Friday, September 11, 2009

Muskox and Caribou, oh my!

Sorry for the delay, I have been busy making my move from Alaska to Woods Hole, MA (With a brief stop in Oklahoma to visit my family!). Although late, these are the last of my Alaskan pictures...a little sad, yes. However, I suppose I am on to my next adventure! The drive down from Toolik was beautiful. We actually got to watch fall in reverse as we went from Toolik... where there was a litte snow on the ground, to the mountains, where the ground was fire red, to the lower elevations where the ground was still green!

As we were driving through the mountains, we actually passed by a whole group of mountain sheep!

Once in Fairbanks, Dan and I had one day before leaving for home, so we headed to the Large Animal Research Station (affectionately referred to as LARS). We learned all about the muskox, Caribou, and Reindeer!

This is a female muskox who is actually nearly full grown. Her short legs and broad body is designed for optimal heat containment so that she may weather the rough Alaskan winters. The muskox was believed to be hunted to near extinction in the late 1800's. However, during the 1930's, it was decided that the muskox should be re-introduced to this area. Animals were shipped by boat and train all the way from Greenland to Alaska. So, the Alaskan muskox actually all descended from this small group of animals!

This is a picture of our awesome tour guide with two muskox skulls. She was explaining how the thickness of the horns and the top of the muskox skull prevents brain damage from the muskox ramming one another during rut.

We also ooh-ed and awe-ed a bit over the adults and baby caribou and reindeer. The pic below is of a male (right) and a female (left) caribou.

Below is a baby and a mama reindeer ...

So, after looking at cute animals, Dan and I both flew out that night (or rather morning) at 2 am. I am currently settling into my next temporary home in Woods Hole, MA. I am working as a TA for the Semester in Environmental Science course, run by the Marine Biological Laboratory. This course is an intensive overview of many topics in environmental science for college students. Although extremely different from Alaska, it promises to be an interesting semester.

Although I am crazy busy these days, I hope to give you a few updates about this area. The Cape is definitely beautiful and picture-worthy. So, stay tuned for more!