Beaufort Sea, Blog, Boulder Patch, Field Season, North Slope, Prudhoe Bay, Science

Welcome to the Boulder Patch!

Part of my graduate research focuses on the biological community living in a unique habitat known as the Boulder Patch. This ancient deposit of rocks on the seabed is the largest rocky reef in the coastal Alaskan arctic, and may be an important ‘stepping stone’ linking biota of the North Pacific to those in the North Atlantic.

We study this system by deploying instruments that monitor environmental conditions in the Boulder Patch over the entire year. The Boulder Patch is located near the mouth of the Sagavanirktok River and thus experiences fluxes in salinity over the year, as well as fluxes in temperature and light associated with being in the Arctic. Although we can deploy and retrieve many of the instruments from a boat (the R/V Proteus), some must be done on SCUBA. We also use SCUBA to collect biological samples.

This summer, we had really bad luck with the weather (I will discuss this a bit more in my next post). We only had 4 days in the field and visibility underwater was not great. Nevertheless, I was able to splice together some footage to make the video above. It was my first time using a GoPro while diving, and it went much better than I expected. The video includes some of the critters inhabiting the Boulder Patch as well as shots of some of the equipment we deployed there (light meters, current meters, settling plates).  I would recommend watching it in HD 🙂  Enjoy!

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