We had instrumentation of every sort. Does Woods Hole [Oceanographic Institution] have two Slocum gliders? They may have one. The Canadian Institute for Ocean Science provided us with two gliders. We talked to [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] as the Haida Salmon Restoration Corp. and said our intention is to go out to the eddies, identify an eddy and there try to understand how it could be restored and replenished. They say they didn't know what we were doing.
We started by using ships of opportunity to collect water samples last December for months. This is not willy-nilly. This is not go out, throw iron in the water and stay there for as little as possible because the costs are so high. We were gathering baseline data months ahead. We sent gliders out long before the ship set sail to survey the whole region. We have baseline data for the whole region, on natural blooms and eddies that were blooming and weren't blooming to get the full picture. That's indicative of good, careful science planning.
This is world-class science done by one of the least likely suspects: a small, native peoples village. That's the charm of the story.
That's kind of a preliminary glimpse. Now there is an incredible amount of data to plow through. The book has to be read and we're trying to get to that job.
How long before you share the data or report some results?
We have 10,000 water samples to be analyzed for 20 different characteristics. The first few hundred samples we sent to a commercial lab to give us a glimpse to make a determination of the ultimate cost. We sent them three weeks ago and no peep out of them yet. It takes a long time and a lot of money.
Why did the Old Massett Village Council invest in this?
This is not a village looking to take over the world in some evil fashion and become wealthy. They have 70 percent unemployed, a high suicide rate. Every household used to have a good income from salmon fishing and now almost none do. This is a tiny village of people trying to take care of their backyard.
The Haida have a tradition called potlatch. Those with something give away what they have to those without. The Haida tradition is to give back. If you go to our Web site, there is a section called parables. There is a story called "Salmon Boy." It's one of the earliest and most pertinent scientific publications in salmon, published via the Haida oral tradition. It says if you don't give back to the salmon, they won't give back to you.
Salmon boy is wasting the fish and later drowns. The salmon people come and take him down to salmon world where he becomes a salmon and they teach him about how the salmon are happy to be in a relationship with their Haida neighbors. He swims back to the river.
His mother catches a fish that has a necklace her drowned son wore. Instead of killing the fish, she sets it aside and out of the salmon skin the boy emerges. He becomes a wise teacher to the Haida village, teaching that you have to take care and give back to the salmons' world or they won't come home and give to you. It's a wisdom about ecology and environment.
If the true story of the Haida came out then this is a story that has a heart and a soul and hope. Not just for the Haida but for the whole world. But people politically opposed to geoengineering and feeding at the research trough rely on doom-and-gloom stories of the environment. The last thing they want to see is that [Hillary] Clinton was right and it takes a village.
What's your background?
I've lived in Canada for many years now. I'm a plant ecologist who has done countless silviculture [forestry] projects. I worked in government and do land reclamation and environmental management, like writing prescriptions for the grass and clover to put on mine waste or how to grass the side of a road. I'm a translator of science into application.