A diverse team of researchers participated in the first of three research cruises in the spring and summer of 2008, aboard the USCGC Healy in support of the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study (BEST) and the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP).
Scientists on board the ship documented late winter ocean conditions, studying the biological communities found in sea ice, examining the early spring plankton bloom, and investigating light penetration through open water and ice cover. Additionally, researchers examined the benthic communities living on the seafloor as well as observed an important benthic predator, the walrus. The region of the Bering Sea where the team was working is biologically rich and supports highly productive ecological communities of bivalves, gastropods, and polychaetes. These benthic communities have been changing over the past several decades, perhaps as a result of competing fish species moving north as waters warm.
The team traveled on the USCGC Healy to a sampling area in the northern 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, which is in the Aleutian Islands. During the cruise they sampled the biologically diverse waters as they moved northward toward Saint Lawrence Island.
Craig Kasemodel is a science and technology teacher at the Central Middle School of Science in Anchorage, Alaska. Mr. Kasemodel attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Montana State University and holds degrees in Economics, International Relations, and Fish & Wildlife Management, and spent several years conducting wildlife biology research in rural Alaska and Montana. Mr. Kasemodel enjoys teaching other teachers how to incorporate technology in their classrooms and introducing students to science. He is active with the ALISON Project and recently developed a freshwater science class for students to conduct water quality and stream assessments. In his spare time, he enjoys building computers and websites, fly-fishing, hiking, skiing, and spending time outdoors with his wife and chocolate lab. He is excited to be part of PolarTREC and to joined the crew on the Healy with the hope of increasing awareness of climate change and polar science.
Nora Deans is the Senior Outreach Manager for the North Pacific Research Board in Anchorage, Alaska. Nora joined the research team as an observer aboard the USCGC Healy. The North Pacific Research Board provided some funding for Craig Kasemodel to join the expediton.