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Feds looking for study ideas


The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is looking for ideas on what to study next.

The Environmental Studies Program is aimed at gathering baseline data for use in any number of future activities.


“We look across the physical, biological and social dimensions, so physical oceanography, ocean spill risk analysis, general biology, marine mammals, Endangered Species Act-listed species, fisheries, the whole gambit," says Catherine Coon, Alaska Studies Chief for BOEM.

The Bureau is asking for study ideas from both the regional and national levels. Coon says those requests are a little different. And just as they’re looking for a wide spectrum of proposals, they’ll get them from a wide spectrum of groups and individuals.

“Our Alaska region call asks for a specific profile template. Provide to us a specific idea in a 2-3 page summary in a prescribed format. From our headquarters office, they’re just saying ‘hey, general public, do you have any big picture thoughts on where we should focus our energies.’ We hear from both individuals and groups, other federal agencies, universities, things like that," Coon said.

Currently, the Bureau has a number of studies going in Lower Cook Inlet, looking at food webs and habitat in Kachemak Bay. Coon says these local study proposals can help fill information gaps. For instance:

“if there’s something like we need to better understand the winter distribution of beluga whales and the area hasn’t been studied since 2003, a message from the public might be it would be really important to understand if those areas in Kamishak Bay are still relevant to wintering grounds. Or is it just entirely unknown because the population is small. Or, since the population is small, we recommend the key way to figure that out would be placing hydrophones along the rivers.”

That’s a basic idea of what the Bureau is looking for. Proposals need to be in by Februrary 5th and must stay within the realms of bological, oceanographic, cultural and economic research.