Bering Sea Days on the Pribilof Islands
Bering Sea Days has become an annual event on the Pribilof Islands where researchers spend a week in the St. Paul school sharing their knowledge with the elementary and high school students about the birds, mammals and marine life of the Bering Sea.
This year, the students learned how to drive an ROV in the ice covered harbor and collect plankton. They also learned about the biology of northern fur seals and how to determine what seals eat; as well as how to view and record scientific information about sea birds.
Others taught the kids about oceanography and the secrets hidden within bones and teeth. The older kids also had a chance to learn about the Citizen Sentinel Program to observe, record and report on the wildlife that comes and goes from the Pribilof Islands.
Michelle Ridgway gives a group of elementary students their first driving lesson
at the controls of an ROV (a Remotely Operated Vehicle)
This year, one of the 11 instructors was Dr. Andrew Trites. With support from the North Pacific Research Board, Dr. Trites had the students consider evidence collected by biologists from fur seals, murres and kittiwakes to determine why life seems to be so much better for those that breed on Bogoslof Island (near the Aleutian Islands) compared to the Pribilof Islands. He also brought the students with him to the Vancouver Aquarium via a webcam to visit the fur seals that came from St. Paul and were named by the school kids.
The kids all seemed to be surprised by how big the fur seals had become since they had last seen them. As for the visiting instructors, they were all surprised by how cold it was and by all of the snow and ice that surrounded the island. What did not surprise anyone was how much fun and rewarding it was to take part in Bering Sea Days.