Catch up with us – read our February Newsletter!

News at the Sitka Sound Science Center | March, 01, 2017 | by 0 Comments



Nancy Ricketts Artwork Dedication
On February 1st, we were honored to host the art dedication for Nancy Ricketts, daughter of Ed and Nan Ricketts. John Straley interviewed Nancy, who shared her childhood memories and inspirational journey with the project. Nancy created a needlepointe of a jellyfish, with Norm Cambell’s help, that was inspired by one she collected with her father when she was a child. We will be displaying this needlepoint at our Ricketts Lab here at the SSSC. Nancy also expressed her gratitude for Norm Cambell’s help in preparing her art for display.

Nancy has been highlighted in our local newspaper, the Sitka Sentinel. You can read about her here.

SSSC’s Scientist in Residency Fellow: Nick Pyenson
We recently had the priviledge of hosting Nick, the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., for almost all of February. He facilitated quite a few activities in Sitka! For one, he went out to Blatchley Middle School to teach students about the importance of 3D printing for the world of science and art. He brought along a model of a 25,000,000 year old whale skull. The actual fossil is priceless and housed at the Smithsonian. 

Nick’s Sitka Activties
3-D printing discussion with Sitka High School Future Problem Solvers Club and Blatchley Middle School Technology class
Art and natural history guest presentations at Blatchley Middle School Art/Sculpture class and Mount Edgecumbe High School Art Club
Radio interview on the Sitka Nature Show

Facility Upgrades
The aquarium and hatchery now has a back-up saltwater pump. We also have a new saltwater line running directly to the building! This has enabled us to extend our old saltwater line to a separate intake box. Having redundancies throughout the entire system helps us rest easier knowing that we have back-up security. This project was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

We have installed a back-up power generator to help in the event of power outages (a common occurrence in Sitka!). This means that the life support systems for our salmon, aquarium and research projects will continue to work when the rest of the town goes dark. 

Welcome Rachel Klein
Rachel Klein is the Assistant Director and Sitka WhaleFest Director for the Sitka Sound Science Center. She grew up in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and after earning her BA in English Literature and MA in Secondary Education from Pacific Lutheran University, she moved to Sitka to try out Southeast Alaskan life. It wasn’t long before she and her husband decided to buy a house and call Sitka home. Rachel loves to spend her time exploring the beautiful Sitka landscape, reading, cooking, and traveling whenever she can.

Welcome Amelia Greenberg

Amelia is the AmeriCorps State Volunteer at the SSSC. She grew up in New Hampshire and received her BA in English at Grinnell College in Iowa. During college she spent six months in Ecuador studying the in-country impact of globalization on the environment and cultural diversity. She recently returned from six months volunteering with an environmental NGO in Madagascar. Her interest lies in working at the intersection of science and community outreach and she loves all things outdoors!

SSSC 2017 Summer Camps Registrations are now open!
Dates, times, and registrations are now set! You can find details of each summer camp here and register for one of them here.

SSSC Aquarium Winter Hours

Spring is almost here and we’re celebrating with our annual Food Web Cruise of Sitka Sound!
From spawning herring to feeding whales, you will enjoy an exciting and up-close experience with the incredible marine food web at this time of year.
Hear from marine mammal biologists, historians, researchers, and other experts while enjoying a fresh, European-style breakfast buffet, donated by local businesses and friends of the Sitka Sound Science Center. This event is an annual fundraiser for Sitka WhaleFest, a unique science festival held each fall to celebrate the rich marine environment around us.
Aboard a catamaran from Allen Marine, we depart Crescent Harbor on Saturday, March 25th at 8:30 am and return by 11:30 am.
Tickets are $55/person and are NOW AVAILABLE our SWF website and will be available at Old Harbor Books on March 11th.
For more information, contact Sitka WhaleFest at (907) 747-8878, ext. 2 or

Save the Date: Sitka Whale Fest 2017
SWF will be held on November 3-5, 2017 at Harrigan Centennial Hall
Online Registration will begin on June 1st, 2017.  Paper Tickets will be available at the Sitka Sound Science Center beginning on October 1st and at Old Harbor Books on October 20th.
For more information, contact Sitka WhaleFest at (907) 747-8878, ext. 2 or

SSSC Board

Kitty LaBounty & Trish White

Rob Allen

Linda Waller

Justin Penny
Nancy Leclerc-Davidson
Randy Lantiegne
Steve Clayton

Happy Valentines day! Our staff spent the holiday with our true love, salmon…approximately 4.5 million salmon! February may be the shortest month in the year, but that doesn’t mean that our Science Center is short on activities.

Salmon Life Cycle Mural completed by SSSC Volunteer Laura Kaltenstein
We are so grateful for the beautiful painting that Laura has given us to be displayed within our hatchery. Laura has been an amazing support for our Science Center and we appreciate everything she does for us!

The Inside Scoop: An Interview with SSSC’s Laura Kaltenstein

How long have you lived in Sitka and what brought you here?
I’ve been in Sitka for 20 years. I grew up in Homer, lived in other western states and am very happy I came back to coastal Alaska.

What inspires you as an artist?
The beautiful colors, patterns and light found in nature. I usually do very detailed work, so as I work, I look closely at the subjects, and become more interested in learning about them. The more I learn about them the more fascinated I am about the way they move and live in their environment.

How did you become a volunteer at the Science Center?
I took a “docent” class offered by the science center two years ago, just wanting to learn more, help out, and spend more time there. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. There are new sea creatures, new projects, and people there all the time. So I took the class again. It’s amazing how much goes on or through that building, that you might not be aware of from just walking in for a visit.  

What volunteer roles have you had or what kinds of projects have you worked on with us?
I’ve helped out with tours, special events, tended the front desk, done weekly feedings and cleanings, and have done just one beach debris cleanup, but always wish I had more time to be involved. I have art work in the gift shop in the summer and a couple of pieces in the aquarium.

What do you like about being at the Science Center?
The Science Center is such a great place for education. Staff spends time in the schools, doing summer camps, and brings students to the center for classes and field trips. It’s a great addition to Sitka for summer visitors to learn about the ocean. Visitors love to see huge whales and bears, but it’s also so important for them to see and learn about the whole environment and how it all works together. I lead hikes in summer and always tell visitors to stop in even if it’s just for a quick look at the touch tables and aquarium so they can see the smaller sea life in this area. A visit to coastal Alaska would be lacking without seeing and learning a little about what’s under their cruise ship. I like being part of helping them to see and understand it better.

Alaska Forum on the Environment Presentation

Our very own Science Educator, Kristina Tirman, attended the Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE), a statewide gathering of environmental professionals from government agencies, non-profit and for-profit businesses, community leaders, Alaskan youth, conservationists, biologists and community elders.
Kristina provided an update on SSSC’s Bering Sea Community-Based Marine Debris projects and introduced our local contractors from two Bering Sea communities – Port Heiden and St. Lawrence Island. Scott Anderson and Melissa O’Domin reported on the work on Port Heiden and Fred Jay Ivanoffgave gave a report on St Lawrence Island activity.
SSSC has been involved in NOAA and State of Alaska funded Marine Debris monitoring, cleanups, and outreach since 2008 and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to clean our local beaches and waters.

Hatchery and Facility Happenings
It’s been a busy month at the hatchery!  Ever wonder what that floating structure is right off the coast of the Science Center? That is our net-pen where we introduce the young salmon to salt water and keep them safe before they develop enough to be sent out into the wild, a process known as out-migration. A lot of preparation and work goes into setting up for the out-migration of the juvenile (immature) salmon. An intense storm swept our buoy and anchor off the net-pens just before we were planning on starting out-migration. Thankfully Port Armstrong hatchery let us borrow one of theirs! We would also like to thank Davey Castle on the Eyak for delivering and setting the new one!

Our pink salmon are in the saltwater and are eating well. We are currently in the process of sending out our chum salmon!  Our coho salmon have all hatched and will be spending the next couple of months living off their yolk sacs. Our Hatchery crew is riding out 4 times a day to feed and keep our salmon happy… talk about fish love. 

2017 Alaska Fish Culture Conference

NSRAA hosted an exciting fish culture conference Jan 23 – 27th, where we were given the opportunity to become a part of it! We hosted a reception for the participants, gave a tour and presentation, and our Fish Culturist,  Jarrod, participated in fish pathology training. These conferences are always a good opportunity for folks in the field to share ideas, challenges and experiences in the field of aquaculture!

Behind the Scenes
We held yet another Behind the Scenes program on February 22nd. The theme was Out-migration of Salmon. We provided an in-depth tour of the salmon incubation room and our nursery! During this tour, our staff gave details of each step taken during out-migration (ponding). You don’t want to miss out on this program! We post the event dates on our Facebook page, so ‘like’ us and check it out!

Education Programs

Pacific High School Elective: Aquaculture 2 – The Rearing of Salmon
Although school was out for two of the four scheduled classes this month, students and staff packed a lot in to the time they had. One of our sessions covered the ponding or out-migration process of salmon in a hatchery. Our staff took the kids out to our net-pens to feed our salmon. We found that there were a few extra minutes open at the end of the feeding…why not whale watch to pass by the time!

Fab Friday – ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicles)

If you visit the Science Center on Friday afternoons, you may hear laughter and a swarm of activity. This is from intrigued FAB Friday students experimenting with their new engineering and electrical wiring skills. The students have made great progress creating ROV’s from the simple materials provided. This program has been, and will continue to be, an astounding success thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Science Center departments, Blatchley Middle School, and our wonderful volunteer, Scott Helfrich!

For more information on any of these Education programs, contact SSSC’s Science Education Coordinator Kristina Tirman at (907) 747-8878, ext 11 or

When you give to the SSSC, you are helping the scientific and education mission that explores the Sitka Sound Ecosystems. The SSSC relies on funding support from foundations, grants, corporations and individuals.  Please also remember the SSSC in your will.  The SSSC is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and contributions are deductible to the extent allowed by the IRS.


SSSC Online Store
Get your Science Center mugs, apparel, decor, and more!







The Sitka Sound Science Center, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, is dedicated to increasing understanding and awareness of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of Alaska through education and research.  Based in the only full-service community on the outer coast of Southeast Alaska, the SSSC is uniquely qualified to provide unparalleled access for research in Alaska.  Our vision is to build on Sitka’s legacy and potential as an education and scientific community, facilitating collaborative research with scientists, industry, government, and community.

Copyright © 2017 Sitka Sound Science Center, All Rights Reserved.

Our mailing address is:
834 Lincoln Street
Sitka, Alaska 99835
Phone:  (907) 747-8878

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences