Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
AK MARITIME: Seabird Eggs are Focus of Long-Term Contaminant Study
Alaska Region, March 17, 2005
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A workshop for the Seabird Tissue Archival and Monitoring Project (STAMP) was held at Alaska Maritime Refuge's ?Islands & Ocean Visitor Center? February 15-17, 2005. The project is a planned 100-year effort to monitor long-term trends in environmental quality by collecting, analyzing and banking contents of murre, kittiwake, and gull eggs to establish base line pollutant levels and future analysis.

The three day workshop was attended by 18 representatives from the Service, the US Geological Survey (USGS) Biological Resources Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Bureau of Indian Affairs, Alaska Region Subsistence Branch, World Wildlife Fund, University of Alaska, Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services, and the Alaska Sea Otter and Sea Lion Commission. The agenda included briefings on the project's objectives and accomplishments, a group discussion of priorities, and recommendations and action lists for 2005-2006 field seasons and analysis.

STAMP is a collaborative, long-term contaminants monitoring program initiated by the Refuge, USGS-BRD, and NIST in 1998. In 2004, BIA's Subsistence Branch joined as a fourth federal partner. Murre, kittiwake, and gull eggs are collected at nesting colonies in the Bering and Chukchi Seas and Gulf of Alaska using standardized protocols; egg contents are cryogenically banked in nitrogen vapor freezers at -150 degrees C at NIST's Marine Environmental Specimen Bank at the Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina; subsamples of the stored material are analyzed to document baseline levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs; e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs], brominated flame retardants [polybrominated diphenyl ethers?PBDEs], chlorinated pesticides, dioxins) and mercury; and some of the cryogenically stored material is reserved for future analyses. After baseline levels are established, eggs will be collected every 5-10 years from selected locations and rechecked for potentially harmful contaminants.

Currently, resource managers and subsistence hunters from 15 rural communities, adjacent to Alaska Maritime Refuge collect seabird eggs for STAMP and other communities will be added in 2005-2006. These collections supplement samples from other annual seabird monitoring sites in the Refuge. Efforts are underway to expand the project internationally to nesting colonies in the Sea of Okhotsk, Kuril Islands, and locations in the western Bering and Chukchi Seas (e.g., Commander Islands, Kamchatka and Chukchi peninsulas, Wrangel Island).

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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