Arctic Wildlife


From bowhead whales to walruses to lemmings, nothing captures the imagination and attention of people more than Arctic wildlife.  Here residents and observers of the Arctic discuss and show the remarkable beauty and precious, fragile nature of life in the Arctic.

 

Wildlife

(click on a person to see their bio and a list of their videos)

 

Dr. George Divoky

Seabird Biologist studying in Arctic Alaska since 1970

Geoff York

Arctic Program Polar Bear Coordinator for World Wildlife Fund, Anchorage, AK

Mike Lockhart

Field Biologist with ten years experience capturing polar bears on the Southern Beaufort Sea.

 

 

Eugene Brower

President of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association

Geoff Carroll

Area Wildlife Biologist, Alaska Fish and Game, North Slope

Dr. Steve Amstrup

Polar Bear expert, Research Wildlife Biologist, US Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK

 

Dr. Cheryl Rosa

Polar Research Biologist and Wildlife Veterinarian, North Slope Borough, Dept. of Wildlife Management, Barrow, AK

Dr. Craig George

Senior Wildlife Biologist, North Slope Borough, Dept. of Wildlife Management, Barrow, AK: Bowhead Whales

 

Dr. Lily Peacock

Research biologist for the US Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK.  Lily has studied Polar Bears in Canada where they are still harvested by native peoples.
 

 

 

Dr. George Divoky

Seabird Biologist

Dr George Divoky has been studying seabirds in arctic Alaska since 1970 and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is the founder of Friends of Cooper Island, a nonprofit scientific/education organization that maintains the long-term study of seabirds on Cooper Island and preserves and distributes Cooper Island data for use by current and future researchers studying climate change and other Arctic phenomena. Divoky also has an active outreach program speaking to conservation organizations and school groups.

Studying the Black Guillemots of Cooper Island has largely been a solitary venture for George. While the discovery and initial years of the study were part of governmental research related to oil development in northern Alaska, for the past two decades the work has been conducted with occasional grants and personal dedication.

Divoky’s research on Cooper Island was featured in a January 6, 2002 cover story in the New York Times Magazine entitled “George Divoky’s Planet," written by Darcy Frey.

 

Meet Arctic Seabird Biologist George Divoky who has been studying a certain bird species for 35 years.

Divoky conducts annual observations of Black Guillemots breeding on Cooper Island in the Arctic Ocean, 20 miles east of Point Barrow, Alaska.  He stays on the wind-swept island every summer for the full breeding season of 100 days. His long-term study has allowed him to make startling observations about climate change.

Date of Egg Laying changes in response to Climate Change

Working on Coopers Island all summer for more than 3 decades, Divoky talks about the tolerance of the Guillemots, about the energy he gets from the Midnight Sun, and how decades of research on these Arctic seabirds has led to surprising findings about global warming.

Polar Bears invade Coopers Island as the summer ice pack retreats looking for food.

George talks about how he prepares for a summer on the island, connecting with local Inupiats and scientists, who have become his friends. He also talks about how hard it is for the Guillemots to feed their young with the pack ice so far away.

 

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A Few Photos from Cooper Island

                         

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Dr. Steven C. Amstrup

Research Wildlfie Biologist, Polar Bears

 

Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, Polar Bear Scientist, talks about the state of polar bear research and relates that to climate change and how polar nations are working together to share information.  Dr. Amstrup is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.  He led the international team of researchers which prepared 9 reports that became the basis for the recent decision, by the Secretary of Interior, to list polar bears as a threatened species.

 

Polar Bears & Climate Change

Alaska's foremost polar bear expert talks about the effect of the retreating ice on bears

Polar Bears & Loss of Habitat

The single biggest threat to polar bears is decline to their habitat that's likely to occur because of Global Warming

Polar Bears and the Future

Research Wildlife Biologist, Alaska Science Center, USGS, Anchorage, Alaska. Dr. Amstrup talks about Polar Bear science and managing bears as the pole warms up and the ice retreats.

 

 

Studying Polar Bears

Dr. Amstrup takes some time out in his office on the campus of the University of Alaska in Anchorage to talk about how polar bear research has moved from questions of hunting bears to climate change.

Research on Polar Bears in the Polar Nations

Polar bear researchers from polar nations share information and resources

Field Work

Dr. Steven Amstrup of Anchorage, Alaska, talks about field work--Tagging, analyzing data, working with other polar nations

 

 

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 The Polar Bear Scientist

 

 

 

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Geoff York

Arctic Program's polar bear expert for World Wildlife Fund

Geoff York recently joined WWF as the Arctic Program’s polar bear expert. He is based in the WWF Alaska field office in downtown Anchorage, working closely with the Kamchatka/Bering Sea team as well as with the broader WWF team throughout the circumpolar Arctic. Geoff has lived in Alaska since 1990 when he came north to pursue a Masters degree in science/biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has 12 years of field experience in the Arctic, most recently as a Biologist and Program Manager for the U.S. Geological Survey's Polar Bear Project, the leading polar bear research team in the US (see Amstrup above). His work included leading field efforts in the capture and handling of 100s of bears, tagging them, collecting a variety of biological samples to assess disease and health related parameters, and collaring a few adult females with radio telemetry devices to tracking the bears’ movements on sea ice.

 

The Arctic & Bringing Science to non-scientists

Geoff York talks about his passion for the Arctic and what he hopes accomplish at the WWF.

Geoff talks about Polar Bear capture work

The work can be dangerous and exciting

 

 

Polar Bear Encounter

Geoff has a close encounter with a bear in a den

 

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Mike Lockhart

Field Biologist

 

Mike Lockhart has provided field assistance on polar bear research projects for the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 2001.  He has extensive experience with wildlife survey, capture, and telemetry techniques which have been put to use in polar bear field studies.   Mike has an M.S. in Biology and has worked in wildlife conservation since 1975.  He retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 after 33 years with that agency, but continues to work actively as a consultant and field biologist.  During his tenure with FWS, Mike conducted and/or participated in a host of research projects on birds of prey, carnivores and ungulates; investigated energy development, contaminant, and oil spill effects on wildlife and developed management responses; helped establish a new National Wildlife Refuge near Denver, Colorado;  assisted with regulation development and management of the Federal subsistence program in Alaska; and, finally, served as the Species Coordinator for the Service’s endangered black-footed ferret recovery program.   Mike now lives in Laramie, Wyoming.

Three of the following interview clips contain spectacular photos that Mike has taken during nine field seasons in the Arctic

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered what it's like to work with polar bears in the Arctic? The following report by biologist Mike Lockhart offers a window into the daily routines—and challenges—of a PBI field researcher working in one of the harshest environments on Earth.

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Dr. Cheryl Rosa

Research Biologist & Wildlife Veterinarian

Dr. Cheryl Rosa is Deputy Director and Anchorage-based Alaska Director of the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC).  She helps the seven-member, presidentially appointed Commission in its efforts to strengthen Arctic research and ties to the State of Alaska and international partners.  Dr. Rosa, a Research Biologist and Wildlife Veterinarian for the North Slope Borough (NSB) Department of Wildlife Management in Barrow, Alaska, received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University and a Doctorate in Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Dr. Rosa has been active on the North Slope in a wide range of studies, including wildlife health and zoonotic disease, marine mammal stranding response, subsistence food safety and oil spill/offshore discharge research. She is a member of the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee, the Science Advisory Panel of the North Pacific Research Board and the Polar Bear Technical Committee (past). Dr. Rosa has worked and lived in the Arctic for almost a decade.

 

 

Cheryl Rosa #1

Cheryl talks about coming to Barrow to work and live.

Cheryl Rosa #2

Cheryl talks about her job as a wildlife vet and the time she went out on her first whale

 

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Inupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower

 

Inupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower, in Barrow, Alaska, is a whaling captain like his father before him.  Here he tells some amazing stories about wildlife he's observed when out on the ice, one about a rogue walrus, an amazing polar bear, a white whale and a whale that showed him and his crew just who is boss.

 

Amazing Bowhead Whale Stories

Iñupiaq elder, whaling captain, and President of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association, Eugene Brower tells some amazing stories about bowhead whales that he has witnessed when out hunting in the Chukchi Sea, off Barrow, Alaska. 

Amazing Story of a Polar Bear on the Ice

Iñupiaq elder and whaling captain Eugene Brower from Barrow, Alaska, tells an amazing polar bear story, something he saw with his father, Harry Brower, Sr. (1924-1992), out on the ice. 

Story of a White Whale

Iff the coast of Barrow, Alaska, in the Chukchi Sea, whaling captain Eugene Brower has seen one white whale, and he's seen it multiple times. He knows it by its markings..

 

 

The Story of a Rogue Walrus

Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower talks about confronting a massive rogue walrus out on the ice while hunting whales, Barrow, Alaska.
 

The Whaling Camp & What the Whales know and see

Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower talks about whaling camp and what the whales see and know and how the whalers must learn to keep quiet and undetected if there is to be a successful hunt.

 

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Geoff Carroll

Area Wildlife Biologist, Alaska Department of Fish & Game

Geoff Carroll, Area Wildlife Biologist for Alaska's Department of Fish and Game, who looks after the animals in a 56,000 sq mile region on the North Slope, talks about his early work with on the bowhead whale census.  He also tells a few tales about polar bears and muskox.

 

 

Moving to the Arctic & a Bowhead Whale Census

Wildlife biologist Geoff Carroll in Barrow, Alaska, talks about the extirpation and reintroduction of muskox on the North Slope.

Geoff's Polar Bear Story

Geoff Carroll tells the story of an early morning polar bear in a whale census tent out on the ice.

Area Wildlife Biologist

Geoff Carroll, Area Wildlife Biologist for Alaska's Department of Fish and Game, talks about his job looking after all the animals, especially caribou, in a 56,000 sq mile region.

 

 

Muskox on the North Slope

Wildlife biologist Geoff Carroll in Barrow, Alaska, talks about the extirpation and reintroduction of muskox on the North Slope.

 

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Dr. John C. "Craig" George

Senior Wildlife Biologist (Bowhead Whales)

Department of Wildlife Management

North Slope Borough, Barrow, Alaska

Craig George has worked as a Wildlife Biologist with the North Slope Department of Wildlife Management in Barrow, Alaska for 25 years.  Craig earned a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the Utah State University in 1976 and recently completed his Ph.D. in bowhead whale energetics, age estimation and morphology (comprehensive exams 2001).  Beginning in 1982, Craig worked on and later coordinated the bowhead whale ice-based population assessment project on the sea ice near Point Barrow for nearly two decades.   He also has conducted many postmortem exams on bowheads harvested by Alaskan Eskimos (since 1980) and published a number of papers on this work ranging from evidence of killer whale predation to structural anatomy to population biology. Craig has attended IWC meetings since 1987 focusing mainly on aboriginal whaling management procedures and assessments and population estimation. He has also participated in Eskimo traditional knowledge studies on the North Slope. Craig has lived in Barrow since 1977 and is married to Cyd Hanns, a wildlife technician. Together they enjoy community and outdoor activities with their two sons Luke and Sam.

 

 

Meet John Craighead (Craig) George, an Arctic Whale Scientist who studies bowhead whales

Craig , is now Senior Wildlife Biologist for the North Slope Borough.  Here he talks about how he came to Barrow in 1977 and then to his bowhead whale research and the bowhead census that helped him and other researchers quantify the bowhead population in the Arctic

More about the whale census that has helped researchers verify what the Inupiat have said all along: that the bowhead population is increasing.

Craig talks about adopting the Eskimo techniques for safety on the ice during the whale census. Here he talks about polar bears in camp out on the ice and other difficulties....

Craig talks about the beauty of the sea ice and the amazing bowhead whale, also about the Eskimo culture that revolves around the whale and the whale harvest

The bowhead is one of the most unusual mammals, with so many unique and extraordinary characteristics, its massive size (up to 60 feet with some reports up to 80 feet), has the thickest blubber of any whale, the longest baleen, some plates reaching 15 feet. They have the largest head in the animal kingdom in proportion to their body, a third of their body size. They may also live 150 years or more

 

What was it like to raise a family in Barrow, Alaska?

Craig talks about the uniqueness of raising a family in the high Arctic with its vibrant whaling culture, dog mushing, good friends. His two sons, Luke and Sam, got to take part in Eskimo festivals; they ran rivers and hunted and fished in pristine places; polar bears wandered through town. Perhaps it was an America that has been lost to many.

Big changes in the Arctic between 1977 and today--a warming trend.  Bowheads seem to be doing okay with the ice retreat and the Inupiat are an adaptable people

Craig talks about the incredible changes he's seen in the decades since he got to Barrow: the retreat of the ice pack in the summer, the warmer winters. September never used to be an open-water month. Craig is aware of warming periods over the last 10,000 years, but if the predictions are correct, it might not swing back this time because there is a definite human factor in this recent warming trend.

 

 

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Lily Peacock

Research Wildlife Biologist

Lily Peacock is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.  She specializes in population ecology, harvest management, ecological genetics, polar bear conservation.

USGS Anchorage, AK

 

 

Meet Lily Peacock

Lily Peacock, research biologist studying polar bears for the US Geological Survey in Anchorage, AK. Lily has worked on Polar Bear Management in remote areas on Baffin Island in the Territory of Nunavut

Population Ecology of Polar Bears

talks about mark and capture population ecology techniques in polar bear science conducted in Canada

Polar Bears in Different Parts of the Arctic

Lily talks about what's happening with the 20-25,000 polar bears in different parts of the Arctic in different seasons

 

 

Climate Change & the Native Harvest of Bears in Canada

Lily italks about climate change & the native harvest of Polar Bears in Canada

How Dr. Lily Peacock came to study Polar Bears in the Arctic

Lily came to the Arctic in a roundabout way.  Amazing story of how she ended up capturing polar bears.

 

Bio in University of Alaska, Anchorage, Green & Gold News

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