Category Archives: News

September 21, 2018

In Alaska, Starving Seabirds and Empty Colonies Signal a Broken Ecosystem

In 2016, tens of thousands of Common Murres washed up dead on beaches lining the Gulf of Alaska. Several more mass seabird die-offs have occurred in the region since then. Photo: Mark Thiessen/AP

Mass die-offs and breeding failures, now ongoing for years, have marine biologists worried that this is a new normal caused by climate change.

To read the full Audubon article which features  some Gulf Watch Alaska and Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER scientists visit:

August 9, 2018

Quarterly Currents vol 2.2

The latest version of the Quarterly Currents v2.2 (May 1, 2018 to July 31, 2018) newsletter is now available. The Gulf Watch Alaska program has sailed through the second quarter of year 7. Field work was the dominant theme this quarter, which started out blustery and cool in May and early June but warmed up in July. Read this latest edition for a summary of the program’s summer activities and accomplishments.

July 30, 2018

Feature Video: Science and Stewardship: Keys to Restoring Kachemak Bay

Gulf Watch Alaska researcher, Kris Holderied with the NOAA National Centers of Coastal Ocean Science and Kasitsna Bay Lab, is working with many partners to study the bay ecosystem, monitor invasive species, and develop risk assessment tools within Alaska’s Kachemak Bay Habitat Focus Area. Watch THIS VIDEO to learn more.

June 25, 2018

Quarterly Currents vol 2.1

The latest version of the Quarterly Current vol 2.1 (February 1, 2018 to April 31, 2018) is now available. This issue launches year 7 of the Gulf Watch Alaska (GWA) monitoring program funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC). In this first quarter program researchers busily geared up for field work. Spring being a bit nippy this year, field teams wore extra layers. Read this latest edition for a brief first quarter summary of our program activities and accomplishments.

May 10, 2018

Delta Sound Connections

The turquoise waters of Eyak Lake are backed up by the Chugach Mountains and the Copper River Delta. Inset: A variety of ecosystems can all be found within a 100-mile radius of Cordova. Photos by Teal Barmore

The Prince William Sound Science Center is pleased to announce the release of the 2018-2018 edition of the Delta Sound Connections. This annual natural history and science news publication is dedicated to the ecosystems of Prince William Sound, the Copper River watershed, and northern Gulf of Alaska. Delta Sound Connections highlights various research and education programs taking place in our region, right now.

May 3, 2018

Seth Danielson Studies the ‘Motion of the Ocean’ on Gulf of Alaska LTER Cruise

Seth Danielson, a GWA Principal Investigator, embarked as a Principal Investigator on the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long Term Ecological Research (NGA-LTER) research cruise aboard the R/V Sikuliaq, April 18 – May 5, 2018. This cruise continues the sampling begun in fall 1997 under the NSF/NOAA NE Pacific GLOBEC program, and supported subsequently by a consortium of the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council’s (EVOSTC) Gulf Watch.


Seths’s focus is on the ‘motion of the ocean’, or the oceanographic processes that drive the NGA’s productivity and make it resilient. His work involves performing CTD measurements and bottle sampling to determine the thermohaline, velocity, light, and oxygen structure of the NGA shelf, in addition to its nutrient structure.


To learn more about Seth’s work during the LTER cruise, watch this video short developed by the  “Microcosm” series, a documentary project that features the diversity and roles of microscopic life in the ocean.

April 27, 2018

GWA Scientist Embarks for 48th Year of Ocean Sampling in the Gulf of Alaska

Russ Hopcroft, a GWA Principal Investigator, embarked as Chief Scientist on the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long Term Ecological Research (NGA-LTER) research cruise aboard the R/V Sikuliaq, April 18 – May 5, 2018. This cruise continues the sampling begun in fall 1997 under the NSF/NOAA NE Pacific GLOBEC program, and supported subsequently by a consortium of the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council’s (EVOSTC) Gulf Watch. This is the first cruise as part of the NGA-LTER  funded by the National Science Foundation. The core scientific purpose of the Seward Line project is to develop an understanding of the response and resiliency of this marine ecosystem to climate variability. This cruise marks the 21st consecutive spring cruise for the Seward Line in the NGA, including Prince William Sound (PWS), and the 48th year of observations at GAK1.


Check out the Meet the Chief Scientist video or the cruise’s Science Update to learn more. Or, read the research cruise post on the NGA-LTER website or follow the latest Tweets (@sikuliaq) .


Happy sailing, Russ!


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.