Harlequin ducks have arrived
A captive harlequin duck study is being conducted at the Alaska SeaLife Center by Dan Esler of the USGS. The study is looking at the correlation between an enzyme occurring naturally in the body that reacts to the presence of oil and duck survival under captive conditions. Specifically, researchers will look at how oil exposure reduces survival through altered behavior and/or metabolism. These results are relevant to describe oil effects, predict recovery times and aid in oil spill management.
Twenty female harlequin ducks were captured from Montague Island, an unoiled area in Prince William Sound, for this study. The birds will be housed in the outdoor research area at the center through April. At the end of the study, they will be released to their initial capture locations.
Halibut project begins
Live halibut were recently brought into the center for the purpose of testing satellite pop-up tags as a tool for identifying critical habitat. The research is being conducted by Dr. Jennifer Nielsen of the USGS and is funded through Exxon Valdez Oil Spill settlement money.
The definition of critical habitat in the marine environment is essential to the development of reserves or protected areas in relationships to a sustainable commercial or sport fishery.
The main goal of this project is to assess and test the appropriate application and effectiveness of a new technology -- satellite pop-up tags -- which could assist in the assessment of critical marine habitat in the Gulf of Alaska. The project also will design a software program that can be used for geolocation tracking of marine fish using light and depth data received from the tags.
The Alaska State Veterinary Medicine Association will hold a meeting and banquet at the center Saturday. The center will close at 5 p.m. for the event. The last visitor will be admitted to the center at 4 p.m.
The center's new operating hours will begin Sunday. Winter hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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