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Kittiwakes, Herring and Anemones, Oh My!

North Pacific Research Board announces 2014 photo contest winners.

The North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) awarded a total of over $3000 to the winners of the 2014 installment of its annual photo contest. The winning images from the 2014 contest will be featured alongside 2013 contest winners in the 2015 NPRB calendar, which will be available to the public for free in January 2015. View the winning images.

Congratulations to all the photographers!

In the adult category,

First place: Nesting kittiwakes escape calving at Northland Glacier (Blackstone Bay, Prince William Sound) by Bill Rome of Eagle River
Second place: Sac roe herring fishery in Sitka Sound by Glenn Aronwits of Anchorage
Third place: Anemones in Sitka Harbor by Ward Hulbert of Anchorage

In the youth category,

First place: The remains of decaying dead pink salmon create a striking pattern by Lione Clare of Sitka
Second place: No bird in sight by Meret Beutler of Seward
Third place:  Living on the edge by Meret Beutler of Seward

What We Do in Alaska in the Winter: Rockfish Party!

What We Do in Alaska in the Winter: Rockfish Party!

February 21, 2014
by Molly Zaleski

It's a rockfish party up here in Juneau! We're bioprocessing young of the year (YOY) rockfish that were collected in 2013. What does 'bioprocessing' mean? It means we've taken fin clips from them so that a partnering lab can identify if they're Pacific Ocean perch or a different kind of rockfish. We've also taken tissue samples from some to measure their RNA/DNA ratios. On top of that, we removed their stomach contents so that we can get a snapshot of what these little fellows have eaten. This can be pretty difficult because, while most of them have been frozen nicely and look like this:

Some of them have been squished in the transfer from the Gulf of Alaska to Juneau and look like this:

But we've got a crack team on the job to pull the stomach contents proficiently! Shout-outs to our contractor team: Wess Strasburger, Casey Debenham, Hannah Findlay, Tayler Jarvis, and Eamon Conheady.

Finally, they rockfish are dried (to calculate how much of their bodies are tissue versus moisture), and then processed for their chemical components: energy, lipids, ash, and protein. The energy is calculated through bomb calorimetry which is a really fun way of saying we blow them up and calculate the resulting energy from their fish-splosion!


It's a lot of information from some very tiny fish! And while it's fun working with the rockfish, we've noticed, anecdotally, that their eyes seem to be the last things that grind up when we try to homogenize the fish into a fine powder, which leaves me with the Rockwell hit, “Somebody's Watching Me” stuck in my head. If it's now stuck in your head, you're welcome! 

Map Matters

Map Matters

Habitat maps are a useful tool to fisheries researchers and assessors but are not often available for a large scale project.  Jodi Pirtle, a postdoc working for the Gulf of Alaska project, applies her seafloor mapping skill set to the Gulf of Alaska Integrated Ecosystem project to provide information on habitat.

Born and raised in Cordova, Alaska, Pirtle finds a lot of meaning in the work she is contributing to the project. “I've been thinking about this stuff my whole life,” she says.  In the effort to better understand five species of commercially caught fish, Pirtle has been overlaying fisheries survey data on high resolution seafloor maps to get a better idea of the habitat preference of different fish. 

“It's landscape modeling which has been going on a long time on land, now applied to the ocean,” says Pirtle who works at the NOAA Auke Bay Lab in Juneau.  “We are taking GIS data of all kinds – kelp beds, geology, seafloor terrain – and merging that with fisheries survey data to generate habitat suitability models and maps.”  This kind of work has gone on on a small scale throughout the Gulf but this is the first large scale Gulf wide project of its kind. 

Phil Clapham

Phil Clapham

NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Dr. Phil Clapham is the leader of the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program at the National Marine Mammal Lab in Seattle. His work focuses on population biology, behavioral ecology and conservation management, with particular emphasis on large whales. He has studied cetaceans since 1980, and at one time or another has worked with most species of whales in various places worldwide.

Prior to his current position, he worked at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He remains associated with the Smithsonian Institution (National Museum of Natural History) in Washington DC, and for many years directed a long-term study of individually identified humpback whales at the Center for Coastal Studies in Massachusetts.

Phil holds a PhD in zoology from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland), and has advised several governments and other bodies on whale research and conservation. Phil is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and is a long-time member of the US delegation to the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee. He is an editor for two scientific journals (Biology Letters and Mammal Review), and has published four books and more than a hundred peer-reviewed papers on whales and other cetaceans.

Phil Clapham

Kerim Aydin

NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Kerim Aydin is the Supervisory Research Fishery Biologist of the Resource Ecology and Ecosystem Modeling Program, Alaska Fisheries Science Center. His current research is focused on modeling predator/prey interactions, both from an individual behavioral standpoint and from a population (food web model) standpoint, on developing data collection techniques for examining marine food webs (e.g. , diet studies and stable isotope examinations of fish communities), and on applying these models in a fisheries management context. He is particularly interested in the stability and complexity of large marine food webs and how structural elements of marine food webs evolve in response to climate variation. He received his PhD in 2000 from the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Phil Clapham

Meet the Research Team

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The Gulf of Alaska Board of Investigators (GABI) includes representation from each of the major project components and is responsible for ensuring effective communication between the scientists involved in each of the different aspects of this integrated research project. Current GABI members are Olav Ormseth (middle trophic level), Carol Ladd (modeling), Franz Mueter/Kalei Shotwell (upper trophic level), Russ Hopcroft (lower trophic level), and Molly McCammon (data management).

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Danielle Dickson is the NPRB Program Manager for the Gulf of Alaska Integrated Ecosystem Research Program. She works closely with the Gulf of Alaska Board of Investigators (GABI) to make sure that the scientists from the different components of the project communicate effectively and make progress on meeting the various objectives of the project.  Danielle is also serving as the managing guest editor for the Gulf of Alaska thematic special issues that will be published in Deep Sea Research II. 

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Over 45 experts in various fields including physcial, chemical, and biological oceanography, fisheries, seabird and marine mammal science, and ecological modeling all participated in this study. Expand the list below to see the list of scientists and their affiliations. 


Click to Expand
Name Affiliation Email
Aguilar-Islas, Ana University of Alaska Fairbanks
Atkinson, Shannon University of Alaska Fairbanks
Aydin, Kerim NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Bochenek, Rob Axiom Consulting and Design
Budge, Suzanne Dalhousie University
Busch, Lisa Sitka Sound Science Center
Coffin, Brendan University of Alaska Fairbanks  
Coyle, Ken University of Alaska Fairbanks
DeRobertis, Alex NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Doyle, Miriam University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere & Ocean
Fournier, Wyatt NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Frederickson, Kerri Western Washington University
Gibson, Georgina University of Alaska Fairbanks
Golden, Nadine U.S. Geological Survey
Hedstrom, Kate University of Alaska Fairbanks
Heintz, Ron NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Hermann, Al University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere & Ocean
Hinckley, Sarah NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Hopcroft, Russ University of Alaska Fairbanks
Horne, John University of Washington
Kachel, Nancy University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere & Ocean
Koeppen, Will Axiom Consulting and Design
Ladd, Carol NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
Martin, Ross Axiom Consulting and Design
Matarese, Ann NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
McCammon, Molly Alaska Ocean Observing System
McGowan, Dave University of Washington
McKenzie, Liz Sitka Sound Science Center
Mordy, Calvin University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere & Ocean
Moss, Jamal NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Mueter, Franz University of Alaska Fairbanks
Napp, Jeff NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Ormseth, Olav NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Parada, Carolina University of Washington
Pirtle, Jodi NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Rand, Kimberly NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Reid, Jane U.S. Geological Survey
Seguret, Marie University of Alaska Fairbanks
Shotwell, Kalei NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Slater, Leslie U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Sreenivasan, Ashwin NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Stabeno, Phyllis NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
Stockhausen, William NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Stockwell, Dean University of Alaska Fairbanks
Strom, Suzanne Western Washington University
Sullivan, Peggy University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere & Ocean
Vollenweider, Johanna NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Waite, Jason University of Alaska Fairbanks
Wang, Shiway Sedna Ecological
Zaleski, Molly NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Zimmermann, Mark NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

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Alaska Ocean Observing System and Axiom Consulting and Design have teamed up to provide data management services for the Gulf of Alaska Project. They have established a private electronic workspace to facilitate data sharing among the scientists working on the project. They also plan to launch a public website where metadata will be shared in order to facilitate collaboration with others working in the Gulf of Alaska.  The team is helping the scientists to organize their data, author metadata, and create a permanent data archive.  To read the full statement of work for this project, click here.

Scope of Work



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