Bering Strait Response Teaching Tool
Mapping marine mammal populations in the Bering Strait
The Arctic is being affected by climate change twice as fast as other regions, allowing for increased use of the Bering Strait for shipping and interest in oil exploration. Increased activity comes with increased risk of an oil spill, so it is important to understand the resources at risk and provide visualization of those resources.
Information on marine mammal distributions was gathered from agencies, non- profits, and existing subsistence mapping efforts and put into the proper format for inclusion in mapping software. The data is made available in the Bering Strait Response Teaching Tool (BSRTT), which includes other information for teaching about spill response in the region. Outreach efforts then brought the BSRTT to communities in the Bering Sea region.
Data on the distribution of whales, walrus, seals, and polar bears is visualized in a manner that can be used in educational tools for people of the area and for spill responders. The BSRTT includes information on the distribution of marine mammals, birds, infrastructure, shipping, and an oil spill trajectory model run. Using this information it is possible to explore where a spill may go, what spill response resources are nearby, and the animals that may be affected. The BSRTT is available at bsrtt. defenders.org. It is linked with the Alaska Ocean Observing System data portal that in turn is linked with the Arctic Environmental Response Management Application designed for spill responders.