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Jodi Pirtle, Fisheries Scientist in the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office Habitat Conservation Division

Number of years working with NOAA: 

Less than 1 year

Current location: 

Juneau, Alaska

Describe your role or a project related to habitat that you are currently working on.

We completed a review and update of Essential Fish Habitat for Alaska this year. This was the first update for our region to apply a habitat modeling approach to EFH. This huge effort involved close collaboration between the Alaska Regional Office Habitat Division, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and Alaska Pacific University. I am now working on habitat models to expand information on fish survival and growth, and population connectivity between offshore and inshore habitats for several studies that are getting started this summer in the field and lab.

What habitat work has been especially inspiring to you?

Advances in marine habitat mapping and species distribution modeling have reached spatial scales that are meaningful to ecosystem-based fisheries management. We are doing some great things in Alaska and I look forward to the fun and innovative work ahead.

Describe a time when you were surprised by fish habitat.

We were mapping the Gulf of Alaska seafloor on the NOAA ship Oscar Dyson to study groundfish habitat in 2011. In the twilight of the early morning hours of summer in Alaska, we came across an uncharted feature inshore, along the Alaska Peninsula. The team worked together to map it and collect video data with a drop camera. The feature, likely of volcanic origin, was covered with anemones with large halibut roaming slowly through the field of view. Our shoal depth was used to update charts for the area. It was a fun and synergistic moment between seafloor mapping for fish habitat and navigation.

What person has expanded your understanding or connection to habitat?

I can’t choose just one person. Many people along the way and at present have expanded my understanding and connection to habitat. NOAA’s Waldo Wakefield, Mary Yoklavich, Al Stoner, and Chris Rooper, and in academia Gisele Muller-Parker, Brian Tissot, Ginny Eckert, Jennifer Reynolds, Larry Mayer, and Tom Weber have most significantly provided generous guidance, patience, many fun and rewarding opportunities, and continue to be sources of encouragement and inspiration in our shared love of marine habitat and mapping the seafloor of our beautiful, mostly blue home.