Sitka WhaleFest

The Annual Sitka WhaleFest is a science symposium for everyone! The event hosts a unique science symposium blending local knowledge and scientific inquiry concerning the rich marine environment of the North Pacific. The festival includes many community and cultural activities such as the science symposium lectures, interactive student sessions, marine wildlife cruises with scientist, a marine themed artisan market, music, local foods, a banquet, art and a fun run/walk.

Click here for Sitka WhaleFest website

Between Pacific Tides

Revisiting historical surveys of Sitka through Ricketts, Calvin and Ahlgen. The North Pacific Research Board funded this two year project which was successfully completed in June 2013. This Community Involvement project  improved the understanding of North Pacific marine ecosystem dynamics by re-establishing intertidal surveys initiated in 1932 and 1996 in Sitka Sound. The authors of “Between Pacific Tides”, Jack Calvin and Edward Ricketts, studied littoral biology 80 years ago, from Northern Baja to Sitka, the home of Calvin. During these surveys, visionary ecological paradigms were explored. These seminal thinkers formulated an ecological holism – the idea of the interrelatedness of animals to each other and their environment. They organized the Pacific littoral according to habitat, versus, the then-prevalent taxonomical organization common to scientific texts. Dr. Molly Ahlgren, in 1996, began using the only intact intertidal area in downtown Sitka as an outdoor classroom, conducting intertidal surveys adjacent to the Science Center until her untimely death in 2004. This project reestablished the 1932 and 1996 surveys through community-based, citizen science monitoring using nationally recognized MARINe protocols. The project  examined the littoral biology in the Sitka area from four sites to 1) document the current intertidal communities in these historic survey sites 2) develop biological indices (scientifically based, repeatable) to evaluate long-term influences upon intertidal communities from reintroduction, climate change and coastal development and 3) engage the community in current scientific practices, within a historical context, to reset these historic legacies and inform residents and students of the importance Sitka has and continues to play in the history and study of marine biology in the North Pacific. Data collected from project click here   / Listen to an Encounters North Radio segment on the project click here


A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organism as possible. Each year the Sitka Sound Science Center helps, from the tops of the mountains to the ocean, during BioBlitz Sitka.

Encounters: Radio Experiences in the North

This praised public radio show began right here in Sitka as a project by long time Sitkan Richard Nelson.  The program is produced by SSSC’s very own Executive Director, Lisa Busch.  “In an ever increasingly urban world, Encounters: Experiences in the North brings the sounds of the northern wild to the radio for a rare, entertaining and informative weekly program.”  The episode topics are carefully investigated and developed based on scientific research. 

To learn more, check out the Encounters website


Matter of Fact, a radio module playing on Sitka’s own Raven Radio, is a unique collaboration between the Science Center and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska with the goal of teaching the public more about the Tlingit language and the science of Sitka.  Matter of Fact features Sitka Native Education Program’s Chuck Miller giving listeners the English and Tlingit name for some of the the fascinating animals that live in and around Sitka, followed by the Science Center’s Chantal Cough-Schulze and Andrea Pitz telling listeners interesting facts about those animals.  Tune in to learn a little more about the science of the world around you and add to your Tlingit vocabulary!

Curious about how to say common Sitka animal names in Tlingit?  Listen below as Chuck translates the names.  Included in italics next to the Tlingit word are the phonetics of the words in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Abalone – Gunx̱aa (kunχa:)

Baby Clams – Dzéex’w (t͡si:x’w)

Barnacle – S’ook (s’u:kʰ)

Black Cod – Ishḵeen (ɪʃqʰi:n)

Brown Bear – Xóots (xu:t͡sʰ)

Bullhead (little, that is found under beach rocks) – Té tayee tlóox̱u (tʰe tʰaji: tʰɫu:χu)

Chiton – Shaaw (ʃa:w)

Dog (Chum) Salmon – Téel’ (tʰí:ɫ’)

Clam – Gáal’ (ka:ɫ)

Clams too tiny to eat – Dzóox’ (t͡su:x’)

Cockle – Yalooleit (jaɫʰu:ɫʰe:tʰ)

Coral -Hintakx’úxi (hɪntʰakʰx’ʊxɪ)

Dungeness Crab – S’áaw (s’a:w)

Eel – Lóot’ (ɫʰu:t’)

Eulachon – Saak (sa:kʰ)

Fish Scales  – A kajeiG̱í (a kʰat͡ʃe:qi)

Flounder – Dzánti (t͡santɪ)

Giant Clam – x̱éet’ (χi:t’)

Grayling – T’ási (t’asɪ)

Halibut – Cháatl (t͡ʃʰa:t͡ɬ)

Herring – Yaaw (ja:w)

Killer Whale – Kéet (kʰi:tʰ)

King Salmon – T’á (t’a)

Limpet – Yéil ts’áaxu (je:ɫʰ  t͡s’a:xu)

Lingcod – S’áax̱’ (s’a:χ’)

Mussel – Yaak (ja:kʰ)

Needlefish – Tooḵ (tʰu:qʰ)

Octopus – Náaḵw (na:qʰᵚ)

Ratfish – G̱eey kanax̱ ḵutées’ (qi:j kʰanaχ qʰutʰí:s’)

Razor Clam – ḵ’alkátsk (q’aɫʰkʰat͡sʰkʰ)

Salmon – x̱áat (χa:tʰ)

Salmon Creek – x̱áat héeni (χa:tʰ hí:nɪ)

Sculpin – Wéix̱’ (we:χ’)

Starry Flounder – Wankashxéet (wankʰaʃxi:tʰ)