Aboard a boat that ferries scientists to Alaskan wildlife

Every summer, the federal research vessel Tiglax travels along the chain of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, ferrying scientists to remote locations to study wildlife. The Aleutian archipelago is 1600 miles in length and constitutes an ecosystem of stunning diversity. Tiglax’s captain talks about life aboard the boat, the animals he’s seen, the passion of his passengers and why he’s ‘hopeful.’

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    Next: a "NewsHour" shares.

    Each summer, the federal research vessel Tiglax travels the length of the Aleutian chain in Alaska, ferrying scientists to remote islands to study wildlife.

    Producer Eric Keto with Public Media's Alaska's Energy Desk recently took a tour of the boat when it docked in Dutch Harbor, and sent us this story.

  • BILLY PEPPER,  Captain:

    Welcome aboard.

    It's call the research vessel Tiglax. It was commissioned in '86. And she's been mostly in the Aleutians her whole life.

    The people that want to understand this chain and understand the ecosystem really come through this boat. And so I have had the opportunity to meet them all.

    Hi. Let's take a walk.

    We have our staterooms that handle 14 passengers. Of course, you have got your center room here. Here's the galley, very comfortable. That's a half-eaten dessert you're taking a look at. We got three freezers on board, probably about $21,000 worth of groceries in April. And we will grab gear and get under way from Homer, with our destination and being — the furthest destination is Attu.

    So, the coolest thing about this is just the diversity of it. Two weeks, you will be going to sea lions. Next you know, it's sea otters. You will be doing a bird survey. You have been working Department of Energy.

    Everybody that comes out here, they are very passionate about what they want to do. And they only have two weeks to do it. And it's our job to make sure we show them what they need to see and try to get it done.

    Welcome to the bridge. We have what they call the latest electronics.



    They're real late. She's almost 30 years old now and still going strong.

    I have seen change. I have seen things go on the endangered species list. I have seen things come off the endangered species list. It's a magnificent place. And I'm hopeful.

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