Government seeks comment on possible Bering Sea drilling
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service on Tuesday announced it is launching an environmental review of possible offshore oil and gas drilling in the salmon-rich area of Bristol Bay, where energy exploration was temporarily banned following the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.
The area is also home to the world’s biggest sockeye salmon runs and a plethora of marine life, including some of the last known eastern Pacific right whales, a critically endangered species. Full report
Satellite image of the Yukon Delta and Bering Sea. This is how the Big Oil and media would like you to see the area: Alien, Icy, lifeless!
The Yukon Delta (Center) and Bering Sea (Left) image taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite March 8, 2004. (REUTERS/MODIS Rapid Responce Team/NASA-GSFC RCS)
Teeming with Life: Closeups of Yukon Delta and Bering Sea
“Rock Sandpipers drop from the air and into a roost along the shores of the Bering Sea, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Shorebirds form roosts as the tide rises. Once the tide drops and foraging sites are once again exposed, the roost disperses.” (Photo Credit: USGS, Alaska Science Center)
They can gain protection from aerial predators by forming large flocks, but they don’t stand a chance against the Big Oil!
“A flock of Dunlin wheels past at Egegik Bay, Alaska. These small shorebirds gain protection from aerial predators by forming large flocks.” (Photo Credit: USGS, Alaska Science Center)
“Recently hatched Rock Sandpiper chicks, St. Matthew Island, Alaska. Most shorebird chicks exit the nest quickly after hatch and begin to feed themselves, relying on parents for frequent brooding. Their coloration allows them to blend into their tundra surroundings, escaping the detection of predators.” (Photo Credit: USGS, Alaska Science Center)
The Pribilof Islands are in the Bering Sea, approximately 770 mi west-southwest of Anchorage and 250 mi north of the Aleutian Islands. Approximately 3 million seabirds nest on the islands, and nearly 1 million northern fur seals—about 70 percent of the world’s northern-fur-seal population—migrate there each year to breed. Other animals on the islands include arctic foxes and herds of reindeer. (Photo ; caption courtesy of USGS.)
Common Murres at breeding sites on Bogoslof Island in 1999. Murres (including Thick-billed Murres) are excellent subjects for studies of food stress: They are numerous, relatively easy to capture and breed widely throughout the Bering Sea. Both species have declined markedly at some colonies in the Bering Sea since the 1970’s.
Black-legged and Red-legged Kittiwake breeding colony on Bogoslof Island. The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is monitoring breeding success and chick growth rates at nest sites on Bogoslof and the Pribilof islands.
The sea otter is the keystone species for the nearshore marine environment. Sea otter populations are in decline both in California and Alaska, and the California population is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. (Photo and caption courtesy of USGS, Santa Cruz Field Station).