Notes from the NGA

Volume 1, Number 2
March 2023

Welcome to Notes from the NGA 
Photo credit: Nicole Webster


NEW! NGA Science Nuggets 

In an effort increase our science communication, we will be kicking off NGA Science Nuggets! Every other month, we'll invite several NGA members to share their science. We plan for these to be informal 10-15 minute presentations with time for discussion.

The first of our series will be Friday, April 7 at 11:30 AK, 12:30 Pacific. Suzanne Strom will share the latest on mixotrophy, and Emily Ortega will present her most recent insights on iron in the NGA. Stay tuned for information on our third presenter. 

We will be hosting these lunchtime discussions on Fridays; mark your calendars for April 7June 2, August 4, October 6 and December 1. If you would like to volunteer for one of these dates, please let Kerri know. Keep an eye on your inbox - we'll be emailing out presenter requests and Zoom invite information.

We hope to see you on April 7! 

Activities and Accomplishments

Student Highlights

The NGA LTER program is thrilled to announce two student poster award winners at the 2023 Alaska Marine Science Symposium! UAF students Megan Brauner and Emily Stidham were both awarded for their presentations. Megan presented her poster titled “Co-occurrence networks of marine microbes in the Northern Gulf of Alaska”, while Emily presented “Two decades of observations on pelagic tunicates and pelagic snails in the Northern Gulf of Alaska (NGA)”. Megan is a student in Gwenn Hennon’s lab, and Emily is a student of Russ Hopcroft’s. We are proud of all of our students and their contributions!

Isaac Reister (Danielson’s lab, UAF) is our newest PhD candidate. Congratulations, Isaac!

Well done Megan, Emily and Issac! Left: Megan sampling the CTD on an unusually calm summer day in the Gulf of Alaska. Right: Emily and Isaac pause after giving 110% on a fall Tiglax cruise.

New Funding 

Two synthesis proposals have been funded that both have NGA involvement. The first is a SPARC proposal, funding a single meeting this summer with involvement from pelagic, coastal and terrestrial sites (Suzanne Strom, NGA lead):

Response of Primary Producers and Primary Consumers to Environmental Change: from small-scale disturbances to seasonal and long-term changes.

The other is a full proposal, involving several meetings over two years, with involvement from the four pelagic sites (NGA, CCE, PAL, NESRuss Hopcroft, NGA lead):

Consumer-mediated nutrient dynamics of marine ecosystems under the wake of global change.


Proposal Submissions

The NGA LTER is one of the sites included in the recently submitted NSF proposal "RaMP: Long Term Networked Ecological Research for the Future (LT-NERF)". The proposal targets post-baccalaureate environmental biologists who have had few or no undergraduate research opportunities, and extends the benefits of the LTER Network to them. If successful, ten mentees per year (over three years) will have the opportunity to develop research under one of three ecological themes, each guided by two mentors at up to 18 of the network's sites. Our participation will promote further synthesis with other sites, enhance our education activities, and provide another opportunity to increase diversity...stay tuned for the outcome of this exciting proposal.

The NGA LTER Phase 2 proposal, “Resilience and Connectivity Across Transitions in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem”, was submitted on March 2nd! This proposal outlines continuing the NGA program through 2028. Thanks to everyone for their hard work on the proposal (pdf link to core proposal).



We have two new NGA LTER publications to spotlight! The first was written by Suzanne Strom for the ocean observing supplement for Oceanography magazine: 

Strom, S., and the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecosystem Research Team. 2023. Recent marine heatwaves affect marine ecosystems from plankton to seabirds in the northern Gulf of Alaska. In Frontiers in Ocean Observing: Emerging Technologies for Understanding and Managing a Changing Ocean. Oceanography 36 (Supplement 1)

Dan Cushing is the lead author on an article in Marine Ecology Progress Series, focusing on seabirds along the Seward Line:

Cushing DA, Kuletz KJ, Sousa L, Day RH, Danielson SL, Labunski EA, Hopcroft RR (2023) Differential response of seabird species to warm- and cold-water events in a heterogeneous cross-shelf environment in the Gulf of Alaska. Mar Ecol Prog Ser :HEATav2.


Figure 1. from Strom et al., 2023.

Gliders in the Gulf

The glider known as "Shackleton" was deployed by R/V Nanuq on a windy day in Resurrection Bay on February 15, started swimming offshore from GAK1 on February 22, and arrived at the GEO mooring site on March 1. The glider is equipped with sensors: CTD, PAR, O2, Chl-a and optical backscatter. It also has a fish tag detector, which heard from two sleeper sharks that were tagged four years ago in 2019. We will pick up the glider at the mooring site on the spring Sikuliaq cruise.

Another glider will be deployed next week, and will transit all the way out to GAK15. 

Here's a link to the data sent from Shackleton from out at the GEO mooring site, and another link to data that includes a graphical user interface.

Shackleton on the back deck of R/V Nanuq. Brrrrr! Rather you than me, Shackleton. 

Education and Outreach Corner

Travel to Tatitlek

Nicole Webster (NGA grad student) joined Katie Gavenus and Alexa Helm of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies to facilitate in-person marine science learning for students in the Chugach School District last month.  They traveled to the village of Tatitlek, where they worked with 3 elementary students and 4 middle school/high school students for 2 days.  The focus was marine mammals; students learned about marine mammal sounds and deployed a hydrophone at the ferry dock, played an echolocation game, and investigated the insulative properties of blubber, fur, and feathers. Brandon Moonin and Jemerson Anahonak shared knowledge about Sugpiaq cultural practices related to marine mammal harvest and use as well as Sugt'stun names for common marine mammals. Brandon and Jemerson are with the Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation & Language Programs. 

In the afternoon of the second day, the groups split up for more individualized learning: the older students built a hydrophone with Nicole and Alexa while the younger students learned about whale feeding strategies with Katie, listened to two marine mammal storybooks, and created their own group stories about different marine mammals using puppets.  Weather delays and other constraints prevented travel to Chenega Bay, but we hope to connect with them virtually in the next two weeks. An in-person visit to Whittier school is planned for early March.

Partnership with Bonanza Creek

The NGA has been invited to partner with Bonanza Creek (BNZ) LTER on a very exciting opportunity for first generation college students! BNZ offers an annual Climate Research Intensive for 7-8 Climate Scholars from the University of Alaska Fairbanks as well as 7-8 students from Santa Clara Community College; participants currently travel to the BNZ LTER site to learn about BNZ and develop their own research projects in an intensive 10-day program. We have proposed to host this program twice during the NGA LTER Phase II. Instead of spending all 10 days at BNZ LTER, during those summers participants will travel to southcentral Alaska for 5-6 days of their program and focus on marine science research relevant to the NGA LTER. They will stay on the shores of Kachemak Bay, at either the NOAA/UAF Kasitsna Bay Laboratory or the Peterson Bay Field Station operated by CACS and will learn from NGA LTER researchers and educators and develop their own marine science research projects. 

Above: Nicole Webster shared her hydrophone with the students and used it to listen from the ferry dock to the underwater sounds of birds, fish, and … snowballs! Below: The next day, Nicole and Alexa Helm from CACS guided the middle school and high school students through the creation of their own acoustic hydrophone.
Below: Alexa Helm and Katie Gavenus from CACS help students learn about the insulative properties of blubber, fur, and feathers through an activity called “blubber mitts.” Also discussed was how not only does blubber insulate animals, seal oil is an important food and fuel source for people. Photo credits: Nicole Webster.
Upcoming Events


Watch this space for more information on our summer 2023 REU cohort! The NGA LTER REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) is offered every other year. After a virtual program for 7 students in 2021, we are excited to invite students to UAF in person in 2023. We received an unprecedented number of applicants (>500), and plan to announce our student roster shortly. 


Oceanography Field Course

Are you interested in gaining oceanographic field experience, or know someone who is? Watch this space for more information on an upcoming UAF field course, taught by Ana Aguilar-Islas, Seth Danielson, and Gwenn Hennon. The course will use the R/V Nanuq to sample Aialik Bay and will be offered from Seward at the end of August.


Facilitated Student Dialog

A NGA LTER student dialogue workshop is scheduled for the week of April 3rd, 2023. The workshop will be facilitated by Nikki Baird and Kana Carr from UAF’s Student Health and Counseling Center

Spring Cruise

The field season is upon us! The spring pre-cruise meeting with the R/V Sikuliaq will happened on March 15. Soon after, we will schedule the participant’s pre-cruise meeting. Stay tuned for when that will take place. Information will come via e-mail. Our cruise number is SKQ202307S.

Volunteers wanted: Are you or anyone you know interested in participating in the spring cruise? We are still looking for a few volunteers. Cruise dates are listed below. For more information, please contact Kerri; we'll put you in touch with those looking for a helping hand. 


2023 NGA LTER Cruise Dates

Ship: R/V Sikuliaq
Chief Scientist: Dr. Aguilar-Islas
Cruise ID: SKQ202307S
Mobilization: April 20-21
Start Date: April 22 depart
End Date: May 8th arrival
Demobilization: May 9


Ship: R/V Kilo Moana
Chief Scientist: Dr. Hopcroft
Cruise ID: TBD
Mobilization: June 27-28
Start Date: June 29 depart
End Date: July 15
Demobilization: July 16


Ship: R/V Tiglax
Chief Scientist: Dr. Hopcroft
Cruise ID: TGX2023-09
Mobilization: Sept 9-10
Start Date: Evening of Sept 10 or morning of Sept 11
End Date: Sept 18
Demobilization: Sept 19

R/V Sikuliaq looking particularly impressive at the Seward Marine Center dock, spring 2022. 

NGA LTER Executive Committee
Lead PI – Russ Hopcroft
Co-PIs – Ana Aguilar-Islas, Seth Danielson, Jerome Fiechter, Suzanne Strom
Collaborator – Gwenn Hennon
DEI Committee Chair – Ana Aguilar-Islas
E&O – Katie Gavenus
Graduate Student Representative – Emily Ortega
Post-Doctoral Representative – Tom Kelly
Project Manager – Kerri Fredrickson

Newsletter questions, comments, additions? 
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Northern Gulf of Alaska Long Term Ecological Research · PO Box 757220 · University Of Alaska Fairbanks College Of Fisherie · Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220 · USA

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