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WhaleFest Speakers 2012
“Terrestrial Nurseries and Aquatic Grocery Stores: Are Pribilof seabirds and fur seals living in the wrong neighborhood?”
Terrestrial Nurseries and Aquatic Grocery Stores: Are Pribilof seabirds and fur seals living in the wrong neighborhood?
Northern fur seals, thick-billed murres and black-legged kittiwakes are declining in the middle of the Bering Sea on the Pribilof Islands, but are increasing further south along the Aleutian Islands on Bogoslof Island. Dr. Trites will present new findings from an integrated team of researchers that came together to solve this ecological mystery and shed light on the forces that drive increases and decreases of top predators in the Bering Sea.
Andrew lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he is employed at the University of British Columbia and has been studying marine mammals in the North Pacific for over 30 years. He received a BSc in Mathematics and Ecology from McGill University and his MSc and Ph.D. in Zoology from UBC. His research spans the fields of nutrition, ecology, physiology, anthropology and oceanography; and involves captive studies, field studies and simulation models that range from single species to whole ecosystems. Andrew’s research program is designed to further the conservation and understanding of marine mammals, and resolve conflicts between people and marine mammals. Personally, his area of research focus is on seals and sea lions. He recently led the Blue Whale Project to display the world’s largest freely suspended skeleton at the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Andrew’s favorite place in Alaska is the Pribilof Islands where the wildlife outnumbers the people. Click here to download a paper on this topic.
“Is the sky really falling? What is ocean acidification and how does it impact our world?”
Is the sky really falling? What is ocean acidification and how does it impact our world?
The changing chemistry will likely impact the food we gather from the ocean. Dr. Mathis will provide insight in this ecological frontier from the rivers to the sea and how ocean acidification will influence our lives.
Jeremy was born in SE Texas about two hours east of Houston and was the first person in his family to graduate from college. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from McNeese State University in SW Louisiana and a Ph.D. from University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry. In 2007, he joined the faculty at UAF and in 2012 accepted a joint role with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle. His area of research and expertise is marine carbon cycle, ocean acidification, air-sea exchange of CO2, and economic and societal impacts of multiple ocean stressors. Currently, he splits his time between Seattle and Fairbanks. Jeremy’s wife is an attorney in Fairbanks and they both enough spending their free time traveling around the world. Jeremy has traveled to 35 different countries and sailed in every ocean. He loves many places in Alaska but the community of Homer stands out as one of his favorite for the artistic spirit and unmatched scenery. Click here to download a paper on this topic.
“Living in a Humpback World: The shenanigans of a recovering population”
Increasing numbers of humpback whales in Alaska are intersecting with human activities from herring to salmon fisheries. Mr. Moran will use his extensive background in marine mammal research to provide an understanding of the impact of recovering marine mammal populations on ecosystems and highlight the difficulties with mitigating marine mammal-human conflicts.
John completed his undergraduate studies at the University of New Hampshire, M.S in Fisheries from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. John has spent most of his time in Alaska along the coast of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. he has lived in Juneau for 13 years and is a research fisheries biologist at the Auke Bay Laboratories, Alaska Fisheries Science Center and NMFS. His area of expertise and research focus is on understanding the role of recovering marine mammal populations on ecosystem and mitigating marine mammal conflicts with fisheries. He has been working with marine mammals, bird and fish in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic for over 20 years. His experience ranges from zooplankton to whales, however, much of his focus has been on harbor seals, ringed seal, walrus, humpback whales and seabirds. Currently he is monitoring humpback whales in Prince William Sound for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council and will soon be studying the near shore fish communities of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Click here to download a paper on this topic.
“ Are we really connected to the sea?”
For someone living in a coastal community near a river that drains into the Bering Sea, the answer is easy. How about for someone living 500 miles away in Central Alaska? Because Alaska is an “arctic” state, what are our connections to the polar seas? If no humans lived in Alaska, would there still be connections and what would they be?
Dr. Castellini earned his PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1981. He has been a faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 1989. He was Science Director for the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, Alaska from 1995-1999 and then the Director of the Institute of Marine Science at UAF from 2002-2005. Most recently, he was Associate Dean for the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, in spring 2010, he was appointed interim Dean and in 2011 became Dean. Dr. Castellini’s research focuses on how marine mammals have adapted to life in the sea. Ever since his graduate work in San Diego, he has studied marine mammals around the world examining their biochemical, physiological and behavioral adaptations for deep and long duration diving, extended fasting, exercise physiology, hydrodynamics and even sleeping patterns. In Alaska, his work has extended into issues of population health (Why are marine mammal populations declining in some areas?), contaminant chemistry, reproductive chemistry and digestive physiology. Mike’s graduate students work from Alaska to Antarctica on these issues. He as written over 75 scientific papers on his work and is involved in local, state and National panels and committees dealing with policy issues related to marine mammals, ecosystem management and agency oversights. Mike and Jan Straley, WhaleFest Science Director, develop the program for the science symposium each year and discuss the overall theme. Together they are responsible for inviting the speakers for the Scientist in the Schools program and the weekend symposium. This collaboration between the University of Alaska campuses has helped forge and strengthen the connections among Alaskan marine scientists. His favorite location in Alaska is on the Forrester Island complex, about 70 miles southwest offshore of Ketchikan and as far south in the Alaska panhandle as you can get…the islands are covered in Steller sea lions, birds, berries and fortunately, no bears. Wonderful weeks spent there working on sea lions and exploring elfin-like old-growth forest…just amazing. Click here to download a paper on this topic.
“Returning Home: The Miracle of Salmon”
While not as charismatic as a grizzly bear or a humpback whale and certainly not as powerful as a peregrine falcon or wolf; salmon is a gift that shapes our world in Alaska. Originally a TEDx talk in Sitka during the summer of 2012, Dr. Nelson will expand upon this talk while we learn the significance of how salmon link both the human and natural worlds along the entire 34,000 miles of the Alaskan coastline.
Dr. Nelson is a cultural anthropologist and creative nonfiction writer whose work focuses on human relationships to the natural world. He was born in Madison, Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin, and received a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He first came to Alaska in 1961, as a field assistant for a human ecology research project on Kodiak Island. He returned in 1963 to work with archaeologists on a remote island in the Aletians. Over the following years, he lived in Alaskan native villages, helping to record the cultural traditions and intellectual achievements of Inupiaq Eskimo and Athabaskan Indian people. Based on these experiences, he wrote Hunters of the Northern Ice, Hunters of the Northern Forest, Shadow for the Hunter, Make Prayers to the Raven, and The Athabaskans. He was Associate Producer and Writer for an award-winning Public Television series about Koyukon Indian life, titled Make Prayers to the Raven. Richard Nelson has also written more broadly about people and the environment. His book The Island Within, a personal journey into the natural world surrounding his home, received the John Burroughs Award for nature writing. A subsequent book, Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America, which explores the complex and often controversial relationships between people and deer, received the 1998 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. Dr. Nelson has lived in Sitka for 25 years, where he follows his passion for the outdoors and volunteers for a community conservation group. He has written and narrated Encounters Radio Programs since the series began in 2004. He frequently travels to the wildest places in Alaska, as well as Canada and Australia, to record Encounters programs and add to a growing archive of natural sounds. He regards exploring the wilds with a microphone as the perfect combination of play and work, with the serious goal of educating people about our natural heritage.
“Changing the Arctic: One species at a time”
Concern over global biodiversity loss is widespread, and Arctic biodiversity is believed to be changed by climate warming. Dr. Gradinger will present the findings that, although some Arctic animals and plants may be endangered, overall species may benefit from the rich warm-water communities thriving in the region.
Rolf Gradinger studied at two universities in Mainz and Kiel, Germany, earning a Masters and Doctorate degrees in marine biology at Kiel University. His main interest has been in Arctic sea ice ecology. As a Post-Doc and Assistant Professor at two institutions in Germany he explored his interest and later in 2001 he moved to Alaska to work as a polar ecologist at the School of Fisheries and Ocean Science at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Recently, he conducted five Artic expeditions, for three projects funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA with ice breakers and has done more than 12 land based research trips to Barrow, Alaska to explore the activity and diversity of life in Artic sea ice in various locations. In addition to his research, Dr. Gradinger has lead the Census of Marine Life Arctic Ocean Diversity projects since 2004 and is a member of many national research committees including; UNOLS AICC, NSF BEST Scientific Steering Group. Also, he is the editor of the Journal Polar Biology. Currently he lives in Fairbanks, AK and enjoys classical music, birding, fishing, kayaking and spending time with his family. His favorite place to be in Alaska is kayaking in Prince William Sound. Click here to download a paper by Gradinger.
“Everyone knows where the land ends and the sea begins, or do they?”
Intuitively, terrestrial and marine ecosystems are different entities, but many species move between them and their transit has important impacts on the receiving ecosystem. Dr. Heintz will illustrate this principle using salmon as an example. Each year salmon deliver tons of nutrients from marine ecosystems into streams along the northwest coast of North America. In return, terrestrial ecosystems produce juvenile salmon, which are important predators in marine ecosystems. Dr. Heintz will describe the intricate relationship between land and sea in the place we call home.
Ron moved to Juneau 32 years ago and started grad school as a Master’s Student in Fisheries at UAS. His thesis was on the ecology of Dolly Varden in a barriered lake on Baranof Island. He has worked for NOAA at Auke Bay since 1985 and began by doing aquaculture research at Little Port Walter. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Ron began studying oil toxicology using pink salmon as a model and found that oil is extremely toxic to developing embryos. After that he obtained his PhD from UAF by relating the energy delivered to streams by adult salmon to the energy required by juvenile salmon to survive winter. Beginning around 2000, he started the Nutritional Ecology Laboratory at Auke Bay and uses analytical chemistry and bioenergetic modeling to understand why sea lions aggregate on Benjerman Island in winter, why the herring population in Prince William Sound is not recovering and he sorts out the relative roles of starvation and predation as constraints on the over winter survival of juvenile fishes. His area of research focus is nutritional ecology, where he uses chemistry to understand trophic interactions between fish, their prey and predators. Ron’s favorite place in Alaska, besides his house, is Wood-Tikchik State Park because of the delicious caribou roaming around. Click here to download a paper on this topic.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Crabs”
King crab and “The Deadliest Catch” have made crabs the charismatic macro fauna of Alaska. Coupled with competition from sea otters, crabs are at the forefront of the human-ocean connection. Dr. Tamone will share her knowledge of the diversity among the many species and habitats of crabs and the potential influence of human fisheries on the life history of crabs.
Sherry lives in Juneau Alaska with her husband and 2 teenagers. She completed a B.S. in Biochemistry from San Francisco State University and got her Ph.D. in Endocrinology from US Davis, Bodega Marine Laboratory. Currently, she is working at the University of Alaska Southeast teaching Invertebrate Zoology and Physiology of Marine Animals. Sherry considers herself a comparative physiologist that maintains a focus on the organism and her research is primarily focused on hormonal regulation of growth and reproduction in commercially important crabs. In her free time, she enjoys SCUBA diving, hiking, kayaking, camping, and is an avid runner. She loves Southeast Alaska for the marine wildlife, fishing, trail running, the communities and the pace of life. Click here to download a paper by Sherry.
“Going to Sea in a Sieve: Is it easier to live in the ocean or on land?”
Dr. Williams has studied how big animals earn a living and survive while observing the livelihoods of cheetahs, mountain lions, elephants, seals, otters and killer whales. She will share this unique perspective on adaptation and differences between the ocean and land dwellers.
Terrie received a B.A. in Biology from Douglass College, New Brunswick, a M.S. and Ph.D. in Physiology from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and from 1981-1984 she was a Physiology Post-doc at the University of CA, San Diego. During the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill she was the director of the Valdez Sea Otter Rescue Center and was the Co-founder of the Center for Ocean Health, UCSC. Currently, she is the director of the Marine Mammal Physiology Project (Long Marine Lab) and has done nine Antarctic expeditions to study Weddell seal diving physiology. She authored a book called “the Odyssey of KP2” about an orphaned Hawaiian monk seal and the race to save this endangered species. Terrie owns many dogs and is an Iditarod enthusiast. Presently, she is studying the exercise physiology of sled dogs and herself is a very active triathlete that completed the 2011 Ironman Coeur D’Alene. Terrie presently lives in Santa Cruz, CA but when she is in Alaska she loves being on Marmot and Forrester Islands. Click here to download a paper by Williams.