“Changing Tides” video explores connection between ocean and bears (video)

A newly released video from the Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center, based at Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, investigates the link between ocean health and coastal bears. More significantly, it considers how negative impacts on the ocean might affect this charismatic mammal, and terrestrial life in general. “Changing Tides: The Ocean Connection,” follows researchers in Katmai and Lake Clark national parks as they gather clams, an important food source for Alaska’s coastal bears, and measure their response to stressors such as oil spills and ocean acidification. It also examines the potential impacts of diminished clam populations on bears. On a larger scale, the video highlights the importance of managing impacts to the ocean in maintaining a healthy planet. This is the fourth installment in a series of videos documenting the multi-year Changing Tides research project.

Three additional Changing Tides videos have already been released, each focusing on different components of the research. “Changing Tides: Bear Collaring,” follows a team of researchers in the field as they collar, weigh and collect biological samples from brown bears on the Katmai Coast to determine what they have been eating. In “Changing Tides: Bear Observations,” graduate student Joy Erlenbach spends a summer observing bears to determine the importance of specific foods in their diet and to look for human impacts on their behavior. Finally, “Changing Tides: Clam Lab Work” tackles the bigger question of how coastal ecosystems are changing by studying the health of clams and mussels. Both “Ocean Connection” and “Clam Lab Work” will be screened Thursday, February 15 as part of the Alaska Forum on the Environment Film Festival.

The Changing Tides project began in the spring of 2015. It is a collaborative effort investigating the link between intertidal invertebrates, brown bears and people in Lake Clark and Katmai national parks. Three seasons of field work have been completed and the project is now entering the data-analysis phase. Results of this multi-year effort will be made public as they become available.

Partners in the Changing Tides project include the Southwest Alaska Inventory and Monitoring program of the National Park Service, USGS, Alaska SeaLife Center, and Washington State University. The Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center is a division of the National Park Service based at Kenai Fjords National Park which promotes stewardship of the marine-influenced ecosystems of Alaska’s national parks through education and research.

Jim Pfeiffenberger, Seward City News, 14 February 2018. Article and video .

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