Our illustrious leader, Paul Stewart recently returned from a trip of a lifetime. He and his wife Michele, leisurely travelled cross country on their way to help out with the Pacific Nearshore Project in Alaska.
There trip took them via Sault Ste. Marie. They sailed on the Goulais River, travelled north of Lake Superior and eventually into Minnesota. They saw moose, beavers and jumping trout.
South Dakota brought sightings of bison, antelope, Red Tailed hawk and hares in the Badlands.
and Glacier National Park in Montana. Back up in Canada, at Waterton Lakes it was a herd of mountain sheep in the town centre, bald eagles in Crowsnest Pass and a male grouse while camping in Kootenay National Park.
At some point they got on the ferry to Alaska where the real adventure began.
Paul’s brother-in-law, Tim Tinker, heads the USGS sea otter research program out of U of C Santa Cruz. His students and colleagues run a number of data collection programs throughout the year including the Pacific Nearshore Project.
Pacific Nearshore Project
The research endeavor has teamed Canadian and U.S. researchers together to investigate the health of our Pacific near-shore ecosystem and one of its most recognizable organisms — the sea otter.
Sea otters are crucial indicators of the health of our nearshore waters and coastal resources, from kelp forests to fisheries. A serious decline to the sea otters has researchers searching for clues that will shed some light on our knowledge of our ecosystem and global change.
Michele and Paul worked as volunteers on the project, helping with feeding (foraging) observations, “We watched an individual otter for 20 dives, tracking the time and total food and food types that it consumed during that period. We also dug up samples, .25 cubic meters, of low tide shore to see what typical concentration of food (clams, mussels, crabs, snails and sea urchins) was to be found in them.”
More images of the trip can be seen on our Facebook page – as more photos come in we will post them there.
The Pacific Nearshore Project is a multinational, multiagency project investigating sea otters as health indicators of coastal waters and marine resources from California north through Canada and Alaska. The project is led by the U.S. Geological Survey with key research partners from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Seattle Aquarium, University of California, University of Idaho, University of Wyoming and California Department of Fish and Game. For a full list of sponsoring agencies, research blogposts, otter photos, please visit the project homepage at http://on.doi.gov/nearshore
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