News Article | May 2, 2017
In a path breaking motion on Monday, May 1, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. federal agency for protection of flora and fauna had requested the Supreme Court to designate a major chunk of Arctic ice shelf (120 million acres) as critical polar bear habitat. The state of Alaska along with the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, other local governments, and native corporations filed a petition against the demands of the USFWS. However, the Supreme Court did not accept the lawsuits filed by the abovementioned corporations and governments, and chose to support the USFWS. The decision comes shortly after President Trump's latest executive order, which cracks down on new offshore oil drilling taking place in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The case challenging the USFWS — which the Supreme Court shot down — will now give the polar bears access to 187,000 square miles of clean and undisturbed barrier islands, sea ice, and coastal areas of Alaska to settle and breed. In 2010, the federal government designated the area a critical habitat. Initially, a district court turned down the polar bear habitat designation. However, the decision was later overturned thanks to an appeals court. The native groups appealing against the USFWS' critical habitat designation of 2010 stated that the federal organization misused its authority and overextended it in the name of conservation. They also stated that the designation of the area as a critical habitat had nothing to do with conservation, and would affect the economy of the country and the region significantly. Apart from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the state itself, other groups who protested against this habitat designation included the North Slope Borough, Arctic Slope Regional Corp., NANA Regional Corp. Inc., Calista Corp., Bering Straits Native Corp., Tikigaq Corp., Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corp., Olgoonik Corp. Inc., Kuupik Corp., the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, and the Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. The above-mentioned groups petitioned to the Supreme Court that the agency was making "sweeping designations (in this case an area the size of California) that overlap with existing human development (including, even, industrial areas)" all thanks to the decision of the ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals The groups also complained that in the state of Alaska, the habitat designations also got in the way of tribal sovereignty and the current ongoing oil drilling operations of the region. The polar bears of the Arctic were listed under the "threatened" category in the Endangered Species Act in 2008. In early 2017, federal officials released a report stating that climate change is the gravest threat the animals face. The habitat designation for the polar bears in the Arctic are seen as a step to safeguard the animals' survival. "This victory helps ensure that polar bears keep the habitat protections they need for a shot at surviving our rapidly warming world," Kristen Monsell, attorney at Center for Biological Diversity remarked in support of the Supreme Court's decision. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
George J.,North Slope Borough |
Rosa C.,North Slope Borough |
Kishida T.,Kyoto University
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2011
Although there are several isolated references to the olfactory anatomy of mysticetes, it is usually thought that olfaction is rudimentary in this group. We investigated the olfactory anatomy of bowhead whales and found that these whales have a cribriform plate and small, but histologically complex olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb makes up approximately 0.13% of brain weight, unlike odontocetes where this structure is absent. We also determined that 51% of olfactory receptor genes were intact, unlike odontocetes, where this number is less than 25%. This suggests that bowheads have a sense of smell, and we speculate that they may use this to find aggregations of krill on which they feed. © 2010 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.
Quakenbush L.T.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game |
Citta J.J.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game |
George J.C.,North Slope Borough |
Small R.J.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game |
Heide-Jorgensen M.P.,Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
Arctic | Year: 2010
Working with subsistence whale hunters, we tagged 19 mostly immature bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) with satellite-linked transmitters between May 2006 and September 2008 and documented their movements in the Chukchi Sea from late August through December. From Point Barrow, Alaska, most whales moved west through the Chukchi Sea between 71° and 74° N latitude; nine whales crossed in six to nine days. Three whales returned to Point Barrow for 13 to 33 days, two after traveling 300 km west and one after traveling ∼725 km west to Wrangel Island, Russia; two then crossed the Chukchi Sea again while the other was the only whale to travel south along the Alaskan side of the Chukchi Sea. Seven whales spent from one to 21 days near Wrangel Island before moving south to northern Chukotka. Whales spent an average of 59 days following the Chukotka coast southeastward. Kernel density analysis identified Point Barrow, Wrangel Island, and the northern coast of Chukotka as areas of greater use by bowhead whales that might be important for feeding. All whales traveled through a potential petroleum development area at least once. Most whales crossed the development area in less than a week; however, one whale remained there for 30 days. © The Arctic Institute of North America.
Moore S.E.,Washington Technology |
George J.C.,North Slope Borough |
Sheffield G.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game |
Bacon J.,North Slope Borough |
Ashjian C.J.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Arctic | Year: 2010
Aerial surveys for bowhead whales were conducted in conjunction with oceanographic sampling near Barrow, Alaska, in late summer of 2005 and 2006. In 2005, 145 whales were seen, mostly in two distinct aggregations: one (ca. 40 whales) in deep water in Barrow Canyon and the other (ca. 70 whales) in very shallow (< 10 m) water just seaward of the barrier islands. Feeding behaviours observed in the latter group included whales lying on their sides with mouths agape and groups of 5-10 whales swimming synchronously in turbid water. In 2006, 78 bowheads were seen, with ca. 40 whales feeding in dispersed groups of 3-11 whales. Feeding behaviours observed included surface skimming, echelon swimming, and synchronous diving and surfacing. Surfacing behaviour included head lunges by single animals and groups of 2-4 whales. Of 29 whales harvested at Barrow, 24 had been feeding. Euphausiids were the dominant prey in 2006 (10 of 13 stomachs), but not in 2005 (4 of 11 stomachs). Copepods were the dominant prey in the stomachs of three whales harvested near Barrow Canyon in 2005. Mysiids were the dominant prey in four stomachs, isopods in two, and amphipods in one although these taxa were not routinely captured during plankton sampling conducted in the weeks prior to the autumn harvest. © The Arctic Institute of North America.
Harwood L.A.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans |
Smith T.G.,EMC Eco Marine Corporation |
George J.C.,North Slope Borough |
Sandstrom S.J.,Natural Resources Canada |
And 3 more authors.
Progress in Oceanography | Year: 2015
Studies of the body condition of five marine vertebrate predators in the Beaufort Sea, conducted independently during the past 2-4 decades, suggest each has been affected by biophysical changes in the marine ecosystem. We summarize a temporal trend of increasing body condition in two species (bowhead whale subadults, Arctic char), in both cases influenced by the extent and persistence of annual sea ice. Three other species (ringed seal, beluga, black guillemot chicks), consumers with a dietary preference for Arctic cod, experienced declines in condition, growth and/or production during the same time period. The proximate causes of these observed changes remain unknown, but may reflect an upward trend in secondary productivity, and a concurrent downward trend in the availability of forage fishes, such as the preferred Arctic cod. To further our understanding of these apparent ecosystem shifts, we urge the use of multiple marine vertebrate species in the design of biophysical sampling studies to identify causes of these changes. Continued long-term, standardized monitoring of vertebrate body condition should be paired with concurrent direct (stomach contents) or indirect (isotopes, fatty acids) monitoring of diet, detailed study of movements and seasonal ranges to establish and refine baselines, and identification of critical habitats of the marine vertebrates being monitored. This would be coordinated with biophysical and oceanographic sampling, at spatial and temporal scales, and geographic locations, that are relevant to the home range, critical habitats and prey of the vertebrate indicator species showing changes in condition and related parameters. © 2015.
Horstmann-Dehn L.,University of Alaska Fairbanks |
Follmann E.H.,University of Alaska Fairbanks |
Rosa C.,Us Arctic Research Commission |
Zelensky G.,Chukotka Science Support Group |
George C.,North Slope Borough
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2012
Collection of minimally invasive biopsy samples has become an important method to establish normal stable isotopes reference ranges in various wildlife species. Baseline data enhance the understanding of feeding ecology, habitat use, and potential food limitation in apparently healthy, free-ranging cetaceans. Epidermis and muscle were collected from subsistence-hunted northern Alaskan bowhead (n= 133 epidermis/134 muscle) and beluga whales (n= 42/49) and subsistence-hunted Russian gray whales (n= 25/17). Additional samples were obtained from gray whales stranded in California (n= 18/11) during mortality events (1999, 2000). Both δ 15N and δ 13C are trophic position and benthic/pelagic feeding indicators, respectively, in muscle and epidermis. Epidermis is generally enriched in 15N over muscle, while epidermal 13C is more depleted. Lipid extraction does not alter δ 15N in either tissue, but affects epidermal δ 13C. Nitrogen-15 is enriched in muscle, but not epidermis of stranded compared to subsistence-hunted gray whales, indicating probable protein catabolism and nutritional stress in stranded whales. Similarly, epidermal δ 13C of harvested whales is lower than in stranded whales, suggesting depleted lipid stores and/or food limitation in stranded animals. Epidermal isotope signatures are similar in both present-day bowheads and in an ancient sample from the Northern Bering Sea region. Although only one specimen, this suggests trophic level of the ancient whale compares to modern bowheads after a millennium. © 2011 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.
Hunt K.E.,John H Prescott Marine Laboratory |
Stimmelmayr R.,North Slope Borough |
Stimmelmayr R.,University of Alaska Fairbanks |
George C.,North Slope Borough |
And 4 more authors.
Conservation Physiology | Year: 2014
Arctic marine mammals are facing increasing levels of many anthropogenic stressors. Novel tools are needed for assessment of stress physiology and potential impacts of these stressors on health, reproduction and survival. We have investigated baleen as a possible novel tissue type for retrospective assessment of stress and reproductive hormones. We found that pulverized baleen powder from bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) contained immunoreactive cortisol and progesterone that were detectable with commercially available enzyme immunoassay kits. Both assays passed parallelism and accuracy validations using baleen extracts. We analysed cortisol and progesterone at the base of the baleen plate (most recently grown baleen) from 16 bowhead whales of both sexes. For a subset of 11 whales, we also analysed older baleen from 10, 20 and 30 cm distal to the base of the baleen plate. Immunoreactive cortisol and progesterone were detectable in all baleen samples tested. In base samples, females had significantly higher concentrations of cortisol and progesterone compared with males. Cortisol concentrations in older baleen (10, 20 and 30 cm locations) were significantly lower than at the base and did not exhibit correlations with age-class or sex. Progesterone concentrations were significantly higher in females than in males at all baleen locations tested and were significantly higher in pregnant females than in non-pregnant females. Four of five mature females showed dramatic variation in progesterone concentrations at different locations along the baleen plate that may be indicative of previous pregnancies or luteal phases. In contrast, all males and all immature females had uniformly low progesterone. Baleen hormone analysis is a novel approach that, with further methodological development, may be useful for determining individual longitudinal profiles of reproductive cycles and stress responses. © The Author 2014.
News Article | November 30, 2016
America’s farthest north municipal police department, North Slope Borough PD, has chosen eFORCE Software to meet its unique needs. “I was very impressed by the sales team and the product demo,” said Chief Travis Welch, when asked what influenced his decision to partner with eFORCE. The police department will be using eFORCE Computer-Aided Dispatch, Records Management, Jail Management and Civil Process software solutions to help make their jobs easier and their community safer. “eFORCE will improve our efficiency and allow our department to be proactive,” said Welch, who also said he was particularly excited about the evidence module within the software. Chief Welch leads a department of 45 sworn officers who serve roughly 10,000 citizens. These officers can be found at the department’s headquarters in Barrow, along with locations spread throughout each of the seven outlying villages and Prudhoe Bay. The department’s mission is “to work in partnership with [its] citizens to create safe and healthy communities, to be respectful of all cultures and people, and to preserve the unique quality of life in North Slope Borough communities.” Select members of the North Slope Borough PD were able to attend eFORCE’s 2016 Users Conference, held earlier this year in October. There, they received a deeper introduction to the software, and were able to network and collaborate with other eFORCE customers. Welch said the time he spent at the conference and meeting the eFORCE team has been the best part of his experience working with the public safety software provider, so far. North Slope Borough is comprised of nearly 95,000 square miles across northern Alaska. The police department is located in Barrow, which is also home to a jail and a 24-hour emergency dispatch center. eFORCE Software is a tenured public safety software provider that offers flexible, state-of-the art, web-based solutions in a hosted or locally installed environment. Hundreds of customers enjoy the benefits of eFORCE’s proven, leading-edge technologies, which range from small hosted campus police departments to an entire country. For additional information, visit https://eforcesoftware.com.
Herreman J.,North Slope Borough |
Peacock E.,U.S. Geological Survey
Ursus | Year: 2013
Remains of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) harvested by Iñupiat whalers are deposited in bone piles along the coast of Alaska and have become persistent and reliable food sources for polar bears (Ursus maritimus). The importance of bone piles to individuals and the population, the patterns of use, and the number, sex, and age of bears using these resources are poorly understood. We implemented barbed-wire hair snaring to obtain genetic identities from bears using the Point Barrow bone pile in winter 2010-11. Eighty-three percent of genotyped samples produced individual and sex identification. We identified 97 bears from 200 samples. Using genetic mark-recapture techniques, we estimated that 228 bears used the bone pile during November to February, which would represent approximately 15% of the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear subpopulation, if all bears were from this subpopulation. We found that polar bears of all age and sex classes simultaneously used the bone pile. More males than females used the bone pile, and males predominated in February, likely because 1/3 of adult females would be denning during this period. On average, bears spent 10 days at the bone pile (median = 5 days); the probability that an individual bear remained at the bone pile from week to week was 63% for females and 45% for males. Most bears in the sample were detected visiting the bone pile once or twice. We found some evidence of matrilineal fidelity to the bone pile, but the group of animals visiting the bone pile did not differ genetically from the Southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation, nor did patterns of relatedness. We demonstrate that bowhead whale bone piles may be an influential food subsidy for polar bears in the Barrow region in autumn and winter for all sex and age classes.
Noren S.R.,University of California at Santa Cruz |
Suydam R.,North Slope Borough
Journal of Experimental Biology | Year: 2016
Little is known about the postnatal development of the physiological characteristics that support breath-hold in cetaceans, despite their need to swim and dive at birth. Arctic species have the additional demand of avoiding entrapment while navigating under sea ice, where breathing holes are patchily distributed and ephemeral. This is the first investigation of the ontogeny of the biochemistry of the locomotor muscle in a year-round Arctic-dwelling cetacean (beluga whale, Delphinapterus leucas). Compared with what we know about other cetaceans, belugas are born with high myoglobin content (1.56±0.02 g 100 g-1 wet muscle mass, N=2) that matures rapidly. Myoglobin increased by 452% during the first year after birth and achieved adult levels (6.91±0.35 g 100 g-1 wet muscle mass, N=9) by 14 months postpartum. Buffering capacity was 48.88±0.69 slykes (N=2) at birth; adult levels (84.31±1.38 slykes, N=9) were also achieved by 14 months postpartum. As the oxygen stores matured, calculated aerobic dive limit more than doubled over the first year of life, undoubtedly facilitating the movements of calves under sea ice. Nonetheless, small body size theoretically continues to constrain the diving ability of newly weaned 2 year olds, as they only had 74% and 69% of the aerobic breath-hold capacity of larger adult female and male counterparts. These assessments enhance our knowledge of the biology of cetaceans and provide insight into age-specific flexibility to alter underwater behaviors, as may be required with the ongoing alterations in the Arctic marine ecosystem associated with climate change and increased anthropogenic activities. © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.