49 Voices: Marin Lee of Homer

Marin Lee in Unalaska (Photo by Beret Wilber)

This week we’re hearing from Marin Lee in Adak. Lee grew up fishing in Homer and is a deckhand on the research vessel Tiglax.

Listen now

LEE: The Tiglax is a Fish and Wildlife Service research vessel, and we service the Alaska National Maritime Refuge, which is essentially the Aleutian Islands. There’s some pieces in Cook Inlet and around Kodiak, but we primarily work in the Aleutians. We are a platform for research for marine mammals, seabirds, contaminants, whales… yeah. The work we do is dictated by the charter.

I’m doing my job from April to October, four out of those six months. So far, we’ve gone about 14,000 miles, nautical miles… so, longer than land miles. 14,000 nautical miles since April. (Note: This interview was done in August of 2017) 

I guess it wasn’t such an obvious thing right when I started working on the water. I didn’t know I wanted to do that, but as I got older and kept looking for work, I was always gravitated towards jobs that put you on the water in adventurous remote places.

My least favorite part of the job is setting the rat traps. Every port we go into, we have to set rat traps. It’s a good thing to do, but I really don’t like doing it. They’re very powerful and bite your fingers pretty good.

I’ve never seen a rat on the ship; only very rarely seen them on the docks. But that’s one of the big issues that the refuge takes on is rat eradication for seabird health, seabird recovery. So we can’t very well be bringing rats from Dutch Harbor to these islands where we’ve worked so hard to get the rats off of them.

So we have to close all the doors right as soon as we get in, put rat traps right at the base, tie up lines, just keep everything safe. This year in Dutch Harbor, we didn’t almost get a rat, but I was working nights and looked up on the dock, and there was a cat that wanted to come on-board. So we’re cat deterrents as well.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

Zoe Sobel is a reporter with Alaska's Energy Desk based in Unalaska. As a high schooler in Portland, Maine, Zoë Sobel got her first taste of public radio at NPR’s easternmost station. From there, she moved to Boston where she studied at Wellesley College and worked at WBUR, covering sports for Only A Game and the trial of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Previous articleAK: Safari Quest returns to Petersburg
Next articleKids and sports