FUTURE BIOLOGIST DISCOVERS ALASKA
n a remote location on the Alaskan bush this summer, student intern Julianna Quintanilla spent countless hours conducting fisheries- related research. I
After graduating from Texas A&M International University this Spring with a major in biology,Quintanilla enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to intern for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Kenai, Alaska.
“I wanted to challenge myself by experiencing and learning about an ecosystem that is completely different
from South Texas,” Quintanilla stated.
anadromous fish (fish that migrate from salt water to fresh water for spawning) surveys for identification in Alaska’s Anadromous Fish Catalog.
“Our goal was to survey streams that provide rearing and spawning habitat for anadromous fish in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge by collecting, measuring, and identifying fish species in order to properly nominate the streams supporting those fish,” Quintanilla explained.
Quintanilla also helped generate bathymetric maps (those showing sea-floor depths) for approximately 20 lakes that were never mapped or were poorly mapped in the Swanson River and Swan Lake Canoe Systems.
“The purpose was to obtain depth contours and make those maps available to the public on the Kenai Refuge web site,” Quintanilla stated.
In addition, Quintanilla performed strenuous fieldwork which included activities such as carrying 70 pounds worth of equipment along with having to haul a canoe from portage to portage.
“Those 70 pounds felt more like 700,” Quintanilla claimed, “I did it, though, and learned that I was capable of doing more than my body and mind once thought they could do.”
Interestingly enough, Quintanilla admitted that her initial fear was being away from home.
“I’ve always lived at home with my parents,”Quintanilla said, “However, I maintained a positive outlook and was able to adjust to the change.”
Quintanilla’s real concern was running into a bear. Fortunately, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provided Quintanilla with firearm safety and bear behavior awareness instruction prior to being sent out into the field.
“After that training I felt ready to take a bear on if I had to!” Quintanilla said.
Of her experience, Quintanilla said that comparing Alaska to Laredo is like contrasting night and day. For starters, she said that water from streams and rivers in Alaska is for the most part drinkable.
“This would be highly unlikely in Laredo while taking a stroll along the banks of the Rio Grande,” Quintanilla teased.
Aside from Alaska’s pristine and untapped nature, Quintanilla said that it was Laredo’s Mexican food she missed the most.
“One thing Alaska lacks is good Mexican food,”
Quintanilla confirmed, competition.”
“Laredo definitely wins in that
As far as Quintanilla is concerned, her internship in Alaska is by far the most amazing experience of her life yet. She said she fell in love with Alaska and plans to return sometime in the near future.
“Alaska is just incredible!” Quintanilla indicated, “Through my internship, I managed to grow so much as a person and am grateful for that.”
Overall, Quintanilla’s worthwhile experience in Alaska is indicative of the many opportunities TAMIU students and alumni can come to expect.
Rodolfo Zúñiga, Student Intern