Imarpim Ungungsiit (Marine Mammal) Project
Welcome to the Imarpim Ungungsiit project. This page provides an overview and the general context of the project, which is taking place in southwestern Alaska. Thank you for visiting, and please contact us if you have any questions, comments or ideas.
Alaska Sea Grant research project summary
The Imarpim Ungungsiit project is a collaborative research project between the Bristol Bay Native Association, three member tribes—Traditional Village of Togiak, Native Village of Port Heiden, Native Village of Chignik Lagoon—the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), and others. Our aim is to gain insight and understanding of the ways in which marine mammal ecology and harvesting patterns among hunters in three communities in southwestern Alaska have changed through time.
Our methods include in-depth traditional ecological knowledge interviews and the production of maps showing marine mammal habitat and traditional hunting locations. Field notes and photographs taken during interviews and community visits help to document the local context of the project.
In order to build a timeline of marine mammal ecology in the regions of our partner villages, we have also gathered historical files such as ship logs and old reports. Boat and aerial surveys of marine mammal habitat, abundance, and distribution provide contemporary snapshots of marine mammal ecology. Maps that can be used to delineate areas important for marine conservation planning and regional subsistence priorities will be based on a synthesis of these multiple streams of data.
Through hiring local employees as research assistants, boat operators, and GPS mapping assistants, the project’s additional aim is to build capacity for community-based marine mammal conservation in the region.
- Bristol Bay Marine Mammal Council
- Traditional Council of Togiak
- Port Heiden Village Council
- Chignik Lagoon Village Council
- UAF Bristol Bay Campus
- The Alaska Sea Otter and Steller Sea Lion Commission
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Arctic Marine Mammal Program
- Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA)
The village of Togiak is located on Bristol Bay. Residents of Togiak hunt bearded seal, or maklak, twice a year in the spring and fall. The Traditional Council of Togiak selected fifteen residents to participate in the Imarpim Ungungsiit project. This group of participants consists of experienced bearded seal hunters and residents experienced in processing bearded seal.
The village of Port Heiden is located on Bristol Bay on the Alaska Peninsula. The Native Village of Port Heiden selected eleven people to participate in the Imarpim Ungungsiit project who generously shared their local knowledge about sea otters present in Meshik Bay.
The village of Chignik Lagoon is located on the Pacific Ocean side of the Alaska Peninsula. The Native Village of Chignik Lagoon selected nine people to participate in the Imarpim Ungungsiit project. Participants shared their extensive local knowledge on sea otter ecology and traditional hunting locations in the lagoon and outlying waters.