Meet Arctic Seabird Biologist George Divoky

Video Shot in: 2009

Dr. George Devoky is a biologist who has been studying black guillemots on Cooper Island, 20 miles east of Point Barrow, for the past 40 years. He first went to the island in 1970 while studying birds in the Beaufort Sea, and then returned in 1975 to study the black guillemot colony he found on Cooper Island which is ideal for black guillemots as they feed at the edge of the pack ice. Divoki built boxes for the birds to occupy and studied their demographics over time, including egg-laying, adult survival, hatching success, and fledging success. Guillemots have an 80-day nesting period, which is long for any species anywhere but in the Arctic. Divoki has been studying the guillemots annually and has records of their demographics for around 35 years, making him one of the few people to any animal for that long. He has named individual birds based on the color bands he places on them and has recognized them over the years. Guillemots are excellent monitors of conditions because they are active all summer long, so any changes that happen during that time can affect their breeding success.