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.
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.
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.
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