Ocean acidification was in the mix at an annual environmental sampling workshop this spring hosted by the Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research (SEATOR) partnership. The workshop, which brings together staff from 16 Tribal governments, university researchers, and state and federal agencies, serves as both a strategic planning meeting and a hands-on training opportunity for new staff. In addition to ocean acidification, the training covered harmful algal bloom sampling, shellfish testing, invasive green crab monitoring and grant management.
SEATOR partners have been collecting discrete ocean acidification samples since 2017 when the Sitka Tribe of Alaska installed a Burke-o-Lator (a state-of-the-art seawater analyzing instrument); however, maintaining the OA program in the face of high maintenance costs, challenging protocols, and complex data has been a challenge. This year, AOOS supported OA researcher and former Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) employee Esther Kennedy to help lead the OA portion of the workshop.
Highlights of the OA-focused work included a day working closely with STA staff on Burke-o-Lator maintenance, long-term needs, and underlying chemistry; a hands-on practice session to teach workshop attendees how to safely collect and preserve surface water samples; and full-group discussions about how to interpret coastal OA data, what information Tribal participants most needed and on what timescales, and what the long-term shape of the OA program should look like. Coastal acidification is just one of the many environmental threats the SEATOR partnership is proactively monitoring; finding the balance between leveraging partnerships, local expertise, and funding to maintain the existing monitoring program while ensuring it directly fits the needs of participating Tribal governments is key.