Waiting for Moose

There are so many wonderful things about Alaska– the hundreds of majestic lakes, the breathtaking mountains, the thousands of brilliantly colored stickleback, but most important is the awe-inspiring moose.

IMG_2889I have lived in Maine all my life and even so I have never seen a moose in the wild. Working in Alaska is an amazing chance for an undergraduate student to experience both field and lab work, but for me it is also an opportunity to see a real, live moose in all its glory!

Summertime is the moose calving season here in Alaska. Moose mothers and their offspring are roaming around and foraging during the long, sunlit days. I have been told that moose are everywhere; they are on the side of the road, on the highway, on the campus, and around the lakes. This news confirmed that, in Alaska, it must be easy to see a moose and for many people it is a frequent occurrence in the summertime; however this moose spotting luck, for some reason, seems to have bypassed me.

DSC02085Whenever we are in the car driving to the grocery store, walking to the lab, or working out in the field I am constantly looking for them. I even took a walk with Shannon in the woods specifically to the search for a moose. Even with hard work and dedication to the moose search, the past six days in Alaska have yielded no moose. There have been several false alarms involving rocks, twigs, and trees, but the search still continues for a real, live moose.

IMG_2898Although the moose hunt proves unfruitful, I have still had many fantastic experiences. The most remarkable task to date is making stickleback crosses. To begin, we collect live stickleback from several different lakes in the Mat-Su Valley region. Then, we pick a male and a female from a single lake collection and go through a process that ends in fertilized eggs. These stickleback embryos, which we ship back to Clark, will develop into adults and be used to conduct research experiments in our lab. It is exhilarating to know that those fish that are later used in research experiments were created by the members of the 2011 Alaska Stickleback Crew.

Finally, I have one request to anyone reading this post- please send all of your moose spotting vibes to Shannon and me in Alaska because it seems that we need all of the help that we can get!