Fishlines newsletter

Vol. 34, No. 2
February 2014

Coming up!

Workshop on community-based environmental monitoring set for April

volunteer monitors on dockPhoto by Deborah Mercy.

Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Ocean Observing System will host the workshop “Community-Based Monitoring: Observing Alaska's Coasts and Oceans” on April 1–2, 2014, in Anchorage. Participants will hear from leaders of model CBM programs; consider priorities for community members, researchers and funders; develop guidance documents—including best practices and lessons learned—and network with others across the state who are actively doing this work. The workshop is directed toward community residents, educators, researchers, state and federal agencies, and nonprofits interested in exploring these issues. Registration is free—online at the workshop website—and travel scholarships are available.

Speakers include Bruce Wright, senior scientist at the Aleutian/Pribilof Island Association; Kathryn Kurtz, STEM coordinator for the Anchorage School District; Mike Brubaker, of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; and social scientist Henry Huntington. Peter Pulsifer will summarize Alaska community-based monitoring efforts displayed in the online Atlas of Community-Based Monitoring in a Changing Arctic. Workshop organizers encourage current CBM programs in the state to connect to the atlas between now and the time of the workshop. They can contact Carol Kaynor at Alaska Sea Grant,, to submit a program to the atlas.

For the most part, best practices for community-based monitoring in other US states are applicable in Alaska, and will be discussed at the workshop. But our remote environment makes us different. In addition, “there are some interesting contrasts in the north—we observe permafrost thaw and other changes in ice that the more southern states do not experience, we have a rich cultural heritage of traditional knowledge and monitoring by Alaska Natives, and we have many international efforts with Canada, Russia, and circumpolar Inuit communities,” said Ellen Tyler, organizing committee chair and AOOS program manager.

Alaska coastal-based monitoring programs range from water quality monitoring by tribes for the US Environmental Protection Agency database, to monitoring shellfish for harmful algal toxins by communities through the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, to the Smithsonian-sponsored monitoring of invasive species such as tunicates and European green crab. CBM programs are an attractive way to collect environmental data because of low cost compared to other data collection, and because of the community education, engagement, and stewardship that accompany successful programs. With climate change hitting Alaska hard, an accelerated pace of change has heightened interest in local observations.

Alaska Marine Science Symposium student awards

Thomas Farrugia and Paula CullenbergThomas Farrugia and Paula Cullenberg. Photo by Deborah Mercy.

Congratulations to the student winners of nine awards at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium. Three of those high-achieving students have an Alaska Sea Grant connection.

Alaska Sea Grant sponsored two awards. Thomas Farrugia, whose graduate work is funded in part by Alaska Sea Grant, was awarded first place in the PhD category for his oral presentation, “Nutritional and containment analysis of skates in the Gulf of Alaska: Shaping future skate demand." Michael Courtney won first place at the MS level for his presentation, “Dispersal patterns and summer oceanic distribution of adult Dolly Varden from the Wulik River, Alaska, evaluated using satellite telemetry.”

Dana Wright, whose major professor is Marine Advisory Program marine mammal specialist Bree Witteveen, won second place for her MS student poster, “The importance of basal food web delta 15N values in trophic ecology studies: Kodiak humpback whale case study.” Wright’s award was sponsored by the North Pacific Research Board. All three students are in the UAF school of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Alaska Sea Grant marine education specialist Marilyn Sigman chaired the student awards committee. She coordinated 50 judges who scored 100 student presentations—80 posters and 20 oral.

Population Genetics of Blue King Crab

Jennifer StoutamoreJennifer Stoutamore

Alaska Sea Grant–funded student Jennifer Stoutamore successfully defended her MS thesis, “Population genetics and mating structure of blue king crab (Paralithodes platypus)” in January. Stoutamore and UAS/UAF associate professor Dave Tallmon conducted research on genetic population structure and reproductive biology of blue king crab, to better inform fishery management efforts. Blue king crab has been an economically important species in Alaska since the 1970s. Its abundance has decreased substantially since the mid-1980s, but has not rebounded to previous levels despite fisheries closures.

Stoutamore worked with blue king crab samples from 770 crabs in eight locations in Southeast Alaska, the Bering Sea, and Russia. She detected moderate genetic differences among all locations, and all evidence supports single paternity for this species, where in one season a female’s eggs are all fertilized by a single male.

This study suggests that Alaska blue king crab stocks should be managed at the population level, monitored for genetic changes between generations, and that potential enhancement activities incorporate the single paternity mating system into determinations of broodstock composition and number.

Video series selected as a CLEAN resource for teachers

The video series Faces of Climate Change was selected as a CLEAN resource for teachers. The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Deborah Mercy, Alaska Sea Grant communications coordinator, produced the videos in 2011.

New Alaska Marine Job Board

Looking for employment in marine-related fields in Alaska? The new Alaska marine job board connects people to Alaska jobs, fellowships, and internships in fisheries, seafood, and maritime industries. Dave Partee, Alaska Sea Grant web/database developer, created the job board to continue a career service that was on the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences website.