This blog documents the process of creating a 25-minute animated film at the University of Alaska Museum of the North that tells the story of bowhead whale annual migration in the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The film takes its basic narrative and title from the 2013 calendar edited by Steve Okkonen, A Year in the Life of Bowhead Whales. The purposes of the film are to improve public understanding of the marine ecosystem, with emphasis on the whales and the zooplankton. Specific topics covered include whale taxonomy, physiology, diet, behaviors, and overall movement through subarctic and arctic waters, as well as the current tagging and aerial observation programs and work with Inupiat whalers.

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.

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