Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Film makers follow the sea ice in search of whales

The Barrow sea ice went out on Monday, and a whaling crew went out with it, stranded for the better part of a day before being brought in by the local SAR team. Photo: arcticcurrents.wordpress.com

The Barrow sea ice went out in late April, and a whaling crew went out with it, stranded for the better part of a day before being brought in by the local SAR team. Photo: arcticcurrents.wordpress.com

Each year, bowhead whales migrate in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi Seas. Their voyage is testament to their endurance. It also provides a window into the marine ecosystem—to the whales and the zooplankton, and all of the elements that can influence movement through subarctic and arctic waters.

This migration is the subject of Arctic Currents, a film in production under the auspices of the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The film takes its basic narrative and title from the 2013 calendar edited by Steve Okkonen, A Year in the Life of Bowhead Whales. It is set to premier in October 2014.

This replica of a bowhead whale hangs suspended in the Museum of the North. Filmmakers from UAF are working on a bowhead documentary set to premier in October. Photo: arcticcurrents.wordpress.com

This replica of a bowhead whale hangs suspended in the Museum of the North. Filmmakers from UAF are working on a bowhead documentary set to premier in October. Photo: arcticcurrents.wordpress.com

According to the film’s website, all principal production and post-production services are being carried out by University of Alaska Museum of the North staff and University of Alaska Fairbanks student employees.

The visual elements of the film center around 3D photorealistic animation of whales, copepods, and krill in arctic waters, as well as hemispheric-level interpretation of bowhead annual movement using MODIS satellite imagery, and featuring aerial survey and satellite tagging data. Narration for the film will be recorded and presented in English, Inupiat, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik.

Arctic Currents: A Year in the Life of the Bowhead Whale is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Cooperative Institute for Alaska Research, the Center for Global Change and Arctic System Research, and the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Project funding is administered by the University of Alaska Coastal Marine Institute.

Follow the progress of the film on its blog.