University of Vermont

Working as an Environmental Intern for BP

Rose Robinson

This past summer I was lucky enough to get the environmental specialist position working in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Prudhoe Bay is an oil field along the northeast coast of Alaska. This position involved traveling by plane to the oil field every other two weeks and staying in oil rig camps for two weeks. While in Prudhoe Bay we worked every single day starting with a morning safety meeting at 6:30 a.m. and ending with a night safety meeting at 5:30p p.m.

My position involved going out with various biologists to study wildlife during the day. I worked with a consultant biologist monitoring raven nests and fox dens using GIS. We would travel by truck to the different areas in the oil field where there had been known nests and dens and would mark down whether or not they were present and how many. I then worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society monitoring birds ground nest sites. We would travel to different areas where transects had been previously set up and would first collect ground cover data; how much snow, exposed ground and water, etc… We later went through and did rope dragging which involves two people dragging a rope across a transect to spook birds off their nests so that we could see how many eggs were present and how far along they were.

My position primarily was to work with the LGL fish project. LGL is an environmental consultant company that works for BP to monitor arctic fish populations. We set up four nets across Prudhoe Bay’s coast to catch fish for us to measure and count. We would also remove otiliths from Lead Cisco to see the different ages and size comparisons between this year and previous years.

There was so much to learn in the position. From learning special techniques on how to handle fish and remove otiliths from them, to learning how to measure eggs and float them to see how far along they were. I also learned how to work with many people with diverse opinions in regards to the environment and wildlife. Working in an oil field also taught me about the importance of safety with even the smallest things. We were required to wear safety glasses while driving and to always have our head lights on, both basic things to help prevent any accidents from happening.

This position was such a great opportunity to make connections and to get a chance to learn about an Arctic environment that is so isolated. Future specialists in this position should definitely make an effort to get to know the biologists they get to work with since they come from all over the states and the world. They can provide great advice and help you connect with other people for future job opportunities! It is also a great opportunity to get unique field experience! Where else could you go to empty fish nets with a sow polar bear and two cubs in sight.