Springtime Wildlife on St. Catherines Island, Georgia

 

 

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I’m late posting photos from this past May’s field season. Oops! 

What look like tire tracks are actually the marks of turtle fins. We were on the lookout for new nests with the St. Catherines Island Sea Turtle Conservation Program.IMG_8174

 We helped shovel scrape the area to look for the turtle’s nest because the eggs will all have to be moved to a safer area for hatching.

 

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Shovel scrapes and probing turned up nothing. The turtle had decided not to lay her eggs here after all.

 

 

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Sand Hill Cranes visited the compound…

 

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 egrets were roosting in the trees…

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wild boars were spotted digging around, looking for roots to eat…

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and our driving was slowed by the ring-tailed lemurs living on the island.

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One of the troops of lemurs visited the compound pretty frequently.  

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We had alligators swim by our archaeological site. 

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 Black Racer snake sighting weren’t uncommon.

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 and I saw my first shark feeding right on the shoreline. Spot the fins?

 

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The American Museum of Natural History

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After finishing up at the American Museum of Natural History, I figured I’d mention some things about the museum, just in case you’re interested in visiting. This photo was taken in the main entrance, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda.

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Theodore Roosevelt is omnipresent, offering wisdom at almost every turn.

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You can take a photo with him on the first floor in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall.

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While I interned at the Museum, I worked in the southwestern turret, on the very top floor.

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The Nels Nelson North American Archaeology Laboratory has excellent views of the Upper West Side.

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One of the coolest things about the Division of Anthropology is that North American Archaeology‘s territory includes Margaret Mead‘s old office.

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Occasionally, things from other departments wind up here, like this dinosaur from an old paleontology diorama. The department was going to throw him out, so we hosted him (until the foam began to crumble in our lab too).

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Sometimes, the puns are too much.

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Anyways, if you’ve ever been to the Museum, you know that there are hundreds of functions that occur here each year. I wasn’t invited to whatever was happening here in the whale room, but I’ve heard that the hall is terribly expensive to rent out.

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I did, however, attend One Step Beyond with Machinedrum, Nguzunguzu, and Jubilee. The Museum’s Rose Center for Earth and Space is transformed into a dance floor, and hundreds of people come out to dance.

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I’ve wanted to see NGUZUNGUZU for a long time. 

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The museum was in full bloom this spring.

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and if you don’t see them outside, The Butterfly Conservatory certainly has enough butterflies (I think it’s over 500).

I should also mention that if you’re visiting, don’t miss Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs. Also, The Power of Poison is very interesting. Both are interactive and are great for families. Dark Universe is also really incredible and should not be missed.  It’s narrated by the  Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson (of Cosmos fame) and is a completely unique viewing experience. Trust me.

This museum is an old friend of mine, and I’ll miss it very much, but it’s off to new things!

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The Gorge Project in Archaeology Magazine!

Though I’ve done archaeology in a number of places since leaving New Mexico, it still has a huge place in my heart. This was the first site I ever worked at, so it’s really good to see it getting some attention. Check it out!

 

Teaser:

http://archaeology.org/exclusives/articles/1937-vista-verde-comanche-rock-art

 

Full Article here:

http://www.archaeology.org/issues/131-1405/features/1954-searching-for-the-comanche-empire

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Archaeology on St. Catherines Island, Georgia

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Morning light from our area of archaeological investigation.

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If one of the first things you noticed was the creek, I should tell you that this is how it looks at low tide…

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…and this is how much the water level rises during high tide. The creek has been changing direction over the past few years, and is consequently eroding away the archaeological sites we are currently working to preserve.

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Our field season stretched through late January and early February, and the temperature fluctuated. Some days were warm, in the mid 60’s. Others were very cold. The above photograph shows one of our water screens with an icicle on the hose. It was about 28 degrees when this picture was taken. Water screening isn’t so bad when it is warm out, but it’s painful in the cold.

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On one of the warmer days, we had a visitor to the site. This brown pelican landed by the excavation units and watched us work. It then waddled over to our equipment tent and ate some leftover chili from lunch.

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This is the vehicle the crew takes to site. It’s a modified 15-passenger van with the top sawn off and benches placed along the side. It’s incredibly handy

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and it holds a surprising number of wheelbarrows during site breakdown.

I can’t wait to return to work on St. Catherines Island in May.

More information about the American Museum of Natural History‘s research on St. Catherines Island can be found here and here.

and see:

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Zoology on St. Catherines Island, Georgia

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The zoological conservation initiatives of the St. Catherines Island Foundation are currently focused on the ring-tailed lemur. The current zoo intern brought the archaeology crew to feed the lemurs one morning – certainly a unique experience.

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The St. Catherines Island Wildlife Survival Center looks out for a number of troops that roam the island freely. The adults wear collars that transmit a radio frequency, which allow the scientists to track them. According from a news report from 1984, the lemurs were first turned loose on St. Catherines to see how they would breed outside of cages. Their habitat in Madagascar was being taken over by farmers, and they were bred on St. Catherines “until conditions are suitable to return them to the wild.” They still live on the island.

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Lemurs are funny creatures. They move like cats, and are skittish like squirrels.

The St. Catherines Island Foundation also hosts the St. Catherines Island Sea Turtle Conservation Program.

For more information on the island’s scientific programs:

 

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St. Catherines Island, Georgia

It was onto a new project. I find that I’m pretty restless. I hate sitting still, and I feel unfulfilled being in the same place for long periods of time. For right now, my career as an archaeologist seems to be the right fit for me.

From Colorado, I stopped home, and then it was off to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. They have taken me on as a North American Archaeology Laboratory Research Intern, and fieldwork began immediately off the coast of Georgia, USA.

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St. Catherines Island is a barrier island about the size of Manhattan. The island, however, is privately owned by the St. Catherines Island Foundation. While Manhattan has a population of 1,619,000 (according to Wikipedia) today, there are only two permanent resident of St. Catherines Island. The island hosts a number of scientific research programs, and any number of scholars can also be found studying on SCI. It is about a half hour from the mainland by boat.

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There were three plantations on the island in historical times. Pictured above is one of the old barns that we use for equipment storage.

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The remains of the old cotton gin, however, lies in ruins.

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While we study on the island, we live in restored slave quarters.

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The insides are obviously much different today than how they looked in the antebellum period.

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It’s actually a rather cozy space. I am particularly fond of the ceilings and the fireplaces.

more about the island’s history:

and

 

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The island is also the location of the Button Gwinnett house. Button Gwinnett was the representative from Georgia to the Continental Congress and is the first signature on the left side of the Declaration of Independence. He leased the island in 1766.

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St. Catherines Island was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1969.

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When the gnats weren’t too bad, I spent sunsets on the Gwinnett house dock.

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Often, I would see dolphins swimming from this adirondack chair.

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On our days off, we explored the island’s beaches.

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North Beach has a particularly interesting metal feature – apparently it’s an oyster boiler.

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Anyone happen to know what this is?

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The driftwood we found was quite spectacular

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and in great abundance. St. Catherines is one of the more interesting places I’ve been.

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and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

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Dolores, Colorado

The final thing I’ll reminisce about is living in Dolores, Colorado. Dolores was the smallest town of all of the ones I stayed in with a population of 936. Only Dixon, New Mexico where I was based in the summers of 2011 and 2012 was smaller at 926 residents.

I actually lived right along the Dolores River and watched the land transition from autumn:

 

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to winter:

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The coming of winter meant collecting wood and kindling for my wood burning stove, which I grew quite fond of. The views of the snowy La Plata Mountains, as always, were excellent.

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Living in Dolores, I was surprised to see…

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…drive-through liquor windows? I have heard that they’re common in parts of the south, but I’ve never even heard of them anywhere else.

 

 

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As the snow storms became more and more common and the ground froze over, there were fewer opportunities to get yard work done. In my last weekend in Colorado, I helped the landlord set posts to build a fence around the property.

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It came out pretty decent.

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My windowsill – full of the books, bones, and everything else I collected while out west. It was nice to have but warranted at least three trips to the post office to ship everything home.

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The final snow fell that ended out field season for the year. The temperature wouldn’t break 20 degrees afterwards and the project was to be snowed out until February or March. Archaeologists can’t look for things on the ground if they can’t see the ground.

 

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Christmas lights went up, and I booked my airfare home. I’ll miss Dolores a lot. It has an excellent BrewPub, The Dolores River Brewery, with great pizza and live music. Though I don’t have any photos of it, I should also mention that if you find yourself traveling through Dolores, be sure to stop by the Anasazi Heritage Center. The collections are really great and the center has a wealth of information about Canyons of the Ancients National Monument if you’re up for some hiking.

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