A rough legged hawk got a second lease on life when a Gambell woman and her mother happened upon the injured bird while riding their ATV, coming to its aid and then sending it to a bird sanctuary in Anchorage, where the animal will be nursed to health to be released back into the wild.
Starting last week, regional residents reported numerous dead seabirds washing up on regional beaches. Alaska Sea Grant Agent Gay Sheffield said there were carcasses of murres, puffins, shearwaters and a kittiwake starting on July 28; in Golovin, Solomon, Nome and a dead Little Diomede.
Back-to-back winter storms hit Nome and the region with very strong, screaming winds and accompanying blowing snow. While the first storm on Friday seemed just like a warm up, the second storm hit the region with very strong winds that knocked out power in Wales, ripped buildings apart in Golovin and brought water levels up 6.73 feet over normal. The high winds also pushed away ice cover.
Puddles on ice, slippery sidewalks and heavy wet snow berms are remnants of a three-day weather event that pummeled Nome and the region. According to UAF Climate Specialist Rick Thoman, “that’s the highest three day total on record for Nome in March in the past 116 years.
Back-to-back blizzards with tons of snow and high winds have hammered Nome since late January and the accumulation of a total of 76 inches of snow is now beginning to take a toll on residents.
The community of Gambell fought a distemper outbreak among its dog population this spring and managed to squash the epidemic in its early onset. Distemper is a deadly disease that can afflict dogs and wildlife alike and also has been documented in the North Atlantic to jump from dogs to marine mammals like seals.
Researchers stepping off the research vessel Norseman II in Nome last weekend, brought significant news of having found very high concentrations of a phytoplankton called Alexandrium catenella in regional waters. Alexandrium is an algae that can produce saxitoxins, which can cause dangerous paralytic shellfish poisoning in people. The scientists issued an advisory, notifying Norton Sound Health Corporation, UAF Sea Grant and the Alaska Division of Public Health.
Last Tuesday, February 20, residents of Little Diomede have seen the impossible. Instead of looking out at a frozen seascape of ice, they witnessed open water and high surf crashing onto the shores and coming up beyond the high water line.