An Ocean of Stories: Improving Understanding of Coastal Ecosystem Issues & Research in Kachemak Bay, Alaska with esri Story Maps

Brianne Visaya, National Centers of Coastal Ocean Science, National Ocean Service, Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, Homer, AK, United States
Summary: Kachemak Bay, a designated NOAA Habitat Focus Area, is a dynamic ecosystem that will be presented through Story Maps to help the community grasp the science conducted to understand challenges from environmental changes.

Introduction: Located in southern Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay supports fishing communities as well as marine transportation, tourism, and threatened and endangered species. The bay is monitored by NOAA’s Kasitsna Bay Laboratory (KBL), Kachemak Bay National Estuary Research Reserve, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and others. Creating Story Maps about the various research conducted around Kachemak Bay will illustrate and help educate glacial change effects on nearshore ecosystems for its residents and visitors. Story Maps will spark discussions between researchers, local businesses, and community leaders about directions or opportunities for additional research.

StoryMaps. The intention of the project is to illustrate Alaska’s dynamic ecosystem through a series of ArcGIS Story Maps to help the community grasp the science conducted to understand challenges from environmental changes. Story Maps are web-based applications that allow viewers to delve into a topic with immersive text, interactive maps, and videos. In addition, these Story Maps will serve to communicate information about Kachemak Bay research to other scientists and individuals interested in working in the region. Four Story Maps were created as part of a summer internship project at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s Kasitsna Bay Laboratory. These Story Maps focus on benthic habitat mapping, Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS), fjords, and fieldwork in Kachemak Bay. The Story Maps help communicate the types of field research by multiple organizations conducted in Kachemak Bay, as well as some results from that research. These Story Maps were developed as initial tools to communicate about Kachemak Bay’s ecosystem and changes it experiences.

Future Work: An immediate next step would be to receive feedback from stakeholders in regions to ensure the content meets the needs of the community.