In The Spotlight: WhaleFest & SSSC

Sitka WhaleFest brings together science education and research for a weekend-long celebration of marine life.

By Erin Minh Iwamoto, SSSC Communications Manager

Sitka WhaleFest brings together science education and research for a weekend-long celebration of marine life. The heart of WhaleFest is the three-day science symposium, where world-renowned scientists share their research on a range of subjects.

At this community-based festival, those interested in our oceans get to meet and interact with a passionate and diverse group of speakers. “How It’s Made: Courting, Babies, & Growth” is the 2022 theme. Each day speakers explore how different aquatic creatures date, mate, and parent in the Pacific waters. Join us this November 3-6 for a weekend of science, celebration and fun!

Sitka High School students in Stacy Golden’s field science class made a visit to UAS Sitka for a special (October 20) mariculture class with Angie Bowers. Instead of their usual salmon-centric itinerary, (this) lesson was all about bull kelp. Students learned how to collect and count the kelp spores which will be incubated on lines and then placed back in the ocean to grow. Once the spring hits, they’ll be able to harvest the kelp around the same time they get to release their salmon!

Students from communities across Alaska attend WhaleFest to explore the science in our own backyard: Sitka Sound. The Sitka Sound Science Center (SSSC), in collaboration with the University of Alaska Southeast, offers educational opportunities for students of all ages – both at WhaleFest and through year-round partnerships.

This year, our programming involves hands-on learning from Science Symposium speakers and innovative student workshops, including: a new weather monitoring technology, marine mammal necropsy, ocean bowl trivia, fish sampling, and an ROV** building competition!

We encourage local and visiting students to tap into their creative side by participating in the Student Art Show and Photography Contest. This year’s art show features middle and high school student art projects. The top 12 Photography Contest finalists will be unveiled at the art show and featured in the 2023 SSSC Calendar.

Sitka WhaleFest is pleased to announce the return of our annual Marketplace and Café, taking place at Harrigan Centennial Hall! Get started on holiday shopping by supporting local businesses, artists, and nonprofits. Daily food vendors will be featured the whole weekend. This year’s Silent Auction is also held at Centennial Hall and is made possible by generous community donations.

Sitka WhaleFest is a program of the Sitka Sound Science Center. We thank our sponsors, volunteers, and the broader community of Sitka for supporting this event for 26 years! For more information and how to register, please visit our website at

The Sitka Sound Science Center is dedicated to increasing understanding and awareness of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of Alaska through education and research. Our vision is to build on Sitka’s legacy and potential as an educational and scientific community. To learn more, follow @sitkascience on social media or visit

**A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is an unoccupied underwater robot that is connected to a ship by a series of cables. These cables transmit command and control signals between the operator and the ROV, allowing remote navigation of the vehicle (per



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