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Education activities Review: June through July 9

July 10, 2011

Public education programs

This summer’s Discovery Labs have been well-attended, with 1,012 visitors joining us for 9 labs covering 3 topics (Alaska’s Coastal Birds, Monitoring Life in Kachemak Bay, and Alaska’s Marine Mammals) over the past 3 weeks. On July 2nd we drew our largest crowd yet for a Discovery Lab since they began in 2004 – 251 people joined us for a 2-hour Keeping an Eye on Our Ocean: Monitoring Life in Kachemak Bay lab! We’re especially excited about interest from young people (ages 11 – 15) in volunteering to help out in our summer labs – our growing crew of student volunteers includes kids from Homer, Golovin (AK), Arizona, and Texas.

We invite you to join us for a brand new lab happening next week – Halibut: Alaska’s Giant Flatfish – on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, July 13, 15, and 16 from 1 – 3 pm.

Estuary Hikes began June 21; to date these twice-weekly guided walks have been attended by 88 visitors.

25 visitors have joined Catie or Carmen for our Friday Beach Walks at Bishops Beach since they began on June 24th.

Community monitoring

14 phytoplankton monitor volunteers will be periodically taking samples at their locations in Kachemak Bay this summer. To date we have not seen any phytoplankton blooms from these samples that would indicate any toxicity in shellfish. We have noted however that, by far, our dominant phytoplankton is the Chaetoceros genus. There are 400 different species of this phytoplankter, and a NOAA lab in South Carolina is working with an electron microscope to identify just which species we have – at least 5 different species were photographed in just one drop of the sample water that we recently sent in. This genus has large spines and can be responsible for clogging the gills of fish and causing suffocation.

We also have 5 volunteers across the bay and 1 on the Homer side who are conducting invasive Green Crab trapping events to continue keeping an eye out for these non-native crustaceans. They have not yet been detected anywhere in Alaska but are moving up the West Coast over time. Results so far indicate no Green Crab present in Kachemak Bay. Interestingly, the month with the most native crab – helmet crab – in the traps by far was May.

We have temperature loggers placed in Seldovia and Homer Harbors that continually read the water temperature at a meter down. This is to compliment our more complete water quality sondes at the ferry docks at each of those locations. It will be interesting to see if the waters are warmer in the harbors, more likely places for invasives to be transported to on or in boats.

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