Scientific operations will resume on the research vessel Sikuliaq for one week beginning May 4, preserving an unbroken string of 22 years of ecological data collection.
Special permission has been granted for a small team of researchers from the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to collect water samples in the northern Gulf of Alaska.
This will mark the first time a vessel in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet has been allowed to engage in research activities since COVID-19 grounded the fleet, which is coordinated by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.
The scientists self-quarantined for two weeks prior to boarding the vessel, and are adhering to health mandates while conducting their research.
Rose Dufour, ship operations program director at the National Science Foundation, said, “NSF recognizes the difficult decision to move forward with science operations in these uncertain times, but we feel UAF has done an excellent job in assessing and mitigating the risks.”
UAF operates the Sikuliaq on behalf of NSF, which owns the vessel.