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Cold Waters


Vessels | Victoria, British Columbia to Alaska | Aleutian Islands, Alaska | Little Diomede Island, Alaska | The Yukon, Canada | Sachs Harbor/Ikaahuk, Northwest Territories | Holman/Uluqsaqtuuq, Victoria Island | Coppermine / Kugluktuk, Nunavut | Cambridge Bay/ Ikaluktutiak, Nunavut | Gjoa Haven/ Ursuqtuuq | Spence Bay/Taloyoak, Northwest Territories | Arctic Circle Crossing Initiation | Excursion onto the Ice | Laurier 2000 Photo Album | Saint Lawrence Island Polynya Project 2001 | SLIPP 2001 Photo Album | The Arctic Rose Tragedy
Saint Lawrence Island Polynya Project 2001

A Biological Oceanographic Expedition to the Bering Sea on board the USCG Polar Star

Please visit the United States Coast Guard's website for ship specifications and additional information.


Above: The USCG Polar Star (WAGB-10), Bering Sea 2001. The Polar Star is a 399-foot icebreaker designed for missions to the Arctic and the Antarctic. It carries 2 HH-65 Dolphin Helicopters, 160 crew, and up to 20 scientists. It is one of the world's most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers. (Photo by J. Bump)

Science on board the USCG Polar Star



Navy and Coast Guard divers participating in under-ice dive operations. During the practice, they also collected video footage and biological samples for the scientists.
The best of both worlds: Dive equipment, including dry suits and voice-activated helmets, was valued in the thousands of dollars for each diver. Science samples were collected with a butterfly net and a Skippy peanut butter jar. The platform to lower the divers onto the ice was nicknamed the polar bear appetizer tray by onlookers (Photos by J. Bump)


Dr. Jackie Grebmeier, one of the primary investigators of SLIPP '01, conducting onboard chamber respiration experiments in the lab. (Photo by J. Bump)


Above: Overhead view of Conductivity-Temperature-Density (CTD)rosette being prepared for deployment. (Photo by J. Bump)


Above: Van Veen being deployed into the water. Heavy ice cover required the ship to maneuver in order to break open pockets of open water to lower the apparatus through. Much easier said than done. (Photo by J. Bump)


Above: Zooplankton net being deployed into water to collect animals that live in the water column, moved by the currents. (Photo by J. Bump)


Above: Zooplankton caught by plankton tow. Many of the euphasiids (krill) are bioluminescent (glow in the dark). Krill feed mainly on algae growing on the bottom surface of the ice pack. Baleen whales (like the blue whale) subsist on these krill to survive, straining them out of the water with sieve-like baleen plates.
Higher global temperatures lead to less ice cover, which leads to less algae available for grazing. This allows less krill to survive, which subsequently leads to the survival of fewer whales. (Photo by J. Bump)


Above: Dredge being prepared for deployment. It scrapes along the bottom and collects animals living on the surface of the sediment (epifauna) and animals living in the sediment itself (infauna). (Photo by J. Bump)


Above: Container of organisms collected by the dredge. The sediment has already been rinsed off. (Photo by J. Bump)


Above: A brightly colored male Spectacled Eider diving sea duck. One of the missions of SLIPP '01 was to study the wintering grounds of this endangered bird. It dives to the bottom of the shallow Bering Sea water to feed on clams. Not only does the Spectacled Eider retain high levels of poisonous metals in its body tissues from lead shot at its Alaskan land-based nesting grounds, but the clam food source is changing in species composition and abundance. Dr. Jackie Grebmeier and Dr. Lee Cooper are working with co-Primary Investigator Dr. Jim Lovvorn of the University of Wyoming, in order to study this problem. (Photo by J. Lovvorn)


Please visit the UT Arctic web page to view incredible movie clips of these helicopter eider surveys!

Above: Hundreds of thousands of Spectacled Eiders resting in an ice lead. The entire world population of these birds are theorized to overwinter in the Saint Lawrence Island Polynya region (a phenomenon only recently discovered by one radio-collar momentarily blinking on after many months of silence, allowing scientists to trace it to SLIP, after all of the other radio-collars placed on eiders had disappeared from satellite tracking), but it is difficult to include Russian estimates, since U.S. scientists have not yet been allowed to survey the Russian coastline bird populations. (Photo by J. Lovvorn)