|HOME SCHEDULE AUTHOR INDEX SUBJECT INDEX|
Listening to fish: Science and Wisdom on the Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plain.
Ford, Jesse*,1, Allen-Gil, Susan2, Seigle, John 1, Nashagnik, Joshua, Woods, Joeb, Akpik, Maasak , 1 Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR2 Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY
ABSTRACT- Our collaborative work on routes of contaminant entry into Arctic Alaskan ecosystems began when funding was approved for Iñupiat whitefish experts and translators to work with project scientists and students. The first project meeting was held several months before the first field season and affected basic aspects of the study design, including site selection and target species. Reciprocally, the scientific studies have revealed unexpected information ancillary to project goals, such as the discovery of a surprisingly deep hole in one commonly used subsistence lake, or the nature and timing of marine experience (as revealed by otolith microchemistry) of whitefish caught in inland lakes. Specifically, one whitefish species appears to be exploiting brackish or marine environments only infrequently (least cisco, Coregonus sardinella, iqalusaaq). By contrast, a larger species (broad whitefish, C. nasus, aanaakliq) is a frequent and heavy user of such environments, and interestingly has lower Hg concentrations than even the generally low levels found in least cisco. Field work in most cases was done collaboratively at subsistence camps, where catches proved to be higher than in lakes whose position was estimated from state files or chosen by professional judgement. In field camp, differences between the scientific team and local experts generally related to pace and timing of activities. At the request of the Kuukpikmiut Subsistence Oversight Committee we did not use helicopter access in our last season but rather travelled by snowmachine, which was both cost-effective and also more scientifically productive, as it returned control over field activities to the on-site team instead of linking them to pre-set helicopter schedules.
Key words: whitefish, contaminants, traditional knowledge, arctic