Gratitude for Supporters

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Gratitude for Supporters

elsa

Elsa Sebastian recently joined the AWF board of directors after several years of part-time work with the organization. A captain, commercial fisherman, lifelong Alaskan and environmentalist – Elsa is eager to continue to contribute to AWF as a volunteer. 


The spouts of humpback whales that have forgone winter migration to Hawaii catch the light on a cold December afternoon. Photo taken in Sitka Alaska by Zaide Allen. 

The spouts of humpback whales that have forgone winter migration to Hawaii catch the light on a cold December afternoon. Photo taken in Sitka Alaska by Zaide Allen. 

Here in the north, the brooding darkness of the winter solstice is cause for celebration. Last week in Sitka Alaska a few members of the AWF team gathered  to toast the gradual return of light that will eventually grow into 18-hours of glorious daylight. As we updated each other on plans for the 2017 field season it became clear that the AWF research team will make good use of those long hours! Here are just a few of the projects we're looking forward to: 

  • AWF biologist Michelle Fournet will lead playback studies to understand how ship noise might interfere with the acoustic dialogue between humpback whales.
  • A pilot study examines the behavior of humpbacks as high-speed cruise ships transit through their favored foraging habitat.
  • Our field station will host more researchers than ever, including Dr. Kitty Labounty (University of Alaska) who will establish a seasonality component to our songbird habitat program --one approach to monitor the impact of climate change on migratory birds. 
Mist lingers in the trees behind AWFs research station. Photo by Steven Morello. 

Mist lingers in the trees behind AWFs research station. Photo by Steven Morello. 

These quiet winter days also provide ample time for reflection and thanks. We are enthusiastic about what's to come, but the AWF team is also looking back at the year with gratitude for all that our supporters contributed to make 2016 a wonderfully productive field season. 

Much of AWF’s work is funded by individuals who visit Alaska and find themselves personally connected to our research through either visiting our remote field station or hearing presentations from AWF biologists. We receive donations of all sizes, and every one is gratefully received. I can speak for this appreciation personally. I was born and raised in Southeast Alaska, and I've spent my life coming to know the wildness, mystery and biological intrigue of this place. It's unparalleled and it demands conservation. Your gifts to AWF are evidence of our shared sense of awe and commitment. Thank you for standing with wildness, whales, and the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Photo by Steven Morello. 

Photo by Steven Morello. 

Over the next two years, we will need to raise $150,000 to finalize the purchase of the field station and to convert from diesel to environmentally-responsible solar power. There are still several days left in 2016 to support this effort with a tax-deductible donation. Donate online through paypal, or send a check to PO Box 1927/Petersburg AK/99833

Happy holidays to all! Thanks for everything that you do to support AWF. 

 

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Welcome to our Summer Field Team!

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Welcome to our Summer Field Team!

DANA

Dana is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She spends most of the year bundled up against the Canadian winter, and frequently escapes to the mountains to go cross-country skiing, canoeing, and hiking.  

She just graduated from a Bachelors in Ecology at the University of Calgary. Her honours project was on the spread of an invasive diatom in Alberta’s lakes. She spent last summer as a research assistant in a freshwater ecology lab, catching fish in the Bow River to study their stress hormones.

While the streams and lakes near Calgary are beautiful, Dana’s real interest is the ocean. To get marine experience while studying at a land-locked university, Dana ventured west to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre on Vancouver Island. In Bamfield Dana became even more excited about the ocean and marine conservation.

Dana feels so lucky to be joining AWF this summer. She is looking forward to exploring the Alaskan wilderness, being part of an amazing organization, and spending quality time with her favourite animal – the humpback whale.

 MAEVE

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Maeve is from Ireland and has an undergraduate degree in Physiology and a MSc in Marine Biology.

For Maeve’s graduate research project, she traveled to Penang, Malaysia for three months to undertake research with WorldFish in genetics and behavioral studies. Her thesis paper was on Social hierarchy in Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus: genetic influences and association of sclera color. Her research experience also includes being part of a team at the University of Florida, involved in research on neuroplasticity in the brain and spinal cord and its influence on the control of breathing.

Maeve has a keen interest in photography, and looks forward to strengthening her skills while in Warm Springs Bay, and hopes to integrate photography into her future research as a way to help bridge the gap between research and the public. What better way to educate people about these magnificent mammals than with a snapshot of their world!

Future research goals that Maeve hopes to pursue would be to compare physiology between large marine mammal species, and to gain a better understanding of human impacts and influences on mammalian behavior. 

DAVIDE

Davide is from Italy and he graduated in Biology at the University of Genoa at the beginning of June. He has had a passion for cetaceans since he was a child and he wants to continue his studies in that direction looking for a Master program in Marine Biology abroad.

He has already done some field experience with cetaceans: the first one in the Ligurian Sea (Italy) in the “Pelagos Sanctuary” with the Tethys Research Institute and Genoa University where he participated on boat-based surveys on a whale watching boat collecting different of all the species that are found in that area (fin whale, sperm whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, pilot whale, and bottlenose, striped, Risso's and common dolphin). The subject of Davide's thesis is a geostatistical approach to identifying potential hotspots for cetacean conservation, a study of abundance, habitat use and the ecology pattern of fin whales and sperm whales in the Ligurian Sea from 2003 to 2014, based on boat surveys.
His second internship was in Spain, at the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute, where he participated in a lot of projects and activities and spending most of the time working with Photo-id of bottlenose dolphins both on boat and in the lab.

Davide is very excited to come to Alaska both to increase his knowledge and work about marine mammals and also to share a wonderful experience with AWF’s research team.

 

MARGERITA

Margerita has a great passion for nature conservation and wildlife and is delighted to be offered the opportunity to carry out research and implement wildlife monitoring in Alaska. She was born and raised in Germany and completed her BSc in Wildlife Management in The Netherlands. Up until now, she has been mainly involved in terrestrial research projects, which include, amongst others, the interplay between ticks, tick-borne diseases and wildlife, as well as population estimates of large herbivores in Sweden, feral cat behavior based ontri-axial accelerometers on the Dutch island Schiermonnikoog and the distribution of Lepidoptera species and flowering plants in South Africa. Margerita has always wanted to visit Alaska and experience the wilderness of a seemingly untouched nature. Therefore, she is really excited to be able to contribute and support AWF’s research team and projects and is especially looking forward to gaining insights into marine mammal related research at the Center for Coastal Conservation.

 

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