Bering Sea Benthic Studies

What Are They Doing?

A diverse research team aboard the icebreaker, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Healy conducted sampling along a series of transects over the eastern Bering Sea. Research on the ship is multidisciplinary, and was part of the Bering Ecosystem Study. The scientists on board used a variety of techniques to measure the productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Measurements included 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 walrus and seal, to assess the health of these populations. These measurements helped give scientists an indication of the status of the Bering Sea ecosystem and any potential changes occurring in the marine environment that might change the continued use of its resources, and the economic, social and cultural sustainability of the people who depend on it.

Where Are They?

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

Expedition Map


Well, it's been three months since I got off the Healy from our spring research cruise.  Sometimes it feels like longer than that!! What have I been doing since the Healy?  First of all, I've been enjoying being back on dry land and spending time with family and friends.  I've also been hard at work analyzing the data that we collected during this spring trip, as well as last years spring trip!  This project is part of my master's degree at Western Washington University, and I'm getting very close (I hope!) to being finished with my degree.  I spent about a month after I got back from our...
Even with science occurring round the clock on Healy, there still has to be time for a little fun.  Scientists and crew alike have been going a little stir crazy around here due to the fact that up until recently we were in open water for almost a week.   This means no ice stations, and very little chances to be outside.  This all changed when, on Sunday we reached the ice again, and Monday we had our first long ice station.  It was a beautiful day for an ice station- the sun was out, there was no wind and it was around 30-35 degrees F outside.  All the scientists set out to work on the ice...
Depth: **175 meters **Temperature: 30 degrees F I first want to mention that during our science personnel exchange, a journalist/scientist joined our crew. Her name is Gaelin Rosenwaks, and she is on board to help out and learn about what every group is doing on board Healy. She is keeping an online blog, and will highlight each research group on board. Since I am busy sampling and helping our group out, I cannot highlight ever other group on board. So, if you are interested in reading about all the other science that goes on, visit Gaelin's page at <a href="http://arctic....
Depth: Less than 50 metersThis is my first journal entry in about week, and I can't say it's because I've been really busy.  It's more because there hasn't been a whole lot happening for our group lately.  In my last journal I mentioned some of the reasons why we might not get good cores- well, this week we've been having trouble coring due to sandy sediment.  Sand is difficult to core, and it's also very difficult to process if we get any cores.  It clogs up the tubes on our radon jars, there isn't much water in the sediment, and most of the cores we get from a sandy site are very short (...
Depth: 50 meters Well, I will reveal the mystery of the cups, as I don't want to keep everyone in suspense TOO long! Due to the amount of air in Styrofoam and the pressure of the water, the cups shrink to a miniature version of themselves. These cups started out at about 12 ounces- think of a *grande *sized cup at Starbucks- and ended up being only a couple ounces. The cool part is that everything shrinks- so all the decorations we put on them shrink as well. It's pretty neat to see! I'd like to talk a little bit more about what our team does on the Healy, and why we are here in the...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

27 March 2008 to 6 May 2008
Location: Bering Sea
Project Funded Title: BEST: Denitrification and global change in Bering Sea shelf sediments

Meet the Team

Emily Davenport's picture
Western Washington University

Emily Davenport, a first year graduate student in the Environmental Science Department at Western Washington University, also participated in the research cruise to conduct her thesis research on benthic communities, nutrient cycling, and climate change. At the time, she was a participant in a program funded by the National Science Foundation that places graduate students around the country in middle school science classrooms to improve science education. Ms. Davenport worked with sixth grade students at Nooksack Valley Middle School in Everson, WA and utilized the PolarTREC Virtual Base Camp to interact with students while on the cruise.

David Shull's picture
University of Washington

David Shull, an Assistant Professor at Western Washington University, studies invertebrate communities in estuaries and continental shelf sediments. He is particularly interested in the roles that benthic organisms play in the function of coastal ecosystems.