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, as part of the Bering Ecosystem Study, with scientists using a variety of techniques to measure the productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem. Research teams measured the temperature, salinity and 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 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. Click here to go to the Bering Sea Ice Expedition webpage.

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 returned to the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the most productive fishing port in the United States.

Expedition Map

Bering Sea
Project Funded Title
BEST: Bering Ecosystem Study aboard the USCGC Healy in the Bering Sea
Maggie Prevenas - Teacher
Kalama Intermediate School

Maggie Prevenas teaches seventh grade science at Kalama Intermediate School on the island of Maui, Hawaii. She has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught science and computer technology in Wisconsin, Oregon, and Hawaii. A recent National Board Certified teacher, Ms. Prevenas traveled to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2005 and continues to develop creative educational materials related to her experience. Ms. Prevenas was participating in the BEST cruise as a joint PolarTREC and NOAA Teacher at Sea teacher.

Robyn Sweet - Earth/Life Science Coordinator
Earth/Life Science Coordinator
Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Robyn Sweet is the Earth and Life Sciences Coordinator at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Marine Biology with a Chemistry minor. Ms. Staup taught high school science for seven years in Charlotte, North Carolina and coached teams for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl Competition before moving to Ohio. She has been a participant and leader in several science education activities and appreciated the opportunity to share her PolarTREC experience with others.

Emily Davenport - Graduate Student
Graduate Student
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.

Ray Sambrotto - Researcher
Columbia University

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.

Latest Journals

It's one small ocean out there. I am determined to keep on learning more and more about it. Exactly one week ago, I was on a one day mission on the Robert C. Seamans, a tall ship whose mission is to teach sailing and science. CMORE-Hawaii (The Center for Microbial Oceanography Research and…
Last night was the weekly Science Club meeting. I have a loyal group of about 10 students who are willing to give up sitting in front of a TV, or listening to their music player to spend two hours learning more about science. I don't think I'd want too many more, their questions are so numerous…
Being a subsistance people, the Inupiat rely on the animals from their environment for food. I don't want to mislead the general public to think that skin boats and ivory harpoons are used to hunt whales in the Arctic. Whaling and other subsistance hunting have incorporated modern technology.…
The experience of a lifetime is one of the first things I tell anyone about my adventure in the Arctic. My life has been changing for over a year. I moved from North Carolina and left the formal education classroom to pursue a career as an informal educator at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in…
I have been a teacher for a long time, long enough to know some teaching strategies that work. When you have to teach others about what you know, you truly learn. So my science club kids are learning all about the Bering Sea and the research done onboard the Healy during the Spring of 2007. They…
Living on an island in the middle of the ocean has it's ups and downs. So does being an indigenous people. One of the reasons I wanted to be a part of PolarTREC so badly, was that I wanted my students to learn about other cultures who experience their same lifestyle. My wish came through when I…

Bering Ecosystem Study Resources


Students will engage in a hands-on activity to help them consider what students in a tropical climate do to prepare for recess compared with students who live in the interior of Alaska.


Students will:

Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Through activities, video observation, experimentation and the construction of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) students will learn about the chemical and physical properties of sea ice.

More than a week
All Aged
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The title of this lesson, 'Ssssno Seals' is a play on words. Will the ice seals survive? Yes or No? Paul Lukosi is a high school teacher in the lower Yukon River Delta, 6 miles from the Bering Sea...as the slough goes. The village he teaches in is heavily focused on family and culture, and has survived for thousands of years by subsistence living.

More than a week
High school and Up
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Nature creates its own density column in marine systems, which is extremely important for the triggering of the spring bloom of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are an important food source for all organisms- from microscopic zooplankton to large marine mammals such as walrus and whales.

Less than a week
Middle School and Up
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Students will sing a song about guano's role in the ecosystem and the movement of energy and matter through the food chain.


Students will learn how energy and matter move and change in an ecosystem and how living things and matter interact.

Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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