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Science & Environment

Science and environmental reporting on news and community topics. Science coverage is occasionally provided by community members.

Courtesy

Last Saturday, Unalaska’s chapter of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action and the UCSD Student Government organized a trash clean-up around the high school and Front Beach. There was a pretty good turn out and about fifteen students representing all different grades in high school showed up to help. The weather was good, and everyone agreed it was a nice day to clean up outside.

Celeste Leroux/Alaska Sea Grant

 

The last commercial harvest of Pribilof Island blue king crab was in 1999. Extremely low population numbers have kept that fishery closed.

“They’re almost like unicorns in the trawl survey now,” said Lauren Divine, co-director of St. Paul’s Environmental Conservation Office. “There are very, very, very few being found. When you find one it’s kind of unreal. It’s kind of surreal. ”

COASST Island Sentinels

In the past two months, 300 dead puffins have washed up on St. Paul Island, alarming residents who had only seen six carcasses over the last decade.

The die-off appears to be slowing down now, but scientists say it could be the sign of a much larger ecosystem problem.

Lauren Divine didn't panic when St. Paul residents found a few dead puffins on the beach in mid-October.

"The first day was a tufted puffin. The next day was a horned puffin. I didn't think too much about it," said Divine, co-director of St. Paul's Ecosystem Conservation Office (ECO). 

Courtesy NOAA Fisheries

Alaska’s endangered Steller sea lion population continues its precipitous decline. The 2016 survey by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows an overall increase in the number of Steller sea lions across Alaska, but a mysterious drop in parts of the western stock.

Zoë Sobel/KUCB

 

In a windowless room at Maine Maritime Academy, Glenn Burleigh is standing calmly at the controls of a massive tanker. He is stuck, encased in a sea of ice, waiting for an icebreaker to break him free.

When help arrives, the rescue doesn’t go as planned.

“I think this is one of the situations where things do go wrong,” Burleigh said. “I seem to have lost my rudder.”

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