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About Becca Robbins Gisclair
Becca Robbins Gisclair is Associate Director of Arctic Programs at Ocean Conservancy. As a kid Becca’s first career choice was to be a marine biologist. As an attorney she finds herself inside a bit more, but considers herself very fortunate to have spent the last eleven years working with conservation groups, indigenous communities and fishermen in Alaska and the Arctic to protect our oceans. When not in a meeting room, Becca can be found in her sea kayak searching for seals or a new bright color of sea star in her ocean backyard in Bellingham, WA. Favorite kayak trip so far? Haida Gwaii!
Becca with two of the women who’ve been inspiring her her whole life–her mom and sister. Courtesy Becca Robbins Gisclair.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating stand out #WomeninConservation all week long. Here, Becca Robbins Gisclair, Associate Director of our Arctic Programs, reflects on the women who have inspired her throughout her career. Check back every day for new blogs, and don’t forget to join our Twitter chat on Wednesday, March 8th at 1 pm EST!
The title is a bit misleading because the list of women in conservation who inspire me is a long one. I have had the good fortune of working with a large tribe of inspiring women throughout my career in the non-profit, conservation and Alaska Native communities. In fact, throughout my life I’ve been surrounded with strong and inspiring women, including my two grandmothers, my mother and sister and countless friends.
In honor of International Women’s Day, here are a few who rise to the top of my list:
Celebrate with me—I have some incredibly exciting news! President Obama just declared important protections for the northern Bering Sea and the Bering Strait by establishing the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.
The Northern Bering Sea and Bering Strait is like no place on Earth. It is home to indigenous communities who have relied on the rich resources of the area for millennia. The traditional subsistence way of life is inextricably tied to this rich marine ecosystem. President Obama responded to requests from over 70 tribes in the region to create the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.
The Executive Order issued by President Obama establishes comprehensive management for the region that establishes a role for Alaska Native tribes and traditional knowledge into federal management. The order also provides important safeguards against threats from increased vessel traffic and oil and gas development, and maintains the current closure to bottom trawl fishing, while allowing existing commercial fishing and sustainable economic development to continue.
Today, the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean hit the second lowest minimum on record during the summer of 2016.
This is why:
Sea ice is the foundation of the Arctic ecosystem. Wildlife like the iconic polar bear depends on sea ice to hunt prey such as ringed seals, forage and breed. As their sea ice habitat continues to diminish, it is estimated that by 2050, global polar bear populations will decrease by 30%.
Sea ice is tied to indigenous culture and the subsistence way of life. The Arctic is home to indigenous communities that depend on a healthy marine environment to survive. As sea ice diminishes, many communities are being forced to travel much further to hunt, and face new challenges like more frequent, more severe storms.
Our blog series on the lesser known (but just as cool) species of the Arctic continues with Arctic copepods. Read our other blogs from the series: polar cod and brittle stars.
I’ve always loved ribbon seals, narwhals and ringed seals to name a few cute Arctic creatures. While these beautiful animals get all the glory, they wouldn’t be around for these important little guys at the base of the food chain: meet the copepod!
“Copepod” means oar-footed, and that is how these aquatic crustaceans, often called “insects of the sea” move around. They use their four to five pairs of legs as well as their mouth and tail to swim. In the Arctic, copepods live on the seafloor, in the water column and on the sea ice. In the water column, there are more copepods than any other multi-cellular organism.
Copepods come in many forms—some are filter feeders, some are predators. Copepods have two major life forms and grow by shedding their shell. They go through 12 stages after hatching—that’s a lot of wardrobe changes! By our standards, copepods are tiny, measuring in at 0.3 to 2cm long at full size.