Alaska Science Center
Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program (OCSEAP)
The Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program (OCSEAP, 1975-1985), was a program funded through the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop baseline data in anticipation of oil development on Alaska's Continental Shelf. The need for comprehensive geographic data on the pelagic distribution of seabirds in Alaska and the North Pacific has long been recognized. During the OCSEAP Program millions of dollars were spent to gather data on the pelagic distributions of marine birds and mammals on the continental shelves. Ancillary data were routinely collected on environmental conditions (e.g., ice, temperature, salinity). This work culminated in an atlas on the "Pelagic Distribution and Abundance of Seabirds in the Gulf of Alaska and Eastern Bering Sea" (Gould et al. 1982), which documented the at-sea distribution and abundance of 16 common seabird species in Alaska. In addition to this work, extensive reports by other key investigators laid the foundation for our understanding of the pelagic biology and distribution of seabirds in Alaska. A current version of the OCSEAP database includes 248 data files, comprising >60,000 standard transects with >325,000 records that document the environment, distribution and group size of >4,000,000 animals.
Small Schooling Fish and predators in Glacier Bay National Park (SSF)
Glacier Bay National Park comprises a relatively pristine marine environment, and hosts a variety of marine predators such as humpback whales and seabirds. Variability in the abundance and distribution of these predators may be linked to changes in the availability of SSF, but little is known about the biology, abundance or habitat use by SSF in the Glacier Bay ecosystem. We are studying SSF and predators using similar methods employed in the Cook Inlet Seabird and Forage Fish project, including hydroacoustic surveys, trawls, and seines to study SSF, and pelagic surveys to assess the abundance and distribution of marine predators. Funded by USGS (Base and NRPP funds), and Glacier Bay National Park. Reduced field work will take place in FY00.
Cook Inlet Seabird and Forage Fish Study (CISeaFFS)
A key to understanding seabird population dynamics is to characterize the biological responses of seabirds to fluctuations in prey abundance, distribution and quality. This long-term study forms the basis of the Alaska Science Center - Biological Science Office Seabird Project, and is designed to measure foraging (functional) and population (numerical) responses of six seabird species to fluctuating forage fish densities at three seabird colonies in lower Cook Inlet. This involves at-sea surveys (hydroacoustic, trawling, seining) for forage fish while measuring aspects of seabird breeding biology and behavior at adjacent colonies. Funded by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) Trustees under the Apex Predator Experiment (APEX) program, and by USGS (including Base and MMS-OCS funds). Collaboration with Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (ANMWR), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), Institute of Marine Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks (IMS-UAF) and several universities. Last year of field work was FY99. Reduced funding for write-up in FY00-01.
Seabird and Marine Mammal Coordinated Investigations (SMMOCI)
Measuring seabird and marine mammal productivity, populations, and diets, hydroacoustic and trawl surveys for prey and oceanographic studies around 9 different long-term study colonies in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Chukchi Sea. No direct USGS funding. Conducted in collaboration with AMNWR, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and IMS-UAF. Project will continue in FY00 with surveys in SE Alaska (St. Lazaria Island).