Research Vessel Sikuliaq Expands Ways to Study Gulf of Alaska Ecosystems

Sikuliaq pulls into Seward before departing for the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research cruise in May. Photo by Sarah Spanos

Editor’s note: New funding and the use of the research vessel Sikuliaq have revolutionized data collection in the Gulf of Alaska by increasing the space and workforce available to conduct complex experiments at sea.

With 20 years of research and data to support their efforts, scientists in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research program strive to better understand how physical processes and climate variability influence the base of the food web in the productive northern Gulf of Alaska. Led by researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and their collaborators, the first LTER research expedition on Sikuliaq concluded in May 2018.

This is the first story in a four-part series documenting successes and preliminary findings from that expedition.

The Gulf of Alaska supports a diverse ecosystem that includes several commercially important fisheries, as well as culturally and economically important marine mammals and birds. All of these species are fueled by tiny organisms at the base of the food chain. Observations indicate that changes in these communities of tiny organisms are linked to climate variability, but these links are poorly understood. Researchers want to better understand these links so they can evaluate how the gulf’s fisheries and marine mammals may be impacted by changes in the environment.

Read the full article here.

Source: Research vessel Sikuliaq expands ways to study Gulf of Alaska ecosystems – News Miner

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