Tag Archives: Media coverage

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.

Crosscut Article on Our Work

Last April I went to Barrow for a few days to prepare for the upcoming field season and, more importantly, to visit with my colleagues and friends in Barrow without the rushed atmosphere of my visits when I am there heading out to the field or back to Seattle.  Without the support and friendship of those in the community of Barrow I never would have been able to conduct seabird research for forty years on a sand and gravel bar 25 miles east of the village.

I was accompanied on my April trip by Eric Scigliano, a Seattle science writer, who is a frequent contributor to Crosscut, a Seattle-based online news magazine with “News of the Great Nearby”.  His story on our trip is linked here and at the image below.


Barrow, Alaska in mid April. Credit Eric Scigliano

 Eric’s piece is a good summary of the Cooper Island findings and includes (on page 2) a description of a unique observation I made on Cooper in 2014 which shows how climate change could be increasing romance and passion for some of the Black Guillemot pairs breeding on the  island.