Science & Environment

Science and environmental reporting on news and community topics. Science coverage is occasionally provided by community members.

UC Press

It was 1970 when marine ecologist Dr. James Estes first came to Alaska to study marine life. 

Estes flew out to the Aleutian Islands at the behest of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was hired to asses what may happen to local wildlife when the government blew up a nuclear bomb buried roughly one mile deep on a small island almost to Russia.

Courtesy Brenda Tellman

An unattended bonfire caused a tundra fire at Morris Cove last Sunday. When on a walk with her family, Unalaskan Brenda Tellman saw smoke. She went to investigate and found the grass on fire. It was over an acre and spreading.

Tellman says she was scared they would not be able to extinguish the fire before it spread.

“Just people who are making fires out there have to make sure the fire is really out because of sparks with the dry grass," said Tellman. "We don’t have trees, but we do have bushes and a lot of super dry grass.”

Late in the summer, a regional conservation conference will be held in Unalaska, and organizers are calling for presentation ideas by the end of April.

The tagline of the Aleutian Life Forum 2016 is "building resilience in the face of change." Conference organizers describe it as a gathering of national, regional and state scientists, industry stakeholders, community leaders and local knowledge experts concerned about climate change. The conference will focus on coming up with solutions to pivotal conservation issues for coastal communities such as Unalaska.

Pipa Escalante

How many photos do you figure you shoot out the window when you take a trip? 5? 10? 20? How many of you take a picture every three seconds? 

Well, there's a helicopter crew of modern mapmakers that takes three to five thousand photos a day.

Imagine looking out a helicopter window taking pictures as you're traveling 60 miles an hour and you're only 300 feet over the Eastern Aleutian Islands.

That’s a typical day for the four-person ShoreZone flight crew. But why spend so much time when there are satellites?

Northern fur seals at St. Paul Island's Reef rookery.
John Ryan/KUCB

Episode Four, the conclusion of SEAL: The Case of The Vanishing Seals (An Alaskan Island Mystery), originally aired Mar. 28 - 31 on KUCB.