Environmental research efforts are keeping steady pace with economic and technological expansion in the Arctic. Among the new Arctic environmental projects is a 5-year survey of the continental shelf of the Bering Sea. Under the auspices of the National Science Foundation's Division of Polar Programs, the Probes (Processes and Resources of the Bering Sea Shelf) program concentrates on a 26,000-km2 area of the Bering Sea Shelf that includes one of the world's largest marine populations and one of the largest bird populations per unit area.
The 53% of the Bering Sea that is continental slope and shelf is one of the world's best examples of a region where fish, birds, and mammals reproduce rapidly. This has puzzled some biologists because there do not seem to be enough smaller organisms to support the upper segments of the food chain.