Category Archives: News

March 17, 2018

Gulf Watch Alaska Highlighted at 2018 Kachemak Bay Science Conference

Gulf Watch Alaska’s program lead and collaborating researcher, Mandy Lindeberg, deliver the plenary presentation at the 2108 Kachemak Bay Science Conference

The Gulf Watch Alaska program was prominently featured in the 2018 Kachemak Bay Science Conference from March 7 to 10 in Homer, Alaska. The Kachemak Bay Science Conference is a forum for presenting scientific and traditional ecological knowledge relevant to Kachemak Bay and its surrounding coasts and waters to foster an informed community of environmental researchers, educators, and decision-makers. The theme of this conference was “Science without Borders: Working across disciplines, boundaries, and barriers”, which aimed to provide new information and syntheses to the broad community interested in and working on related issues.

The conference kicked-off with Gulf Watch Alaska’s own program lead and collaborating researcher, Mandy Lindeberg, as the plenary speaker. Mandy linked many aspects of her 25 year career conducting research along the Alaska coast to cross-discipline and boundary science. In particular, she spotlighted the Gulf Watch Alaska program’s unique ecosystem-level approach to undertaking large scale, multidisciplinary, integrated and long-term monitoring in Alaska. In her talk, she explained the benefits of long-term ecosystem monitoring to improving our understanding of how climate variations can drive bottom-up changes in marine food webs, affecting fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and intertidal organisms.

Gulf Watch researcher Katrin Iken talk about long-term changes in Kachemak Bay intertidal communities.

Principal investigators from the Gulf Watch Alaska program authored five oral presentations and two posters at the conference. Presentations covered topics focused on climate and oceanography, ecosystem perspectives, and lower trophic levels in the Kachemak Bay environment. Further, Gulf Watch Alaska program partners, Axiom Data Science and the Alaska Ocean Observing System, hosted a half-day workshop focused on data access through web-based portals. Collaborating scientists, Kris Holderied and Mandy Lindeberg, hosted a separate NOAA portal work session focused on Gulf of Alaska data, and Gulf Watch Alaska principal investigators provided an underwater tour of Kachemak Bay. To hear an audio recording of the plenary talk, listen here.

The following presentations and posters were presented by Gulf Watch Alaska researchers.

Oral presentations-

o Science Without Borders – is it possible?. (Plenary talk) Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA/NMFS Auke Bay Laboratories

o Heating up and cooling off in Kachemak Bay Alaska –what does it mean for the marine ecosystem? Kris Holderied, NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory

o Ecosystem variability in lower Cook Inlet across trophic levels, space, seasons, and climate regimes, Martin Renner, Tern Again Consulting

o    A summary of some results from Gulf Watch Alaska monitoring in Kachemak Bay, Katrin Iken, University of Alaska Fairbanks

o    Trends in intertidal sea star abundance and diversity across the Gulf of Alaska: effects of sea star wasting, Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks

o    Environmental factors affecting toxic phytoplankton in Kachemak Bay, Dominic Hondolero, NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory

o    Can you dig it? Patterns of variability in clam assemblages within mixed-sediment habitats across the Gulf of Alaska, Benjamin Weitzman, USGS Alaska Science Center

Poster presentations-

o Gulf Watch Alaska: Taking the Pulse of the Northern Gulf of Alaska, Robert Suryan, NOAA/NMFS Auke Bay Laboratories

o    Nearshore food web structure in two contrasting regions of Cook Inlet, Danielle Siegert, University of Alaska Fairbanks

The science conference appealed to a diversity of researchers, educators, decision-makers, and interested members of the Homer community.

March 2, 2018

Quarterly Currents vol 1.4

The latest version of the Quarterly Current vol 1.4 (November 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018) is now available. Read this latest version for a brief fourth quarter summary of Gulf Watch Alaska program activities and accomplishments. This issue marks the end of monitoring year 6 for the anticipated 20-year program – also known as the first year of the second five-year increment successfully implemented by the EVOSTC. We have made a great deal of progress since the program’s inception in 2012 and we look forward to future achievements!

February 28, 2018

What Have We Learned Since the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill? Special Issue Journal and NOAA Fisheries Highlights

What does the Prince William Sound ecosystem look like more than two decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill? According to NOAA Fisheries scientists and partners who have been monitoring the ecosystem since the spill occurred in 1989, the answer is complicated. It’s a picture that includes loss, recovery, change and persisting conditions.

A newly published Special Issue of Deep Sea Research II, includes 19 research papers on the Sound ecosystem. The work of this collaborative group of NOAA Fisheries scientists and other agencies and organizations is being conducted under the Gulf Watch Alaska and Herring Research and Monitoring programs funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Findings from these programs are providing resource managers with important insights for recovery and protection of ecosystems after major oil spills. You can read more about the Gulf Watch Alaska research papers and other studies in the Special Issue of Deep Sea Research II links below.

The NOAA Fisheries Highlights has featured a series of articles about a few of the papers authored by NOAA Fisheries scientists. Read the articles to learn more.

 

Gulf Watch Alaska publications
Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Aderhold, D.G.R, Lindeberg, M.R., Holderied, K., Pegau, S.W., 2017. Introduction: Spatial and temporal ecological variability in the northern Gulf of Alaska: What have we learned since the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.11.015

 

Batten, S.D., Raitsos, D.E., Danielson, S., Hopcroft, R., Coyle, K., McQuatters-Gollop, A., 2017. Interannual variability in lower trophic levels on the Alaskan Shelf. Deep-Sea Research Part II.DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.04.023.

 

Bishop, M.A., Eiler, J.H., 2017. Migration patterns of post-spawning Pacific herring in a subarctic sound. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.04.016.

 

Bodkin, J.L., Coletti, H.A., Ballachey, B.E., Monson, D.H., Esler, D.E., Dean, T.A., 2017. Variation in abundance of Pacific Blue Mussel (Mytilus trossulus) in the Northern Gulf of Alaska, 2006-2015. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.04.008.

 

Bowen, L., Miles, A.K., Ballachey, B., Waters, S., Bodkin, J., Lindeberg, M., Esler, D., 2017. Gene transcription patterns in response to low level petroleum contaminants in Mytilus trossulus from field sites and harbors in southcentral Alaska. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.08.007.

 

Campbell, R.W., 2017. Hydrographic trends in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1960-2016. 2017. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.08.014.

 

Cushing, D.A., Roby, D.D., Irons, D.B., 2017. Patterns of distribution, abundance, and change over time in a subarctic marine bird community. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.07.012.

 

Esler, D., Ballachey, B.E., Matkin, C., Cushing, D., Kaler, R., Bodkin, J., Monson, D., Esslinger, G., Kloecker, K., 2017. Timelines and mechanisms of wildlife population recovery following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.04.007.

 

Konar, B., Iken, K., 2017. The use of unmanned aerial vehicle imagery in intertidal monitoring. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.04.010.

 

Lindeberg, M.R., Maselko, J., Heintz, R.A., Fugate, C.J., Holland, L., 2017. Conditions of persistent oil on beaches in Prince William Sound 26 years after the Exxon Valdez spill. Deep-Sea Research Part II.DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.07.011.

 

McKinstry, C.A.E., Campbell, R.W., 2017. Seasonal variation of zooplankton abundance and community structure in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 2009-2016. Deep-Sea Research Part II.DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.08.016.

 

Moran, J.R., Heintz, R.A., Straley, J.M., Vollenweider, J.J., 2017. Regional variation in the intensity of humpback whale predation on Pacific herring in the Gulf of Alaska. Deep-Sea Research Part II.DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.07.010.

 

Moran, J.R., O’Dell, M.B., Arimitsu, M.L., Straley, J.M., Dickson, D.M.S., 2017. Seasonal distribution of Dall’s porpoise in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.11.002″,

 

Olsen, D.W., Matkin, C.O., Andrews, R.D., Atkinson, S., 2017. Seasonal and pod-specific differences in core use areas by resident killer whales in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Deep-Sea Research Part II.DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.10.009.

 

Stocking, J., Bishop, M.A., Arab, A., 2017. Spatio-temporal distributions of piscivorous birds in a subarctic sound during the nonbreeding season. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.07.017.

 

Straley, J.M., Moran, J.R., Boswell, K.M., Vollenweider, J.J., Heintz, R.A., Quinn II, T.J., Witteveen, B.H., Rice, S.D., 2017. Seasonal presence and potential influence of humpback whales on wintering Pacific herring populations in the Gulf of Alaska. Deep-Sea Research Part II. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.08.008.

 

A Wealth of Scientific Information, Decades in the Making

The work of this collaborative group of NOAA Fisheries scientists and other agencies and organizations is being conducted under the Gulf Watch Alaska and Herring Research and Monitoring programs funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Findings from these programs are providing resource managers with important insights for recovery and protection of ecosystems after major oil spills.

What does the Prince William Sound ecosystem look like more than two decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill? According to NOAA Fisheries scientists and partners who have been monitoring the ecosystem since the spill occurred in 1989, the answer is complicated. It’s a picture that includes loss, recovery, change and persisting conditions.

A newly published Special Issue of Deep Sea Research II, includes 19 research papers on the Sound ecosystem.  Here, we highlight a few of the papers authored by NOAA Fisheries scientists.

To read the full NOAA Fisheries Highlight article visit: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/wealth-scientific-information-decades-making

Dall’s Porpoise Expands Territory in a Changing Prince William Sound

A Dall's Porpoise swims in Prince William Sound.

Dall’s porpoise are not hard to find in Alaska waters. If you are in a boat, chances are they will find you. Possibly the fastest of all dolphins and porpoises, Dall’s are notorious bow riders, darting back and forth in front of a moving ship, carving a rooster-tail spray as they surf the bow wave.

This affinity for ships and speed makes the compact black-and-white porpoise one of Alaska’s more visible marine mammals, but also one of the most difficult to study. Their behavior confounds traditional survey methods that depend on research subjects not racing eagerly toward the survey vessel. Although Dall’s porpoise are an abundant fish predator, they have been little studied in Prince William Sound since the 1980s – before the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

NOAA Fisheries scientists, under the Gulf Watch Alaska monitoring program, have now analyzed Dall’s porpoise distribution in Prince William Sound for the first time in nearly three decades. They found some behaviors contrary to what scientists knew about Dall’s, signaling major changes in the Prince William Sound ecosystem.

Read the full NOAA Fisheries Highlights article to learn more: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/dalls-porpoise-expands-territory-changing-prince-william-sound

Lingering Oil from Exxon Valdez Spill

A scientist collects a sample of lingering oil on an armored beach for chemical analysis during the 2015 NMFS survey. Smith Island, Prince William Sound, Alaska. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries.

A small portion of the oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill still lingers in patches beneath Prince William Sound, Alaska, beaches. However, this and other studies suggests the remaining oil is sequestered, or buried, and currently is not posing a risk to the coastal and marine ecosystem.

“In the early years after the spill, experts anticipated that the oil would naturally degrade and not persist in the environment. After repeated visits to specific sites over the last 15 years, I haven’t found this to be the case. For these sites, the oil may be in the environment for a long time,” says study leader Mandy Lindeberg, a NOAA Fisheries scientist.

Few spills in the marine environment have presented the opportunity to measure persistence and loss rates over such a duration. Findings from this study provide resource managers with important insights for recovery and protection efforts after major oil spills.

To learn more read the full NOAA Fisheries Highlights article: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/lingering-oil-exxon-valdez-spill

February 14, 2018

Now that the Blob is Over, Scientists are Eager to Assess its Impact

Kasitsna Bay Laboratory sits on the east side of Kachemak Bay. CREDIT COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS.

Over the last year, warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska, infamously known as the blob, have dissipated. Warmer water temps are thought to have a hand in massive bird die-offs and a decline in Pacific cod stocks. Now that the three-year period of summer-like marine conditions is over, scientists and fishery managers are eager to assess the full impact of the blob.

To read the full KBBI article featuring GulfWatch Alaska scientist, Kris Holderied: http://kbbi.org/post/now-blob-over-scientists-are-eager-assess-its-impact

 

January 31, 2018

Gulf Watch Alaska Featured in Alaska’s Premier Marine Research Conference

Gulf Watch Alaska researcher, James Bodkin, presents about the changes in the Gulf of Alaska nearshore environment at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 2018. (photo credit: Rob Suryan)

 

The Gulf Watch Alaska program participated from January 22-26 in the 2018 Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska. The symposium is Alaska’s premier marine research conference, bringing together over 700 scientists, educators, resource managers, students, and interested public to discuss the latest marine research being conducted in Alaskan waters. Each day of the conference highlights important Alaskan marine ecosystems, including the Gulf of Alaska session on January 23 that featured many Gulf Watch Alaska talks. The Alaska Marine Science Symposium uniquely convenes all presentations during one combined plenary session (as opposed to split sessions) to maximize the sharing of information with the entire audience.

Researchers from the Gulf Watch Alaska program were authors of five oral presentations and 17 posters featured in two different sessions. Presentations covered climate and oceanography, ecosystem perspectives, lower trophic levels, and new discoveries about the biology of plankton, infauna, fish, birds, and mammals. Highlighted were reviews by Gulf Watch Alaska researchers about the impacts of the recent 3-year North Pacific ocean “heat wave,” 25 years of Exxon Valdez oil spill experience, newly discovered ecosystem connections, human/resource connections, and many other subjects of direct relevance to response and restoration in Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska.

Gulf Watch Alaska was featured in 17 posters at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium poster sessions on January 22 and 23 (photo credit: NOAA).

The following talks were presented by Gulf Watch Alaska researchers. A list of  all the Gulf Watch Alaska presentations and posters can be found here.

    • A profiling observatory for high resolution oceanographic, biogeochemical, and plankton observations in Prince William Sound. Robert Campbell, Prince William Sound Science Center.
    • Ecosystem variability in lower Cook Inlet across trophic levels, space, seasons, and climate regimes, Martin Renner, Tern Again Consulting.
    • Detecting and inferring cause of change in Alaska nearshore marine ecosystem: An approach using sea otters as a component of the nearshore benthic food web. James Bodkin, U.S. Geological Survey.
    • Changes in forage fish during the winter 2015-16 seabird die-off and the North Pacific marine heat wave. Mayumi Arimitsu, U.S. Geological Survey.
    • Unprecedented scale of seabird mortality in the NE Pacific during the 2015-2016 marine heatwave. William Sydeman (on behalf of John Piatt), U.S. Geological Survey.

 

 

 

Throughout the symposium, the Gulf Watch Alaska program also engaged in separate discussions with Alaskan colleagues on current and planned research and monitoring activities. Additionally, a program-wide meeting was held on January 23 as an opportunity to coordinate on program activities, share research updates, and plan annual activities.  

The Gulf Watch Alaska program convenes in a special one-hour session at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium to coordinate on program activities and share recent research and monitoring updates (Photo credit: Stacey Buckelew).

December 15, 2017

Announcing Quarterly Currents

Beginning this spring, the Program Management team has been publishing quarterly newsletters that are shared with the EVOS Trustee Council.  We are pleased to announce that these newsletters are now also available to the public on our website. Click the Quarterly Currents Newsletter to read more about the latest program activities and findings of the the Gulf Watch Alaska program. We will be creating original content each quarter to give inside access to what we have been doing, researching, and finding. Stay tuned!

November 21, 2017

Gulf Watch and HRM Annual PI Meetings Held in Cordova

This past week researchers, program managers, and Science Review Panel members from the Gulf Watch Alaska and Herring Research and Monitoring Program convened in Cordova, Alaska for the annual program meetings. Key findings from the Year 6 research and monitoring efforts were shared, with a focus towards ecosystem-level synthesis of scientific results. Time was also spent planning and coordinating the upcoming Year 7 activities. An evening presentation to community members was given by Robb Kaler (USFWS) about how The Blob and El Nino may be related to the mass seabird mortalities observed in the Gulf of Alaska during 2016.

Invited presentations were given by Sam McClatchie, NOAA Southwest Fisheries
Science Center, who related the benefits and lessons-learned of the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), which was established in 1949, to Gulf Watch Alaska long-term monitoring. Stephani Zador of the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center also discussed the application of data, ecosystem, assessments, and report cards to decision-making in the Gulf of Alaska Marine Ecosystem region. Finally, researchers had a viewing of David Rosenthal’s Katmai exhibit of paintings based on his Artist-in-Residence at Katmai National Park working with the Gulf Watch Alaska nearshore team. The exhibit also featured information about the scientific work being done by the researchers. A debt of gratitude is owed to the Prince William Sound Science Center and the Cordova Community Center for extending such a fine welcome!