The 44th annual Iditarod trail sled dog race gets underway on Sunday, although the festive ceremonial start in Anchorage happens tomorrow. This is one of the largest fields in the race's history at 85 mushers signed up to start. KNOM News Director Emily Schwing and Alaska Public Media's Zachariah Hughes will be reporting from the trail. Before they take off, let's find out who they're keeping an eye on and what to watch out for along the trail. Download Audio
The warm winter has extended far north of Anchorage as well. The spring season for bearded seals, or ugruk, has come nearly two months early for some hunters in Western Alaska. Warm weather makes the hunt a little easier, but locals are concerned about precarious sea ice and unpredictable weather. Download Audio
One of the warmest winters on record in Alaska means the spring season for bearded seals, or ugruk , has come nearly two months early for some hunters in Western Alaska. Warm weather makes the hunt a little easier, but locals are concerned about precarious sea ice and unpredictable weather. Listen now
A team of biologists left for Saint Lawrence Island on Wednesday to consult with local walrus hunters in Savoonga and Gambell. Jim MacCracken heads the Alaska program for marine mammals management with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He says biologists are eager to collect traditional knowledge from hunters and community members. Download Audio
For the first time, scientists have documented the prevalence of two biotoxins in Alaska’s marine mammal population above the Arctic Circle. That’s according to a new study out Thursday in the Journal Harmful Algae. But it’s not clear if algal toxins have always existed in the Arctic, because scientist never looked before now. Download Audio
The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman had to return to Dutch Harbor a few days early this week. The cutter and its crew were forced to turn back from a regular patrol in the Bering Sea when one of the ship’s diesel engines malfunctioned.
Billions of dollars worth of drilling equipment and support vessels operated by Royal Dutch Shell are sitting out in the Bay in front of Dutch Harbor this week. The company has plans to take most of that equipment north for exploratory drilling operations later this summer. Many of the local businesses benefit from the oil giant’s presence. Download Audio
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Letter of Authorization on Tuesday to Shell. The authorization allows the oil company to “take small numbers of Polar bears and Pacific walrus incidental to activities occurring during its ‘Outer Continental Shelf 2015’ exploration drilling program in the Chukchi Sea” this summer. Download Audio
The Transocean Polar Pioneer, a drill rig contracted by Royal Dutch Shell, has arrived in Dutch Harbor. The oil company plans to use the port as a hub this summer as part of their exploratory Arctic drilling effort. There’s very little opposition in the tiny Alaskan town in comparison to that in Seattle, where some environmental activists went so far as to chain themselves to one of Shell’s Arctic drilling support vessels last month. Download Audio:
The International Maritime Organization’s Marine Safety Committee is in the middle of its 95th session in London this week. Included on the committee’s agenda is the adoption of five recommended “areas to be avoided” in the Aleutian Chain. The shipping buffer zones come in anticipation of increased mariner shipping traffic in the region. Download Audio:
Pollock ‘B’ Season opened Wednesday in the Aleutian Islands and Eastern Bering Seas Region.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday in favor of the Department of Interior’s approval of two oil spill response plans for Arctic drilling put forward by Royal Dutch Shell. The company plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer.
The International Maritime Organization’s Marine Safety Committee is in the middle of its 95th session in London this week. Included on the committee’s agenda is the adoption of five recommended “areas to be avoided” in the Aleutian Chain. The shipping buffer zones come in anticipation of increased mariner shipping traffic in the region.
The finalization of a deal to acquire Horizon Lines’ Alaska operations means the nation’s largest Jones Act shipping company no longer exists. But the Matson Navigation Company isn’t planning any major changes to shipping service in the state.
Two 25-foot Coast Guard response boats arrived in Dutch Harbor this week. The boats will patrol waters off the coast of Dutch Harbor as oil giant Royal Dutch Shell moves forward with plans to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Download Audio:
Alaska’s Orthodox Bishop, David Mahaffey was in Unalaska last week. He has held his post in Alaska for just over a year. He said in that time, he’s placed more focus on work with the Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor Training Program, or RADACT, to address issues of substance and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.
A new fish processor opened its doors in Kent, Washington this spring. It is operated by the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association. Revenue from the processor is expected to help fuel economies in remote communities along the Aleutian chain.