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Sea Grant Book Gets Photo Spread in Alaska Magazine

Submitted by Kurt Byers
Phone: 474-6702

06/13/03

The July issue of Alaska magazine just hit the newsstands, and it contains a six-page, color photo spread from Alaska Sea Grant's soon-to-be-published book about the Bering Sea, "The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands: Region of Wonders." The photos are accompanied by a portion of the book's introduction, written by University of Alaska Fairbanks associate professor, Terry Johnson, the Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Homer, Alaska.

Some of the 11 photos in the Alaska magazine spread were shot by University of Alaska Fairbanks students and faculty.

A golden-colored micrograph of diatoms from the Bering Sea was recorded by Stacy Smith, a PhD student at the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (SFOS).

An ethereal-looking bull kelp frond that projects a dreamlike magical sense of life underwater was photographed in the Aleutians by scuba diving SFOS researcher Brenda Konar.

A fantastic image of a jelleyfish, with long tentacles streaming outward from its parachute-like body, conjures images of aliens floating through the blackness of outer space. That one was recorded by Russell Hopcroft, also a scientist at SFOS.

An uncredited SFOS file photo depicts a young Native boy proudly showing off a bucket of murre bird eggs collected for food.

The book from which the photos come covers a lot of, er, ground, beginning with an overview that sets the context for the Bering Sea and it's place in our planet's scheme of things.

The other richly illustrated chapters of the 200-page book include one that describes the cultural history of the region from prehistoric times through Russian rule, abuse of the Aleuts, the U.S. takeover in 1867 and decimation of fur seal and sea otters, World War II and the Cold War, through present day exploitation of the fisheries and discussion of the region's infant tourism industry.

Two chapters are devoted to animal and plant life in and above the Bering Sea, with page after page of wonderful photos, including colorful underwater images of kaleidoscopic seafloors in the Aleutians covered with a dizzying array of sponges, corals, brachiopods, and other invertebrates.

Marine mammals get detailed treatment in text and photos, including several species of whales, porpoises, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, walruses, sea otters, and even polar bears. One page offers detailed color drawings of all the whale species that inhabit the Bering Sea.

Over thirty species of seabirds, shorebirds, water fowl, and raptors are described in text and photos.

Even seaweeds get several pages of attention, with many astounding underwater photos of kelp forests in the Aleutians and landscapes of the extensive seagrass beds at Izembek Lagoon at the western tip of the Alaska Peninsula.

The chapter on culture and commerce contains some reproductions of remarkable original hand-written letters from the UAF Rasmuson Library Alaska and Polar Region Archives, written in the 1800s by the U.S. Treasury Agents who ruled the Pribilofs like dictators after the United States bought Alaska from the Russians.

One letter contains a plea by the agent on St. George Island to his boss in Washington, DC, asking for a Gatling gun or bombs to kill orcas that were feasting on the economically valuable fur seals the agent was charged with protecting for human harvest.

Sea Grant communications manager Kurt Byers received a $132,000 grant in 1999 to produce the book and Arctic Science Journeys radio stories about research funded by the North Pacific Marine Research Program, a federal program aimed at increasing scientific and general knowledge about the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean.

In addition to overseeing the project, Byers edited and designed the book, and researched photographs and other information graphics. The radio stories about NPMR research projects, produced by Doug Schneider, will be package on a CD with the book.

Byers expects the $25 book to be available in late August. Advance orders can be placed via the Alaska Sea Grant website at www.uaf.edu/seagrant.

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