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Ecological change in the Bering Sea: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy

May 3 – June 6, 2006 | Bering Sea


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Samantha Dassler Barlow
The Oakwood School
Greenville, North Carolina
Lee Cooper
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Science Writer
Patricia Janes
Scholastic, Inc.
Tarrytown , NY

A view of the setting sun seen from on board the
USCGC Healy as it transverses the Arctic Ocean.
Photo by Ute Kaden, Courtesy of ARCUS
Samantha Dassler Barlow and Patty Janes were on board the United States Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Bering Sea working with Lee Cooper and a science party of over 25 scientists, educators, and students studying ecological changes that occur in the northern Bering Sea as seasonal sea ice decreases and the climate warms. Currently a number of large animals such as walruses, gray whales, diving sea ducks, and bearded seals dive to the bottom of this shallow sea to feed on the rich animal life that is present in the bottom sediments. However, there is evidence that fish, which until now have been limited in the northern Bering Sea by cold water temperatures, are moving north and may be starting to compete with these diving animals for the same food in the mud on the bottom. This ship-based research project was determining if fish are increasing in importance and what food they are eating. It also continued past studies of populations of marine invertebrates in the Bering Sea as they respond to changes in environmental conditions.

Teacher Samantha Dassler-Barlow teaches 6th and 7th grade science at The Oakwood School, an independent day school in Greenville, North Carolina. She received her master's and bachelor's degrees in Science Education at East Carolina University where she also teaches undergraduate courses. With a background in geology and science education, Sam has a wide range of scientific interests ranging from astronomy and climatology, to dendrochronology, which is the science of dating events such as environmental change. Sam has a natural curiosity about the diverse cultures and unique environments found in the Arctic, and is enthused by the opportunity to share her arctic experience with others. She hopes her experience will expose students to different science careers and help them to become more “science savvy.” She is happily married with two cats and a garden.

Patricia Janes is the executive editor for Scholastic's Science World, a classroom magazine for students in grades 6–10, and SuperScience magazines, a classroom magazine for students in grades 3–6. In total, these magazines have a combined readership of about a million students. Patty has covered topics ranging from climate change to ice cores to hypothermia. Patty has a deep interest in the Polar Regions and is excited that the TREC experience will enable her to engage in the scientific research process and bring her field experiences into classrooms nationwide and explain science in a way that is digestible to young readers.

Lee Cooper is a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Along with Jackie Grebmeier, Lee’s research focuses on the rich plant and animal life of arctic waters and sediment. He is currently studying the relationship between bottom dwelling organisms and the animals that feed on them and the effects global warming is having on this relationship. Lee has worked with teachers in the past and is looking forward to having both Sam and Patty on the Healy.

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