According to Jewett, the scientists are reasonably sure that the kelp is a new species, but more work is being done to confirm that the sea anemone species are completely new to science. Correspondence with anemone experts has so far shown the anemones to be new species, but the analysis is ongoing.
During both years, the chief scientist on the project was Douglas Dasher, a water quality expert from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The scientific team operated from the R/V NORSEMAN, a 108-foot vessel originally designed for crab fishing in the Bering Sea.
The dives were part of a broad health assessment of the Aleutian Islands and were sponsored by the Alaska Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, also referred to as AKMAP. The program is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and managed through a joint agreement between the ADEC and UAF.
Samples from the dives are being used to catalog biodiversity in the region, assess water quality and potential contaminants. According to Jewett, this is the first time the remote nearshore region of the Aleutian Chain has undergone an in-depth marine assessment.
The rugged and remote islands of the Aleutians are not immune to the reach of human activity, say scientists leading the expedition.
"Pollutants traveling through air and water pathways from temperate latitudes have been showing up in the area," says Jewett. "Debris and spills from World War II in the Aleutians have left their mark behind in unexploded ordinance and local sources of pollutants."
Scientists on the project are using water and tissue samples collected during the dives to gauge the impacts of human activity in the area. Samples are being tested for nutrient and oxygen levels in the wate
|Contact: Carin Bailey|
University of Alaska Fairbanks