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AK Beat: Wasilla woman dies in holiday ATV crash

Alaska Dispatch

Fourth of July ATV crash claims life of Wasilla woman: A 23-year-old Wasilla woman is dead after an ATV crash on the July Fourth holiday at Whiskey Gulch beach near Anchor Point, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers said Shelby R. Caven was attempted to cross Stariski Creek on an all-terrain vehicle shortly after 6 p.m. Friday when the vehicle she was driving flipped after striking the creek bed, according to witnesses. She was initially able to stand up, but collapsed into the water a short time later, the witnesses said. Other riders helped Caven to the road where troopers and emergency medical personnel met and transported her to South Peninsula Hospital, where she was treated before being flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, where she succumbed to her injuries at 3:26 a.m. Saturday, trooper said. A passenger on the ATV, 22-year-old Jaclyne W. Schachle, of Wasilla, sustained minor injuries in the crash, troopers said. Troopers said alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Motorcyclist found dead off Richardson Highway: A 56-year-old motorcyclist was found dead Friday afternoon off the Richardson Highway, said Alaska State Troopers. A motorist pulled over near Mile 287 to check the scene of a crashed motorcycle and located the body of Rex Chapman of Delta Junction. Troopers said it was a single-vehicle crash. Chapman was not wearing a helmet, said Megan Peters, troopers spokeswoman. 

A dispatch from halibut's halcyon days: Atlantic halibut “grows bigger, has a superior fat content -- and generally costs more in the stores.” So said a New York Times food article from the summer of 1964, dredged up again by the Times’ blog The Upshot, which notes that the fattier Atlantic fish were “more expensive and presumably tastier,” adding that “Most of us will never know if that’s true: So little halibut is left in the Atlantic that it is generally off limits to commercial fishing, and environmental organizations like Greenpeace and the International Union for Conservation of Nature list it as endangered or threatened and warn against eating it.” (The 1964 piece contains an ominous foreshadowing of this noting even then that overfishing was threatening Atlantic stocks.) The Upshot has a chart of the ups and downs of Pacific halibut, noting recent precipitous declines (which have made themselves felt in Alaska). The Upshot also notes that the 1964 piece includes the uncritical repetition by its writer of an account, from one Mal Kenney of the New England Fish Company, of an Atlantic halibut that weighed 825 pounds -- gutted. The Upshot cites International Game Fish Association records of 418 pounds (Atlantic) and 459 pounds (Pacific) as evidence the earlier Times writer was “taken in by a fish story.” What may be even more remarkable though is the price this supposed 800-plus pounder commanded: $50.

Complex offshore operations will require collaboration to be safe, says regulator: A federal regulator says collaboration is the key to safe offshore oil and gas drilling, according to a report from industry news site Fuel Fix. Brian Salerno, formerly a U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral and currently enforcement director for the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement told Platts Energy Week that the complexity of networks of companies and contractors all operating offshore is one of the significant obstacles to safety and that finding ways to for all players to work together will be critical to overcoming that obstacle: “Salerno, a former vice admiral in the Coast Guard, noted the distinction between that complex offshore oil and gas hierarchy and a streamlined military operation, with more clearly defined roles and fewer side players,” Fuel Fix wrote.

Stabilizing the climate with whale poop: After decades of decline, some whale populations are rebounding -- so much so in the case of cetaceans such as Alaska’s humpbacks, that the state of Alaska has petitioned the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to remove the whales from the list of marine mammals protected by the Endangered Species Act, something the agency is considering. And that may be good news for the climate according to some whale researchers, and for an unusual reason, reports The Atlantic’s Citylab: whale poop. The study found that whale poop nutrients help plankton, which absorb atmospheric carbon during photosynthesis, then sequester it when they die. The large animals also help sequester carbon when they die and their massive bodies sink to ocean depths, as one of the study’s lead researchers explained to Sitka’s KCAW last summer when he did a stint as a fellow at the Sitka Sound Science Center.