August Fishlines Newsletter 2015
First Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows Begin Jobs
Alaska Sea Grant created a new state fellowship program providing a yearlong professional experience in marine policy to two young Alaskans.
Marysia Szymkowiak, of Gustavus, just completed her PhD in marine policy and fisheries management at the University of Delaware. She will begin work at the end of August with the NOAA Sustainable Fisheries Division in Juneau. Szymkowiak’s dissertation was on the halibut individual fishing quota program, which fits well with her new job. “It directly relates to what I did for my doctorate,” said Szymkowiak. She will participate in a review of the halibut and sablefish IFQ programs. “It’s the first comprehensive review they’ve done of these programs,” she said.
Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Matt Robinson, born and raised in Fairbanks, just completed his MA in northern studies focusing on northern history and global environmental policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His host agency is the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage. After just two weeks on the job, he’s thrilled. “The people I work with are great,” said Robinson. “What is most interesting to me is they’re on the cutting edge of fishery management in the world.”
Robinson is on a team writing the Bering Sea fisheries ecosystem plan. “People have been talking about ecosystem based management in theory, but the Council is actually putting it into practice and it’s exciting to be a part of that,” said Robinson.
The Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship idea grew from the popular National Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship that places young professionals in federal agencies or Congress in Washington, DC.
“We wanted to use this model to build a program that would encourage talented young people to stay in Alaska and contribute to marine policy here,” said Paula Cullenberg, Alaska Sea Grant director. “We have such complex and fascinating marine issues in our state that it only makes sense to kick-start someone’s career while they contribute to developing good policy here at home.” Recruitment for next year’s hosts for the Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship will begin in fall 2015, and prospective fellows can apply in February 2016.
New Communications Intern
Lauren Frisch is the new communications intern for Alaska Sea Grant and the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Fairbanks. Frisch’s main task is to write outreach stories on research and other projects to be published on the web and in other venues. Frisch has an MS from the Bard Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College in New York, and she recently worked for the Ocean Acidification Research Center at SFOS.
Children Learn about the Bering Sea at Summer Camp
St. Paul Island, one of five Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, has a population of about 500, most of whom live in St. Paul Village. About 100 students are enrolled in the single school there. What do the island’s children do in the summer when school is out?
Last month 21 of them enjoyed attending the weeklong St. Paul Summer Science Camp. Melissa Good, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Unalaska, co-led the camp with Lauren Divine of the St. Paul Ecosystem Conservation Office in partnership with the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island.
The children, aged 7-13, engaged in hands-on classroom activities and outdoor field trips to learn about marine plankton, food webs, ocean acidification, and water density and currents. One highlight was a plankton race event where students in different age groups designed and put together “plankton” that sank slowly in the water column. A competitive tournament to judge which plankton would sink the slowest was won by a group of seven and eight year olds, who used foam, wood, wire, and colored beads as construction materials.
Special guest instructors at the camp were UAF marine biologist Ellen Chenoweth, Jen Cedarleaf of the Audubon Society, CAD technician and GIS mapper Joshua Houston, and Jasmine Shaw of Sitka Cooperative Extension.
Cause of Blue-Green Bloom near Ketchikan Identified
On July 8 Gary Freitag, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Ketchikan, started getting a lot of phone calls on the blue-green water color in the area. While some guessed the color was caused by glacial water intruding from the mainland, Freitag thought it looked like a coccolithophore algae bloom. To confirm his suspicion he took 20 micron plankton tows on a boat with a local commercial dive company. He identified the dominant plankton from the tows as the nontoxic dinoflagellate Prorocentrum micans, which contributed to the color.
But 20 microns is a large opening for plankton. Freitag knew he missed smaller plankton in the tows and needed to look further. He took advantage of an underwater camera system that he had installed by collecting the fine “slime” on his camera housing to get samples. And there he found the coccolithophores. He concluded that the color was caused by large numbers of the nontoxic dinoflagellates and coccolithophores.
According to some, the Ketchikan bloom is the largest seen in the area in 30 years. Underwater visibility, normally over 20 meters, decreased to less than 2.5 meters during the bloom. The bloom moved around the area and varied in intensity over a period of about 30 days. It is one of many unusual events in Alaska marine environments that are accompanying higher water temperatures. For more information see the story in the Juneau Empire.
Enter the AOOS Ocean Film Contest
Do you spend time in Alaska's coastal or marine environment? You can create a film to enter in the AOOS Short Film Contest. The submission deadline is September 15, 2015, and the grand prize is $1,000. Films must be 10 minutes or less, and can involve any aspect of the coastal/marine environment, for example, people using the coast, marine research, wildlife, or policy-related issues. You don’t need to be a professional videographer to enter! For more information visit the AOOS Short Film Contest website or contact Darcy Dugan.
Fishlines is a monthly newsletter that highlights Alaska Sea Grant activities. Alaska Sea Grant supports wise use and conservation of Alaska's marine resources through research, education, and extension. Photo in banner by K. Byers.