Protecting Winter Wildlife from Oil Spills

By Lisa Matlock “What lives here in the winter?” This is a question anyone might ask when visiting Prince William Sound in the off-season. It is also a question recently asked by local organizations in order to better protect these rich waters and their wildlife occupants year-round from oil spills. The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council worked with the Prince William Sound Science Center in 2016 to complete a biological resource inventory of winter species in the Sound. The goal of this project was to develop a detailed bibliography documenting the presence of all wildlife studied in the Sound during the winter since 1989. This project allows this information to be shared with anyone working or visiting the region. The resulting paper also identifies gaps in knowledge regarding the Sound’s winter species to be filled by future researchers. It provides valuable, scientifically accurate information that can be used by the Council and others to identify sensitive biological resources which informs oil spill contingency plans and helps spill responders and spill drill participants better consider winter species when protecting sensitive areas from harm. To see the list of winter species download the final report: Winter Species in Prince William Sound, Alaska, 1989-2016   … Continue reading

Community Corner: Citizen scientists help the Council monitor our region

The Council’s nearly 65 volunteers assist with technical work of all kinds each year. Environmental monitoring is but one important effort through which their time and expertise directly impact the safe transportation of oil through Prince William Sound. Continue reading

Plan for applying dispersants to crude oil spills in Alaska waters updated

“The Council does not support the use of dispersants in our region, but with this new plan, responders are required to give more consideration before deciding to use dispersants,” said Donna Schantz, Executive Director for the Council. Continue reading

Smithsonian partners with council to search for marine invasive species

Citizen scientists, the Prince William Sound College, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and the council partner for invasive species event in Prince William Sound Linda McCann Smithsonian Environmental Research Center A crew of marine biologists ventured to Prince William Sound this September for the third Smithsonian-led “bioblitz” in Alaska, this time in Valdez. During a bioblitz, volunteer citizen scientists team up with professional scientists to search for invasive marine invertebrates. This year, the Smithsonian partnered with the council and Prince William Sound College for a week of scientific sampling. Three months before the bioblitz, council staff placed “settlement plates,” sheets of sanded PVC that the invertebrates attach to over time. During the bioblitz, volunteers and staff collected the plates, towed plankton nets, set crab traps, and went scuba diving, to look for various nonnative species. The study helped establish critical baseline data for future research, invasive species management, and conservation initiatives. Fortunately, no new non-native species were found during the bioblitz or the scientific sampling. … Continue reading