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three photos of: a sea nettle by Stephen Jewett; student Jessica Johnson holding a salmon and urchins, clams, crabs by Bluhm/Gradinger

MESAS IGERT Internships

Threatened and Endangered Species Content for the ADF&G Website
Rachael Blevins

During my internship, I completed species profiles for threatened and endangered species for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) website.  I started by creating a master list by compiling all the species that have information from the ADF&G Wildlife Notebook Series, the ADF&G Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, and the Alaska Natural Heritage Program.  The final list was a spreadsheet that indicated which sources had information on each species and a notes column with additional information such as what subspecies were included and any alternate names for the species.  After completing this list, I began working on the main body of my internship.  I completed species profile pages and special status pages for 22 species: beluga whale, walrus, yellow-billed loon, wood bison, polar bear, Kittlitz's murrelet, sea otter, pinto abalone, black-footed albatross, North Pacific right whale, Pacific marten, short-tailed albatross, Steller sea lion, spectacled eider, Steller's eider, Eskimo curlew, Pacific herring, red knot, Olive Ridley sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, and green sea turtle.  The first section of the species profile was a description with description section that included general appearance and how to distinguish similar species, a life history section that included reproduction, feeding ecology, behavior, and migration, a range and habitat section, a status, trends, and threats section, and a section of fast facts.  The other sections of the species profile were uses, research, management, get involved, which included opportunities for the public to be involved in management decisions or citizen science projects, and more resources that included links to other useful websites.  The special status page had four sections: summary, policy actions, pertinent documents, and critical habitat.  The summary included 1‑2 paragraphs summarizing how and why the species was listed.  The policy actions section included a timeline of policy actions with links to the federal registrar documents, rulings, and petitions.  The pertinent documents section had items that didn't fit in the policy actions section such as recovery plans, conservation plans, and co-management agreements.  The critical habitat section contained a general definition of critical habitat and the specific critical habitat for that species.  The critical habitat section was only included for species that were listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act and not those that were candidates or being considered for listing.  Aside from the 22 species that I completed full write-ups, I completed special status pages for eight additional species: humpback whale, bowhead whale, blue whale, ringed seal, bearded seal, sperm whale, fin whale, and sei whale.  At the end of the internship, I attended the meeting of the Species Team for the website redesign.  At the meeting I presented my work, offered recommendations and input for further work, and helped them prioritize the work for the consultant they would hire to complete the remaining species profiles.

 


Oral Histories of Sea Ice from Blönduós, Iceland
Catherine Chambers

In the summer of 2010, I traveled to Blönduós, Iceland for my MESAS internship at the Sea Ice Exhibition Centre. The Sea Ice Centre opened in 2006 to exhibit the history of sea ice around Iceland, and partnered with Hólar University College in 2009 to enhance new collaborative research in the humanities and the social and physical sciences. First, I updated English texts regarding the latest facts and figures on sea ice and climate science for the exhibition. Second, I gave a non-academic talk about Inupiat culture, dependence on sea ice, and TEK collaboration with Western academics entitled "Alaska Natives and Sea Ice: Pictures and Stories from a Changing World" during a community festival. Third, my major project was to collect oral histories on memories of sea ice and make a short film for the Sea Ice Centre. Sea ice is a visible symbol of hard times in Iceland, because the presence of sea ice means the blockage of shipping routes and important fishing grounds, so there are a variety of opinions and memories about sea ice. This project had the dual purpose of preserving important stories and histories about ice for future generations as well as collecting information for a variety of researchers. The film is on display at the Centre and on YouTube1, and DVD's were given to all participants with a copy of their full interview. Additionally, the full interviews will be included in the ESF's Fishernet Cultural Heritage Network2 for access by researchers. Finally, I presented a talk entitled "Considerations of Knowledge and Time: Exploring Oral History of Sea Ice in Iceland" that analyzed and reflected on the oral history project as a research method at the Alaska Chapter of AFS in November of 2010.
(1)        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA5WWRo3kfs&feature=related
(2)        www.fishernet.is

 


Coral Restoration and Whelk Ecology Research
Maggie Chan

The goal of my internship was to broaden my interdisciplinary training in  marine science research. My internship was spent at the University of Rhode Island (URI), USA and Guana Island, British Virgin Islands. I worked with Dr. Graham Forrester at URI on a website to communicate the results of over 20 years of past research on Guana Island. Our website incorporates summaries of current projects, profiles of researchers and field updates.

In addition to my time at URI, I spent several weeks on Guana Island involved in staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) restoration and whelk (Cittarium pica) ecology research. Both of these projects are featured on our website, along with updates on progress. From this experience, I expanded my knowledge base in ecological field methods and marine ecosystems. I am grateful for first hand exposure to diverse perspectives in international research and global conservation strategies.

 


Headlines and deadlines: A scientist's foray into the world of journalism
Ellen Chenoweth

"Scientists are OCD and journalists are ADD." This is one of Lisa Busch's favorite ways to describe the difference between how scientists and journalists approach their work. Lisa is the executive director of the Sitka Sound Science Center and was my internship mentor as I tried to bridge this gap during my summer as a science journalist. On a practical level, I learned how to research science topics in an ethical way and convey my findings to a broad audience through different  media.

For a town of less than 9,000 cold-water islanders, Sitka, Alaska produces a surprising amount of newsworthy science. I conducted interviews, read papers, and went out into the field with scientists in order to learn about mountain goat genetics, Tlingit weaving, sea otters, intertidal surveys and "D. vex"‑‑an aggressive marine invasive species. I then crafted this research into three stories that ran (or will run) on local public radio and one in Sitka's local newspaper. Click here to listen one of my radio stories!

[http://www.kcaw.org/2012/07/23/goat-dna-inspires-tlingit-weaver/]

Tanam Amix: Interning with the Aleut community of St. Paul Island -- Tribal Government
Lauren Divine

In the summer of 2012, I worked with two departments of the Aleut Community of St. Paul— Tribal Government, the Ecosystem Conservation Office (ECO) and the Office of Cultural Affairs (T~UM). The first portion of the summer I spent in Fairbanks and at the Tribal Government office on St. Paul Island, researching and compiling relevant information for the Tribal Government website (www.tgspi.com) and assisting with website development. Some of the areas I was responsible for include: St. Paul's wildlife and subsistence resources, departmental missions and goals, management goals, employee bios, and documents, and products and services. The second portion of my internship was spent on St. Paul Island working with T~UM to create and coordinate a week long cultural-based science camp (called Camp Amix). We chose the Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) as the focal point for camp and centered activities on teaching scientific skills (such as estimation and counting), traditional arts and crafts, and subsistence harvest and preparation of seal meat. We had over 15 kids from ages 4-11 years old participate in camp activities, including dissections, throat preparations, cooking a seal feast, hikes, seal harvest activities, blubbering, and a campfire finale. This experience was incredibly valuable for me, both personally and professionally. I learned a great deal about how the St. Paul Tribal Government functions day-to-day and the challenges this organization faces in managing the island's marine ecosystems. Perhaps more importantly, I learned about life within a rural Alaskan community and how to foster relationships within a Native community. My participation in the curriculum development and successful completion of Camp Amix was evidenced by the engaged faces and enthusiastic questions of campers. I truly formed a bond with the kids of the island and can only hope I am fortunate enough to return to Tanam Amix and contribute more before long!


Establishing a training course in ecosystem approaches to fisheries for developing countries: Internship at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
Thomas Farrugia

I completed my internship as a consultant at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations during the summer of 2011. I worked primarily on the EAF-Nansen project, which supports the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in developing countries through two main tactics. Firstly, the FAO helps fisheries managers, scientists and policy-makers develop ecosystem-based management plans through training and workshops. To this end, there was a need to develop a comprehensive course that could be adapted to the 32 current partner countries of the project, as well as future potential partners. The second goal of the EAF-Nansen project is to support management decisions by providing data collected by the research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen, which has been collecting survey data since 1975.

To address the training objective of the project, I was charged with gathering and consolidating EAF information into a three-week course that could be taken to any partner country and used to train in-country fisheries practitioners. The presentation that I produced provides background on fisheries management and EAF, a practical guide of how to use the EAF Toolbox produced by the project, as well as in-class exercises and a case study section to provide practice in implementing an EAF management plan. Because the main focus of the project is currently in African countries, I also translated the course into French. In addition, I participated in a stakeholder workshop in Tanzania designed to assist fishers, managers and scientists identify the social, ecological and economic issues they wanted to address in their fisheries management plan and perform a risk assessment on these issues. Finally, to assist the data support objective of the EAF-Nansen project, I helped organize an expert workshop, to be held this September, on how to use survey data to inform EAF management decision. Through these efforts, the EAF-Nansen project is supporting local fisheries managers and scientists in developing countries, which is crucial to successfully promoting sustainable development.

 


International Pacific Halibut Commission Sea Sampler
Elizabeth Figus

Every year since 1963 the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) (www.iphc.int) has conducted a scientific survey of halibut populations in the North Pacific. Today, this summer survey continues as the oldest and largest of its kind. The Commission's survey sampling team is composed of highly qualified and experienced field marine biologists. When I entered MESAS in the Fisheries program, my background was primarily in the social science side of commercial fishing. Thanks to the internship component of this program, I got to learn how to be an IPHC Sea Sampler at their training during the May of 2013 and then go out and work as one during the summer field season.

I spent 6 weeks at sea on the F/V Kema Sue, collecting data from halibut and other components of the marine ecosystem. This means that I measured every halibut that came on board and assessed whether or not they had a scar from getting caught before (a prior hooking injury). For a random sample of the halibut, I also collected an otolith ear bone (sent to the lab for aging) and assessed sex/maturity. Along with the lead Sampler on  my vessel, I set a SeaCat depth profiler at each fishing station to measure oceanographic data in the water column. I gathered data from bycatch, like spiny dogfish sharks and Pacific cod. Part of the job was even a requirement to bird watch at the end of each set.

The IPHC tries to make their survey just a little bit more dynamic and inclusive each year, in order to capture the bigger picture of how halibut fit into their marine ecosystem, how this changes over time, and what that all means for commercial halibut fishers. Since I work with commercial fishers as part of my research, working with the IPHC has given me the tools and experience necessary to discuss how scientific data collection informs management with fishers in meaningful ways.

You can see an informal outreach video that I made about my summer internship below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7HFIQ__MHM&feature=youtu.be

 


From morphology to management: A summer at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
Jessica Glass

I completed two projects at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The first involved a genetic and morphometric analysis of the blue emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus), a fish species with an Indo-Pacific distribution that is both commercially and recreationally targeted. Preliminary data showed physical and genetic differences between South African specimens and those collected from Mozambique northward. To delineate species boundaries, I sequenced two mitochondrial and one nuclear gene and examined 36 physical character traits. The data indicate speciation among specimens from South Africa, the rest of Africa's east coast, and Australia. By understanding this increased genetic diversity and recognizing an endemic South African species, fishery managers can more accurately define stocks and improve management measures.

My second project focused on a fish species called dusky kob (Argyrosomus japonicus). Although populations of this species are currently collapsed, intense recreational fishing still occurs. I developed a questionnaire to ask recreational anglers about their ecological knowledge of dusky kob (e.g. habitat preferences and spawning behavior), as well as their opinions on ways to sustainably manage the species. The questions asked of anglers were designed to complement and enhance existing data from long-term research on the movement patterns and behavior of dusky kob.


Conservation Alternatives for Cusk and River Herring in New England
Alexis Hall

A declining trend has been evident since the 1980s for populations of river herring (Alosa pseudoharengus and Alosa aestivalis) and cusk (Brosme brosme) along the northeastern seaboard. Landings and survey indices have decreased considerably for cusk. An increase in the ratio of landings to survey biomass estimates since 1986 implies an increase in exploitation over this time period. River herring populations have declined throughout much of their range, prompting the establishment of moratoriums on taking and possessing river herring in  Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware and North Carolina. Recorded numbers of river herring entering these rivers suggest population collapses. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has listed both river herring and cusk as "species of concern." NMFS is responsible to promote conservation efforts for species for which NMFS has concerns regarding population status and threats (e.g., river herring) and for those for which information is insufficient to determine whether listing under the Endangered Species Act is warranted (e.g., cusk). The goal of this project was to review available information on these species, including potential risks and environmental threats, to develop a list of proactive conservation activities that NMFS should consider undertaking. The combined effects of overfishing, bycatch and habitat degradation have had drastic long-term impacts on river herring and cusk. These threats make it difficult for these species to reproduce successfully to sustain their populations over time. Identification of proactive efforts that can be taken to conserve such species of concern helps NMFS ameliorate current and future threats to these species.

 


Regional Branding Campaign for the Bristol Bay Region
Brandon Hassett

My internship was conducted at the World Wildlife Fund in Homer, AK. My role at WWF was to serve primarily in a supportive capacity in a regional branding campaign, congealing economic data and detailing the infrastructure of the Bristol Bay region. My efforts were largely aimed at the tourism industry, the commercial fishing sector, sport fishing lodges and the work of local artisans; specifically, detailing supply chains of Bristol Bay products and the market demands of these goods both domestically and internationally. Ultimately, the goal of understanding these markets is to develop a sustainable economy exclusive of destructive industry, such as mining. Because Bristol Bay culture and industry revolve largely around salmon runs, a major focus of this internship was to explore the marketing of all‑natural wild fishery products on the organic market; so as to generate more capital per unit of fishery products – in turn, increasing revenue shares for local stakeholders. Increasing awareness of Bristol Bay fishery products and culture necessitates advertisement and outreach initiatives. To this end, a large portion of my internship was spent assisting in the organization of Salmonstock, a three-day music festival that celebrates Bristol Bay's wild salmon resources. I helped organize the itineraries of major artists, including Trampled by Turtles and Brandi Carlile and facilitated a number of band visits to help make Salmonstock a major success – over 5,000 concert attendees. Ultimately, through successful outreach campaigns, independent research, and meetings with Bristol Bay stakeholders, the track for a Bristol Bay regional brand has been formed.

 


Kaigani Haida Way of Knowing: Knowledge, Culture and Practices of Native Alaskans in Hydaburg, Alaska
Sonia Ibarra

For  my MESAS summer internship I worked with the Hydaburg Cooperative Association (HCA), a federally recognized indigenous tribe on Prince of Whales Island, Alaska. From the onset, I had two overarching goals: 1) to learn and understand the environmental and cultural way of knowing (knowledge-base) of Kaigani Haida community members in Hydaburg, Alaska and 2) to develop meaningful and complementary partnerships with the Hydaburg community. I accomplished these goals through my involvement in HCA's stream mapping project, helping organize and prepare materials for Hydaburg's annual Cultural Camp, and by participating in the gathering of subsistence foods.

My involvement in the stream-mapping project took the majority of my internship commitment. As part of a four-person team, we conducted surveys of threatened or significantly altered streams. HCA's goals were to map five streams and determine the farthest extent of salmon and trout in these streams. Along with GPS mapping streams, we took basic physical and biological measurements including gradient, substrate characterization and documented bank vegetation. All data was collected using standardized protocols developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Consequently, this information will aid in the protection of resources that the Hydaburg community so heavily relies on for food and traditional activities as well as in stewardship and restoration projects. During the week-long culture camp, people from all over Southeast Alaska and British Columbia participated in several activities including: weaving with cedar bark, making drums, Haida language classes, and helping with the totem pole replication program. People of all age groups look forward to this event because it helps form connections between elders, adults, and youth, and helps foster a sense of identity. Through my participation in subsistence gathering and the sharing of foods, I developed meaningful friendships and partnerships with various community members. It was a rewarding experience to learn and practice life through a Haida lens!

Learn more about this project in The Nature Conservatory - People of the Salmon: Haida Tribe Defends Salmon with Science in Alaska.

 


Educating the public on the importance of the National Marine Fisheries Service Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl surveys
Melissa Johnson

The National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) conducts biennial bottom trawl surveys in many areas of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) that are closed to commercial trawlers.  Even though the ships used in the surveys are indentified as research vessels, many people in the coastal towns along the Gulf are unsure why research ships trawl in areas that commercial fisherman cannot and what type of data are collected.  My internship this summer involved working with Rebecca Reuter at the NMFS office in Seattle, WA on ways to educate the public on the types of data that are collected on the bottom trawl surveys, how the data are used in research, and how the research influences fisheries management.  The summer was planned in two parts: six weeks on a Gulf of Alaska bottom trawl survey; and 4‑6 weeks creating a web page on the survey data and research on the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFCS) Education and Outreach website (http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/4‑6 Education/default.htm). On the ship, I was going to see how the data were collected, talk to the scientists on board about what data they are collecting for their research, and become proficient in identifying groundfish living in the Gulf. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to participate on the trawl survey.  Instead, I interviewed researchers at the AFSC about the data collected from previous surveys and how they incorporate the data into their research. Because I missed the GOA bottom trawl survey, I have been invited to participate on the Aleutian Islands bottom trawl survey next year.  Along with the interviews, I conducted an extensive literature search of official NMFS reports and published journal papers to contribute content for the outreach website. The completed and published website will inform the public that the NMFS bottom trawl surveys are important for understanding groundfish abundance and distribution, as well as collecting data to help study other population dynamics such as age, growth, life span, reproduction, and prey items. In addition, many links to external websites will be provided for those that are interested in more detailed information. 



The History of Crab Fishing in Alaska
Courtney Lyons

My internship addressed the historical development of crab fisheries in Alaska. Through archival research of traditional native place names, old research expedition notes and government records, I documented the temporal and spatial spread of crab fisheries throughout the state. I then entered these data into a public Google Earth database: the Historical Atlas of Marine Ecosystems (http://hmap.unh.edu), an easily accessible, user-friendly database allowing the compilation of historical fishing efforts for use in fisheries research and management. Fisheries management rarely addresses data at such large temporal and spatial scales. Doing so, however, allows for the interpretation of social and political influences on management regimes. It also provides a more extensive historical baseline by which to measure modern fishery performance.

 


Citizen science: Community based research in the circumpolar north
Liza Mack

Community-based environmental monitoring is increasingly important in the Arctic as climate change impacts habitat, species distribution, and animal health. These impacts are often first noticed by local people, but decisions about responding to changes may be the purview of many. Information about changes in the marine environment is needed by communities, scientists and policy-makers regulating the areas, especially as plans for development move forward in the context of a changing sea-ice regime. This summer, I completed an internship with BioMap Alaska. BioMap is a citizen-science initiative designed to enable residents of coastal northern communities to report, via a web-based system, on species of concern. These species were identified through a statewide survey process in 2012, and include the walrus, ringed, and bearded seal, among others, for a total of 11. BioMap users have access to field guides describing the species of interest in both English and Inupiat. I developed BioMap informational materials for the communities of Barrow, Kaktovik, Kotzebue and Point Lay, including a project poster, powerpoint presentation, and a brochure. I also reviewed and edited the BioMap field guides to species. I conducted preliminary field work in the community of Barrow, making contacts for later field testing of the BioMap webtool. I also prepared the first draft of a Phase Two proposal for BioMap. The main focus of my internship was development of an inventory of recent and ongoing citizen-science program in Alaska and across the coastal pan-arctic. BioMap  is intended to feed information into larger pan-Arctic observing programs, such as the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, and the first step in developing that collaboration is doing a gap analysis. The inventory is focused on marine observing programs, and is intended to provide information for the gap analysis. As part of my internship I was to assist with the testing of the BioMap tool in three communities, and collect feedback about the platform and the overall appeal and utility of the program to potential participants. However, delays in programming development mean that community testing will occur in October and November 2012. I have the opportunity to participate in these community visits and complete this portion of my internship if scheduling allows.

 


Social Network and Community Vulnerability Analyses
Amanda Meyer

During my internship with the Institute of the North I conducted my first social network analysis (SNA) of key players in Arctic affairs and designed a draft survey to be used by the Institute of the North to conduct a social network analysis in the Bering Strait region. These tasks gave me the opportunity to begin learning UCINET 6, a SNA software program that allows users to visually display complex relationships among people and organizations. This was a valuable learning experience for me both with the software and survey design and I believe the products I produced will be useful to the Institute of the North as they move forward with their SNA in Alaska.

At NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center I learned about the steps necessary to conduct a community vulnerability analysis. After learning the process and doing background research, I conducted a preliminary vulnerability assessment of two Northwest Alaskan communities, Kivalina and Noatak, based on subsistence marine mammal harvest, use and consumption and projected impacts on sea ice from climate change. We refined how vulnerability is calculated by using species exposure based on sea ice changes and species ranges, rather than biophysical exposure factors like sea surface temperature. We also calculated resource dependence using several variables to see how vulnerability scores changed. This was a wonderful learning experience and will prove invaluable as I move forward with a resilience analysis of communities and management regimes for marine resources in the Arctic. Resilience is a reframing of vulnerability and uses similar methodology, though with different variables of interest.


Groundfish Research and Management in Alaska
Megan Peterson

I worked with Senior Plan Coordinator, Jane DiCosimo and Deputy Director, David Witherell at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage, Alaska. The internship was focused on groundfish management issues in Alaska. I synthesized information on historic catch, catch specifications, biomass estimates and retrospective biomass for all species managed under the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) groundfish Fishery Management Plans (FMP). This data was incorporated into 2010 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluations. I also reviewed biology and fishery management information and created updated species profile documents for all target groundfish species managed under the BSAI and GOA FMPs. The final product will be published in glossy pamphlet format and online by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in 2011. My internship with the Council provided unique exposure to groundfish research, management and policy in Alaska.
Groundfish Species Profiles 2011

 


Local knowledge of crab skippers – Crossing the boundaries of science, management, and industry
Leah Sloan

Given the amount of time crabbers spend out on the water, they have a wealth of practical knowledge about crabs, their habitat, distribution, and behavior that is not always picked up in agency surveys or scientific studies. The goal of my internship was to design a survey that would allow Bering Sea crab skippers to document their perspectives and observations each season, ultimately creating a library of local knowledge of crabs in the Bering Sea. I worked with Ruth Christiansen of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers to design an in-season survey for skippers. The  survey's aim is to generate new knowledge of Bering Sea crabs in areas where scientific or management data are poor. Therefore, the first part of my internship was aimed at determining 1) what issues in Bering Sea crab biology are poorly understood yet pertinent to management and 2) on which of these issues crabbers can contribute information. To this end I attended the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's (NPFMC) Crab Plan Team meeting and the NPFMC meeting to become better versed in federal crab management and the information most needed for sustainable fisheries management. I had discussions with members of the Crab Plan Team and the Science and Statistical Committee on where there are knowledge gaps in our understanding of crab biology and how some of these gaps may be filled with local knowledge of crabbers. I then traveled to Seattle and spoke with skippers belonging to Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. Skippers explained to me the type of knowledge they have from crabbing on the Bering Sea and commented on survey design feasibility. To gain firsthand experience on the types of information that crabbers are likely to have, I participated in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game red king crab survey in southeast Alaska. Through discussions with managers and skippers, and firsthand experience, I was able to generate an in-season survey for Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. This survey primarily focuses on by-catch issues and anomalous events, which may be early warning signs of changes in crab populations.

 


Subsistence meets science: A closer look at bowhead whales migrating past Barrow, Alaska
Suzie Teerlink

My internship was spent in Barrow, Alaska working with Dr. Craig George of the North Slope Borough, Division of Wildlife Management (NSB/DWM). For this, I worked on a variety of projects related to bowhead whales. Bowhead whales are important to the indigenous peoples (Inupiat) of this region as a subsistence food source, and many whales (~20) are harvested in Barrow each year. This makes for a rare opportunity to improve our studies of this arctic cetacean by including local traditional knowledge from Inupiat whalers and physical measurements taken from landed whales. I chose this internship because: 1) it offered me the opportunity to travel to and learn about North Slope communities and arctic ecology, 2) its focus was in integration local ecological knowledge and scientific methods, and 3) it offered me the opportunity to learn about a species I would otherwise not likely encounter.

The first goal of my  internship was to work with NSB/DWM staff to develop a protocol for matching aerial photo identification images from surveys of different years. The goal of this method is to use natural marking on the backs of photographed whales to identify individuals between years. This task is challenging due to the magnitude of this project where thousands of individual whales have been photographed each survey year, and special attention to creating structured protocols is key to success. Next, I was interested to learn if I could match landed whales to past aerial surveys photos. So, I identified photos that captured distinguishing natural markings from whale harvests and compared them with aerial photos. Lastly, I interviewed whalers to learn about the Inupiat terms that are used to describe different bowhead whale body types. I then looked at the measurements from these whales to analyze these qualitative descriptions quantitatively. I thoroughly enjoyed working on each of the components of my internship and I am happy to have had the opportunity to visit the North Slope of Alaska and connect with some truly amazing people!


Management summarizing the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's Groundfish Fishery Plans
Ben Williams

Public outreach was the theme for my internship during the summer of 2012. I worked with Jane DiCosimo, Senior Plan Coordinator at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), to summarize two of their Groundfish Fishery Management Plans (FMPs). The Council prepares and modifies FMPs for fisheries under its jurisdiction. Each FMP contains a suite of management tools that together characterize the fishery management regime. Included in the FMPs are how the Council defines a fish stock and establishes harvest guidelines, how accountability measures are implemented to protect the fishery, how catch restrictions are managed, and how fishery resources are allocated. The goal of this internship was to increase accessibility to the technical and lengthy Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Groundfish FMPs in a manner that is approachable for the general public, yet informative enough to be of utility to managers and scientists. To accomplish this I reviewed fishery management information from both FMPs and other assorted management documents. Along the way I gained insight into the federal management and policy of Alaskan waters from both a technical stock assessment view as well as from an allocation view. The results of this internship will be made available to the public in pamphlet format as well as online by the NPFMC.


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