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Keep up on What’s Happening on the Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Arctic Cruise in August


Throughout the month of August, Jessica Randall, part of the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI) program with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, will be sending dispatches from the NOAA ship Ron Brown. The ship is conducting surveys in the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to obtain baseline oceanographic data. Sampling is also being conducted at hotspots for productivity and biodiversity, known as Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) sites (for more information see:

This survey, in its fifth year of operations, is part of a multi-institutional effort to improve our understanding of arctic ecosystems.

August 9, 2015 – Coccolithophore bloom sighted

refer to caption
(This image taken on April 25, 1998, shows the coccolithophore bloom in the Bering Sea. The greenish color is caused by the high concentration of phytoplankton. Photo NASA. )

This afternoon one of our bird observers spotted the beginnings of a coccolithophore bloom offshore of Nunivak Island. Characterized by the cloudy, aquamarine tint they turn the surface waters, coccolithophores are a single-celled phytoplankton with calcium carbonate shells. Historically reported in the late summer and early fall in the Bering Sea, a particularly massive bloom in 1997 is attributed to the die-off of thousands ofshort-tailed shearwaters (seabirds) that were unable to spot their euphausiid prey.

In 2014 onboard the  Oscar Dyson for a BASIS survey (Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey), we observed another large bloom spanning much of the eastern Bering Sea (More info on last year’s bloom is available at on the ECOFOCI website). The icy blue water of last year’s cruise paired with a week of rare, beautiful sunshine made us feel like we were sampling in the tropics instead of the Bering Sea!



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