Local News

Audio postcard: Ninja captures mooing rhinos

Alexis Will collecting samples at night. (SCS photo/Matt Dolkas)

Alexis Will collecting samples at night. (SCS photo/Matt Dolkas)

Alexis Will, a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, calls herself a “Ninja of the Night,” but it has nothing to do with martial arts.

Will is a biologist who studies the foraging behavior of the Rhinoceros Auklet, a sea bird which returns to land only once every twenty-four hours, during Alaska’s short summer nights.

Alexis Will holds a Rhinoceros Auklet after attaching a small GPS device to its belly.Despite climate change, receding ice pack, ocean acidification, and other environmental pressures on Arctic species, the Rhinoceros Auklet – or “rhino” for short – is thriving, and Will is determined to discover why. She spent two months last summer on a storm-battered mound of volcanic rock ten miles out in Sitka Sound called St. Lazaria Island. Will captured and tagged rhinos to gather data on their movements at sea, and collected feathers to analyze their physiology.

Although it was not a part of her research, Will also captured sounds as thousands of nesting pairs of rhinos, murres, storm petrels, and other birds descended on St. Lazaria every evening. She sent this audio postcard.

Listen to iFriendly audio.

By day, Will returns to camp to record data. The number crunching happens at UAF in the fall. (SCS photo/Matt Dolkas.)

By day, Will returns to camp to record data. The number crunching happens at UAF in the fall. (SCS photo/Matt Dolkas.)

Alexis Will’s research on St. Lazaria Island near Sitka is funded by the North Pacific Research Board and the Institute of Arctic Biology. Will plans to spend another summer on St. Lazaria this year.

KUAC’s Emily Schwing contributed to this story.

Comments

Please read our comment guidelines.

Recent News

Silver Bay wins board approval for waterfront purchase

In just eight years, Silver Bay has already acquired a substantial portion of the park, including the plant and dock at lower left, and nearby bunkhouses.
A Sitka-based seafood processor has cleared the first hurdle toward a major expansion -- in its hometown. The board of Sitka’s Gary Paxton Industrial Park on Wednesday (12-17-14) approved the sale of a significant portion of park waterfront to Silver Bay Seafoods. Plans for a joint venture in a marine services center remain on hold for the time being. more

Santa gig ‘a calling’ for Sitka’s librarian

Robb Farmer, as Santa, listens to a Christmas wish from his wife, Kathy.
Sitka library director Robb Farmer leads a double-life: By day a librarian, by night a trained Santa Claus. Farmer discusses his decision to attend Santa School, and his life over the last year assisting the real Santa Claus with his public appearances. Farmer is a 2005 graduate of the Charles W. Howard Santa School. Downloadable audio. more