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Art Kendall Retires

(Quarterly Report for Oct-Nov-Dec 2000)

picture of Art Kendal

Arthur Wayne Kendall, Jr., Task Leader of the Center’s Recruitment Processes program and head of NOAA’s FOCI program announced his retirement effective 3 January 2001 after more than 30 years of Federal service.

Art was born on 20 March 1941 in Washington, D.C. He attended the University of Maryland, where he graduated with honors in zoology (with an aquatic option).  During his undergraduate years, he worked for several summers assisting the curator of fishes, Dr. Frank Schwartz, at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.  Art received a M.S. in biological oceanography from the University of Washington in 1966.  That summer, Art had the adventure of a lifetime. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, he sailed on the research vessel Anton Brun studying the feeding habits of demersal fish off the west coast of South America.  In October, Art moved to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to take a position with the U.S. Bureau of Sport fisheries and Wildlife working on the systematics and distribution of larval fishes in the Middle Atlantic Bight.  There he developed life-long friendships and professional relationships with Wally Smith, Mike Fahay, Pete Berrien, and John Sibunka who formed the core of NOAA’s MARMAP ichthyoplankton group.

Art decided to pursue a Ph.D. at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he was the first graduate student of Elbert Ahlstrom, the father of larval fish taxonomy.  In 1971, he participated in the now famous larval fish  course taught by “Ahlie” at the LaJolla laboratory, which was to have a major impact on his career.  There he met many lifetime colleagues including Geoff Moser, Barbara Sumida, Elaine Sandknop, and Jean Dunn.  After the course, Art returned to Sandy Hook where he worked until receiving his Ph.D. in oceanography in 1977.  Soon after, Art was encouraged by Jean Dunn, who had been charged with initiating an ichthyoplankton program for the Subarctic Pacific, to interview for the job to lead the ichthyoplankton group at the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center (NWAFC), (now the Alaska Fisheries Science Center). After taking the  position in 1978, Art immediately became involved in the  OCSEAP (Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program) research in the Gulf of Alaska. His early work centered on the distribution of ichthyoplankton off Kodiak Island, Alaska, and taxonomic research on the family Hexagrammidae.  By early 1980, Art had negotiated a joint cooperative venture between the NWAFC and the Soviet Pacific Research Institute (TINRO) in Vladivostok.  Ten research cruises were conducted to document patterns in occurrence, distribution, and abundance of ichthyoplankton species in coastal waters of the Northeast Pacific.  These were the first large-scale surveys to be carried out in this region. Art presented early results of this work at the 1981 CalCOFI meeting.

In 1982, Art was invited to join an elite group of larval fish taxonomists as a member of the steering and editorial committee for the 1983 E. H. Ahlstrom Memorial Symposium.  As a former student of Ahlie, he was recognized by this honor as one of the leading larval fish taxonomists in the world.  He worked with Geoff Moser, Bill Richards, Mike Fahay, Dan Cohen, and the late Sally Richardson to develop the symposium. Art chaired one symposium session and presented three papers.  He also served as an editor for the landmark symposium volume, Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes, published in 1984.   Art later received a U.S. Dept. of Commerce Silver Medal Award for his contributions toward producing and editing this volume.

In 1980, a large spawning population of walleye pollock was discovered in Shelikof Strait.  This discovery shaped Art’s career for the next 20 years.  Art designed and led a series of ichthyoplankton surveys from 1981 to 1985 to locate the early life history stages of walleye pollock and describe their distribution and abundance patterns. These data provided vital baseline information needed to launch a joint fisheries-oceanographic program.  In 1984, a new government initiative was funded called the Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (FOCI).  The intent of the program was to foster a collaboration between physical and biological oceanographers and fisheries biologists to provide NOAA with a cutting edge research team in the new multidisciplinary field of fisheries oceanography.  In 1987, Art was selected to be the first director of FOCI.

As a supervisor, Art was celebrated for his management style. He gave his scientists a long lead to pursue their research and to excel and insisted that scientists who did the work should get the credit.  The success of this style is reflected by the productivity of his group, with over 200 scientific papers, book chapters, and reports published by FOCI biologists from 1985 to 2000.

One of Art’s major feats during his tenure as Recruitment Processes Task leader was to find a source for counting  the thousands of plankton samples generated by the program’s field operations. That source was the highly capable Polish Plankton Sorting and Identification Center (Zakland Sortowania i Oznaczania Planktonu) in Szczecin, Poland. The bilateral agreement has endured through the communist and free-market periods in Poland.  Problems of language, different scientific and popular cultures, different political systems and bureaucracy constantly challenged both sides.  In a tribute to Art’s resolve to keep the agreement alive and productive, he and two other NMFS biologists were honored at the 25th anniversary of the bilateral agreement.  Art received an Order of Merit medal from the President of Poland.

While leading FOCI, Art not only published many keystone papers on walleye pollock, but also continued his research interests in systematics, rockfish phylogeny, and the history of fisheries oceanography. Art made major research contributions in each of those areas. He received the NMFS Outstanding Publication Award in 1987 for his contribution on sablefish.  He is a longstanding member of numerous professional societies including the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists, and the American Fisheries Society (AFS).  He is currently serving a term as President of the Early Life History Section of the AFS.  Art serves as an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington where he  lectures on early life history of marine fishes and is collaborating on a textbook with Dr. Bruce Miller.

We anticipate that Art will continue his work in science, especially pursuing his rockfish studies. We look forward to collaborating with him, as well as enjoying more hunting and fishing trips, and muddy parties at his cabin on the Skagit River.

Contributed by Ann  Matarese, Kevin Bailey, and Jeff Napp.


Oil Discharge From Abandoned Storage Tank

At approximately 10:00 am AST on Saturday, 18 November 2000, Auke Bay Laboratory (ABL) staff member Brad Weinlaeder noticed the smell of oil and saw an oily sheen on the water nearby.  Brad lives and works year round as a research laboratory mechanic at the remote NMFS research station at  Little Port Walter (LPW) on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska.  Brad’s first concern was that stored diesel fuel at LPW for running  generators might somehow be leaking.

After confirming the oil had not originated from any source at LPW, Brad notified the U.S. Coast Guard, the District Ranger of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the State of Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) that an oil discharge of unknown origin had occurred in the area.  Next, Brad searched in a skiff for the source of the oil, which he suspected might have originated from a fishing boat observed the day before.  His search, however, led to an unexpected oil source: heavy bunker oil from a 70-year-old storage tank hidden in thick rainforest underbrush at an old herring processing plant last operated in the 1930s.

The site of the herring plant is about 1.5 miles from LPW at Newport Walter along the north shoreline in the main Port Walter Fjord.  Supporting timbers had given way, causing the tank to buckle and discharge and estimated 1,000 gallons of bunker oil.  The tank, only a short distance from the sea on a steep slope, had been completely covered from view by forest growth. Because the site is on Tongass National Forest land, the U. S. Forest Service is the agency responsible for this discharge of oil into the marine environment.

Brad recognized the seriousness of the threat from the oil to sensitive research activities at LPW station, where floating net pens with experimental fishes and other studies were under way.  Already the oil had covered several square miles of Port Walter Fjord and nearby Chatham Strait.  It would only be a matter of time with a wind shift or change of tide before large quantities of oil could drift into the inner bay at LPW, seriously compromising or destroying multiyear research studies costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Under Brad’s leadership, station personnel deployed oil booms across the narrow entrance to the inner bay of LPW and around floating net pens to protect research animals and projects. More reports were sent to the Coast Guard and USFS on the origin, seriousness, and magnitude of the oil discharge.

The following day, the Coast Guard made one helicopter flight to LPW from Sitka with additional boom and oil absorbent materials, but inclement weather prevented further flights for several days.  On 20 November,  Ron Heintz and Yacek Maselko from ABL were able to fly to LPW to begin making observations on shoreline damage and deploying oil monitoring devices around the Port Walter Fjord to assess the extent and duration of environmental damage. Over the next several days, clean up, damage assessments, and protection of research was hampered by severe environmental conditions including wind gusting in excess of 50 mph, near freezing temperatures, and 20 inches of rainfall.

The USFS finally was able to travel from Sitka to LPW onboard the vessel Sitka Ranger along with a Coast Guard representative and four people from a private contractor. The USFS also flew in a person from Wrangell trained in handling hazardous materials.  Coast Guard and ADEC personnel flew to LPW from Juneau to help develop a clean up plan. Many of these people were housed in the Headquarters Building at the LPW station.  Based on video data provided by Hentz and Maselko, the Coast Guard and ADEC revised their estimate from 100 gallons to 500-1,000 gallons of bunker “C” oil that had leaked from the tank.

 Tar ball cleanup was conducted along the shorelines of the outer bay of LPW and throughout the Big Port Walter Fjord.   Containment booms and sorbent booms were deployed at the discharge site, and the old storage tank was stabilized with tarps and ropes to prevent further discharge. Low hanging branches on trees in New Port Walter that had absorbed oil on high tides were trimmed and stored for future disposal. By mid-December, a multi-agency inspection of beaches in the Port Walter area certified that most of the potential environmental damage from the discharge had been cleaned up, including removing several hundred gallons of residual oil in the old tank.

By Bill Heard.