“Participation in this scientific survey allowed me to improve my knowledge of a fish fauna and ground community of the Chukchi Sea. In addition opportunity to work in team with the American scientists allowed me not only to improve knowledge of English but also to master new methods in studying and the accounting of hydrobionts.” – a quote from Igor Grigorov, PhD student from Moscow, Russia

Reflecting from the sky, northern lights glimmer and swirl above the Chukchi Sea. A perfect way to send us home after traveling above the Arctic Circle. As my new friend and colleague Igor Grigorov has said, this voyage upon the Chukchi Sea has made great leaps of improvement of our knowledge in this region. As a part of the scientific crew on a research cruise, my eyes have been opened to being out in the field. Working many hours on a ship made the days go by too quickly!

Being on the Chukchi Sea for five weeks has given me a new perspective of the scientific community and, after being so closely involved with my environment while growing up, gave me a drive to learn more about the Arctic. The sea ice is very important to my culture and to other coastal communities that depend on it for subsistence hunting that lives on since time immemorial. I had noticed in the short time from when I was growing up how drastically the ice declined and showed up later and later every year on our shores, and seemed to be more dangerous to be on due to the fact that it was very crumbly. Now, I understand the significance it relays to our marine, avian and estuarine life from the micrometer sizes to our largest marine mammals.

All of us who depend on the ocean, depend on the cycle of life from tiny phytoplankton and bacteria to copepods, to many different types of fish, to the maktak from the bowhead whale! If I could, I would like to be a part of understanding the bowhead migrations to implement in my future Master’s degree studies due to the retracting sea ice and also how it would affect their food resources. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have been a part of this research cruise. I would love to let everyone know back at home how much rigorous effort and time is spent on acquiring all these data. The marine ecosystem is precious now in my eyes, an outer world experience I couldn’t fathom from all my textbook reading.

Colors we will never forget from our time on the R/V  Ocean Starr . Photo credit: Aleksey Somov

Colors we will never forget from our time on the R/V Ocean Starr. Photo credit: Aleksey Somov