Bering Ecosystem Study 08

What Are They Doing?

A diverse research team aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGS) Healy conducted sampling along a series of transects over the eastern Bering Sea. Research on the ship was multidisciplinary, with scientists using a variety of techniques to document ocean conditions and the productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Research teams measured the temperature, salinity, nutrient content of the sea water, changes in sea ice cover, and the concentration of nutrients used and released by phytoplankton. They also conducted surveys of zooplankton, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals such as walruses and seals, to assess the health of these populations. These measurements gave scientists an indication of the status of the Bering Sea ecosystem and any changes that might affect the use of its resources, and the economic, social and cultural sustainability of the people who depend on it. This was the third cruise in 2008 supported by the National Science Foundation’s Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST), which is part of a scientific effort to understand the Bering Sea. PolarTREC teacher, Jillian Worssam, was also supported by the NOAA Teachers at Sea program to participate in this expedition. Click here to learn more about NOAA their education programs.

Where Are They?

The team traveled on the USCGC Healy in the Bering Sea. The Bering Sea lies to the west of Alaska and to the east of Russia. The team departed from and return to the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the most productive fishing port in the United States.

Expedition Map


Our pond science unit has been amazing, and the first phase is almost completed. We have measured the depth of the pond, and are in the process of converting all our figures to centimeters so that we can make a much reduced scale model. We do though love the scientific method for as we started working with the numbers it became apparent that the length of Francis Short Pond was not the 177 meters which we had recorded. Our pond is no football field, so back to the drawing board, or measuring board. **Construction Phase ** After purchasing our PVC pipe it was time to measure and build...
The work has begun and so far things are looking excellent. The class has completed measuring the depth of Francis Short Pond, with the final stage in this part of our experiment to figure out the area of the little island and remove those dimensions from our final area figures. Next week we hope to make our to scale model out of clay. **Measuring the Pond! ** The boys working hard during the measurement process. Uriel, Kris, Zach and Ivan working as a team in measuring the depth of our backyard ecosystem! We have also been tracking the: pH, Dissolved O2, Nitrates, Phosphates,...
Well, the Triathlon was a bit over a month ago, I have been back in the classroom for almost as long, and feel terribly guilty for taking this many weeks to post my last, but then beginning journal entry. Let me explain:The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY docked in Dutch Harbor, Alaska on July 31st. The next twenty four hours were a frenzy of activity with the unloading of scientific personnel and their equipment. It was also the first opportunity for the crew of the HEALY to get a little well deserved shore time, so people were very active. Up, up and away! The first part of our...
Today is our last day at sea. We are scheduled to arrive at Dutch Harbor tomorrow morning at 09:00, and I am a bit sad. After 27 days I feel a part of a new family and do not think I can ever thank the scientists or the crew of the HEALY enough for the amazing experience they have provided. David has many boxes all getting ready for the trip back to Seattle in ...October I have learned science about the Eastern Bering Sea Shelf, I have learned dynamics about the U.S. Coast Guard. The science leaves me wanting more, to delve a bit deeper into this amazing ecosystem that I know so little...
I was told yesterday that if you want too much, or have expectations too high you will be disappointed.  Well I disagree.  I believe in going full tilt into everything I do, and well, I want to do pretty much everything.   We have two more full days at sea and still I am learning.  Yesterday was busy for me, a 22 hour busy day.  The funny thing is, I slept in until 8:30 am, but didn't go to bed until 6:30 this morning.  MK2 Jeffrey Coombe covered in grease after he emerges from the depths of the engine. It all started with the Webinar and ended with three successive MOCNESS as Alexei...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

30 June 2008 to 2 August 2008
Location: Bering Sea
Project Funded Title: BEST: Bering Ecosystem Study

Meet the Team

Jillian Worssam's picture
Sinagua Middle School
Flagstaff, AZ
United States

Jillian Worssam is fascinated by the diversity of all living and nonliving systems. Due to previous scientific field experience Ms. Worssam founded "Scientists in the Classroom", a national and global mentor program for students and scientists in the field. Each individual student in Ms. Worssam's science classes is paired with their own scientist for an entire academic year, breaking down classroom walls and bringing the world of science to a northern Arizona classroom. Ms. Worssam is also the STEM and oceanography sponsor for her school, showing students in a land-locked state the importance of the Earth's oceanic ecosystems.

When not teaching, Ms. Worssam is an active board member for the Flagstaff Festival of Science, America's longest community science festival celebrating its 25th year in 2014. Ms. Worssam is also the regional leader for the NOAA Climate Stewards program. With nine participating western and pacific states, adult professionals engaged in climate awareness and techniques to disseminate information about climate change Ms. Worssam is the recipient of numerous awards in education including Flagstaff Arizona's first STEM Teacher of the Year and recognized as a Rodel Exemplary Teacher Finalist.

Ray Sambrotto's picture
Columbia University
Palisades, NY
United States

Raymond Sambrotto is the chief scientist on this Bering Sea Ecosystem Study cruise and studies marine plankton ecology and global nutrient cycles. Dr. Sambrotto has worked from small boats in the Caribbean to major oceanographic programs in the Arabian Sea. He has worked extensively at both poles using icebreakers and submarines to traverse these difficult environments. An important part of Dr. Sambrotto’s research is determining how marine populations will fare under changed climate conditions and how these changes will affect the larger global environment.