Oks Springs in the Spring

In the Arctic, where tundra streams often freeze solid in winter, spring locations might provide an overwintering refuge for fish and other aquatic animals.  Today’s journey took us to the lower Oksrukuyik Creek, where we visited two sites with potential to overwinter fish:  Oks 2.5 and OLAS.  With the sun glitteringly reflected off the pristine white snow, we launched our snow machines from the Dalton Highway in search of fish under ice.  Fish antennas help track individually tagged fish as they move through the aquatic landscape.  Although currently encased in ice, we furnished the Oks 2.5 antenna with fresh batteries, tuned the antenna and left it poised to capture fish movement once the river flow freely again.  Although we found no open water to support fish overwintering at Oks 2.5, we found not only open water, but fish at the OLAS site!  We found the OLAS site in 2013, but today we discovered fish at this site, as well as open water.  Very cool.

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Ready to tackle the lower Oks.

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Fresh snow machine tracks grace the pristine snow of the lower Oksrukyik.

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Oks 2.5 antenna’s solar panels made it through the winter, no problem.

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Electronics and gear poised to furnish Oks 2.5 antenna.

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Hoping for fish-supporting water under the ice, we found nothing but more ice and rocks at Oks 2.5.

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Oks 2.5 ready for the spring flood.  Can it handle the torrents of the flood?   Only time will tell.

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We found the OLAS (Oks Lower Alfeis Spring) site in 2013, but today confirmed it as an overwintering location for fish. : )   Chemistry of water samples taken here matched with fish ear bone chemistry will help identify which fish populations use this site for overwinter.

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Ready to head back after an awesome day on the lower Oks.

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First water samples of the season!  These samples will help infer fish movement patterns, including which populations use the Oks Lower Alfeis Spring as an overwintering site.

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