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.
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.
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.
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.