by Nate Jones, Vertebrate Ecology Lab
The seasonal ice is breaking up, and it’s time once again for oceanographers to motor out into the Bering Sea to check the vital signs of the rich sub-arctic. This summer Brian Hoover and I (from Dr. Harvey’s Vertebrate Ecology Lab ) will spend many weeks observing seabirds and marine mammals while on scientific research vessels that ply the waters of the Bering, Chukchi, and Arctic. We are participating in a large, coordinated research effort led by scientists from across the country and funded through the North Pacific Research Board’s BEST-BSIERP science plan.
This plan applies research to every aspect of the marine environment – from the flow of currents and micro-nutrients, through the growth and transport of plankton, and on across an interconnected food web to include fish, seabirds, seals, walrus, whales, and even humans and our species’ relationship to the oceans.
Brian and I focus on marine birds and mammals for our studies. While on these ships we will be counting and describing the animals we encounter, entering information as we observe the activity from the wheelhouse, high above the water. This is a good location from which to appreciate the dynamism of these productive regions. In the following four months we will be posting more pictures and stories about our studies, brining you along with us as we push through ice, buck storm swells, and glide through the glassy bliss of calm seas between. Can’t wait!