The North Pacific Ecosystem Metadatabase is an Internet tool for research and discovery of existing information regarding the North Pacific Ocean and its marginal seas. The objective of the North Pacific Ecosystem Metadatabase is to facilitate and enhance the ability of researchers, managers, students, fishermen and the general public to investigate and understand the functioning of the complex ecosystems of the North Pacific Ocean, its marginal seas and coastal areas. Metadata describe the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data. Metadata also provide supporting documentation which can be used to understand decision rules and content of the data. Metadata help a person to locate and understand data. Learn more about the North Pacific Ecosystem Metadatabase by downloading and viewing a PowerPoint presentation delivered at the 2003 Annual Workshop on Marine Science in the Northeast Pacific: Science for Resource Dependent Communities.

The subarctic North Pacific Ocean covers over 8.6 million sq km of the northernmost region of the Pacific Ocean. This vast expanse of marine habitat contains several large marginal seas including the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk. The Bering Sea (25% of the North Pacific) is the worlds third largest semi-enclosed sea with an area of 2.274 million sq km. Its southern boundary is marked by the Aleutian Island chain and its northern boundary by the Bering Strait. The Bering Sea shelf is possibly the most productive of the northern high-latitude seas. The North Pacific ecosystem is one of the richest on earth, supporting more than 450 species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks, more than 50 species of seabirds and at least 25 species of marine mammals.The North Pacific is home to some of the world's largest stocks of fish, and 56% of the entire U.S. seafood harvest is taken from this region. For example, the biomass of the walleye pollock stock in the Bering Sea is estimated to be approximately 10 million metric tons. Likewise, the largest runs of salmon in the U.S. are the Bristol Bay sockeye runs.

Fish are just one part of this extraordinary ecosystem. It also has one of the largest internationally shared marine mammal populations, the world's largest eelgrass beds and the largest international aggregation of seabirds in the world. The benthos of the North Pacific is also productive, supporting large populations of King crab, flatfish and a variety of infauna. The northern extension of the North Pacific is the crossroads for international waterfowl coming from wintering areas in Mexico and Japan, with migratory routes crossing Alaska, Canada and Russia. The wide variety of fish, shellfish, seabirds and marine mammals in coastal areas and offshore are responsible for complex ecosystem dynamics.

map of the North Pacific Ocean

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[Last updated: 2007-07-03]