Cooper Island on PBS in 2003 – Alan Alda, Scientific Americian Frontiers


In 2003 when the Black Guillemots on Cooper Island first started eating large numbers of sculpin in place of the preferred prey of Arctic cod, the PBS Scientific American Frontiers series paid me a  visit in August. Their work in Alaska that summer resulted in an hour-long show on climate change issues in the state which led off with the Cooper Island segment.  That part of the program can be viewed by clicking on the above image or here.

During the short one-day visit it was gray and rainy for much of the time but they were able to get a surprising amount of good video – including a guillemot chick rejecting a sculpin and eating an Arctic cod and a puffin chasing off a guillemot. This was the first year I had the cabin on the island and they had Barrow Brower, who hauled the cabin out from town the previous winter, bring them out to the island by boat.

I do appreciate hearing the person who played “Hawkeye Pierce” in the TV version of M*A*S*H* explain what was going on with the guillemots on Cooper Island.  Like Alda, the Cooper Island Black Guillemot colony has a connection with the Korean War.  The wooden boxes that provided nesting cavities for guillemots on  Cooper originally contained orndnance intended for Korea.  After that war ended in 1954 it was brought out to Cooper Island for peacetime military exercises.

Cooper Island on Public Radio’s Science Friday

Had the opportunity to be on Science Friday on public radio last week discussing how relatively minor shifts in temperatures in the Arctic can cause major disruptions and shifts in the region’s habitats.

You can listen to the discussion at this link.

Habitats Shift As Arctic Temps Creep Above Freezing

Cheryl Rosa of the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC) was also on the show and provided details  on a number of issues relating to warming-induced changes in both marine and terrestrial  ecosystems.  While now  Deputy Director of USARC, Cheryl used to be with the North Slope Borough’s Department of Wildlife Management, where she used her background as a veterinarian to examine Arctic wildlife, including performing a necropsy  on a polar bear that had starved on the sea ice adjacent to Cooper Island.

Friday graphicScience Friday also had an interview with a city council member from Kivalina,  a coastal village experiencing major erosion due to melting permafrost and increasing waves.

Friends of Cooper Island