Remote Alaskan Island Revives Aleut Language, Culture

Wednesday, October 28 2015

Students and mentors look for sea lions at sunrise on St. Paul Island, Alaska. Justine Kibbe photo.

City and tribal-government employees on Alaska's St. Paul Island get Oct. 28 off each year for a holiday you might not have heard of: St. Paul Aleut Independence Day.

It marks the day in 1983 when Saint Paul islanders gained their freedom from the federal government. Various U.S. agencies had been running the island's fur seal harvest and economy for decades, leaving the locals as little more than wards of the state.

Unalaska Eyes Marijuana Retail Rules

Tuesday, October 27 2015

Unalaska City Hall. KUCB/file photo.

The Unalaska City Council meets tonight at 6 p.m.

City Clerk Cat Hazen said tonight’s agenda includes several routine business matters since the Council has not met for several weeks due a lack of quorum.

At the top of the meeting, the Council is slated to certify the Oct. 6 election and administer oaths of office to incoming council members Frank Kelty and Alejandro “Bong” Tungul.

Former Dutch Harbor Fisheries Observer Keith Davis Missing At Sea Off Peru

Monday, October 26 2015

Fisheries observer Keith Davis on board a transshipment vessel in 2012. Video courtesy Hiep Tran.

With crab season under way in the Bering Sea, some 70 crab boats are bobbing around Alaska's Bristol Bay and the Aleutian Islands. About a dozen of those boats have a fisheries observer on board. The observers keep tabs on what the boats haul up from the deep.

Keith Davis was supposed to be one of those observers, but he went missing in September while working on a boat off the coast of South America. KUCB's John Ryan reports.

Fishing Boat Leaks Ammonia Cloud At Unalaska Dock

Friday, October 23 2015

Emergency crews responding to an ammonia leak on the Clipper Epic. Photo by Zac Schasteen.

Emergency crews were mopping up an ammonia leak from a boat at the OSI dock on Unalaska's Captains Bay Road midday Friday. They blocked off the road at the Crowley dock Friday morning, about a half mile closer to town, as they responded to the leak. At 11 a.m., Unalaska police officers moved the road block closer to OSI, stopping traffic just before the main entrance to the facility. 

Sailor's Desperate Pacific Ocean Leap Onto Shell Icebreaker

Wednesday, October 21 2015

Screenshot of US Coast Guard video of Tor Viking rescuing French sailor.

A Shell Oil icebreaker gained two passengers in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday. French sailor Manu Wattecamps-Etienne dove onto the icebreaker in 20-foot seas Tuesday, about 12 hours after sending out a distress signal. He made the desperate jump--with his cat--about 350 miles southeast of Alaska's Dutch Harbor.

Coast Guard video of the rescue shows the 30-foot sailboat bobbing like a cork next to the 270-foot Tor Viking II. The Frenchman clings like a koala to the rigging at the bow of his boat as it whips him around in nearly 50 mile-per-hour winds.

The Weatherman At The End Of The Western World

Wednesday, October 21 2015

William Wells releases a weather balloon on Alaska's St. Paul Island. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

William Wells lives and works at what may be the nation's most remote weather station. It's 300 miles off the west coast of Alaska (and 500 miles off the east coast of Siberia) in the Bering Sea. Even by St. Paul Island standards, his station is remote: it's off by itself, a few miles away from the village of 400 people who call St. Paul home.

Each afternoon, he walks from his office into a two-story-tall garage to fill up a six-foot-wide balloon with hydrogen gas.

Museum Of The Aleutians Closes After 1801 Bible Found In Director's House

Monday, October 19 2015

Museum of the Aleutians' Oct. 12 board meeting. Board members (at table, L-R) Melissa Good, Sharon Svarney-Livingston, Eilleen Scott and executive director Zoya Johnson. KUCB/Greta Mart photo.

The Museum of the Aleutians in Unalaska remains closed after the discovery of museum materials--including a Russian Orthodox Bible from 1801--at the executive director's house disrupted normal operations last week.

The museum's board of directors voted Oct. 12 to close the museum and place executive director Zoya Johnson on paid administrative leave.

In a statement issued on Friday, the museum’s board said it completed an investigation and found that "no criminal intent was exercised" by Johnson. The Unalaska City Council member has served as the museum's executive director for the past 11 years.  

Dutch Harbor Rats (Unwillingly) Help Save Pribilof Seabirds From Their Kind

Thursday, October 15 2015

A rat trap outside the Trident Seafoods plant on St. Paul Island. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

Biologists and tribal officials in the Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska are working to protect one of the world's greatest gatherings of seabirds. With a little unwilling help from wharf rats in Alaska's Dutch Harbor, the nation's busiest fishing port, they aim to keep rats as far away as Seattle from devouring the birds of the rat-free Pribilof Islands.

The Pribilofs -- a handful of treeless islands in the Bering Sea 300 miles from the Alaskan mainland -- are famous for their millions of seabirds. They turn the islands' sea cliffs into noisy multi-species cities each summer, as heard in this recording from St. Paul in 1968.

Sun Sets on Shell Oil's Arctic Quest

Wednesday, October 14 2015

The sun sets on the Polar Pioneer in Unalaska's Broad Bay on Monday. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

Shell Oil's Polar Pioneer rig left Alaska's Dutch Harbor for Port Angeles, Washington, on Wednesday.

The energy giant's other Arctic rig, the Noble Discoverer, left Dutch Harbor for Everett, Washington, on Monday.

Other ships in Shell's Arctic fleet are expected to leave Alaska over the next couple of weeks, and the company has not disclosed the fate of the 400 employees who have worked on the project in Anchorage.

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