Field Reports from the Oscar Dyson
9-30 April 2008
Depart: Kodiak, AK
Return: Dutch Harbor, AK
Josh London (NMML), John Jansen (NMML), Dave Withrow (NMML), Shawn Dahle (NMML), Heather Ziel (NMML), and John Goodwin (Alaska Native, Ice Seal Committee).
The Ice Seal Breeding Ecology Cruise is part of an on-going effort by the National Marine Mammal Laboratory's Polar Ecosystems Program to understand the association ribbon and spotted seals have with sea-ice in the Bering Sea during their annual breeding period. This cruise will focus on the marginal ice edge in the Bering Sea between longitudes 170W and 179W. Bering Sea sea-ice ecosystems have been changing in recent years and are predicted to change even more in the next several years. Ribbon seals are one of the least studied pinnipeds and we hope our work will help us understand how seals may respond to a changing environment.
The main objective for this cruise is to capture seals and deploy satellite linked tags. Researchers capture seals on ice floes by slowly approaching in inflatable boats and leaping out to catch the seals with long-handled nets. The satellite tags transmit for approximately one year. We will also be collecting valuable samples from animals we capture for health and genetic screening. Our research team consists of six scientists from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory and two Alaska Natives representing the Ice Seal Committee.
The field reports we are providing this year will be a first for our program, and we hope those of you following along will enjoy and learn from our postings.