Alaska SeaLife Center news

Posted: Monday, July 17, 2000

Invitational to raise needed funds

Rep. Don Young joined other members on the 160th U.S. Congress and business people throughout the United States in Seward during the Alaska SeaLife Center Invitational. The invitational is designed to showcase the world-class research facility and generate at least $100,000 for the center's operation budget.

Participants fished and toured Resurrection Bay and met with researchers at the center.

The invitational, designed to generate awareness and funding for the center, provides a great opportunity to showcase the center and the beauty of the Kenai Peninsula.

Proceeds from the Invitational support the Center's mission of understanding and maintaining the integrity of the marine ecosystem of Alaska through research, rehabilitation and public education, including nearly $2 million worth of marine research now under way at the center.

Murre chick thriving in exhibit

The first baby murre is alive and well in the far west corner of the diving bird habitat behind a tall tree. Currently there is a camera focused on the family, which can be viewed on the TV monitor in the upstairs Rugged Coast Gallery. The center has several more eggs, which staff hope will hatch out soon.

Salmon are coming

Pink salmon have been spotted in the vicinity of Thumbs Cove in Resurrection Bay. This is the center's early warning sign for the expected return up the center's fish pass and into the outdoor laboratory. The pass is operating and flowing fresh water from the same source as the fish were imprinted on as fry. The return of the salmon to the center is expected to begin in August.

The pink salmon are part of a large scale project that addresses the important genetic issues related to the restoration and monitoring of pink salmon populations after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Investigators for the University of Montana are using these fish as part of an ongoing research project designed to understand the fundamental population biology and genetics of the salmon.

Fishers who happen to catch a pink salmon that is missing an adipose fin (right above the tail) could win $1,000. To be entered, the fisher needs to turn the fish into one of the center's collection sites and their name will be entered in the $1,000 drawing conducted at the end of September.

For more information, call the center at (907) 224-6312 or (800) 224-2525.

Research projects on tap

Three members of the Alaska SeaLife Center research team recently returned from a project to brand Stellar sea lion pups at rookeries on Marmot and Sugarloaf islands. Science Director Shannon Atkinson, veterinary technician Millie Gray and visiting scientist Vladimir Burkanov traveled to the rookeries with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The project included anesthetizing Stellar pups, counting, weighing, measuring and drawing blood from some and banding them. This is part of a five-year project that will help scientists study migration habits, mortality rates and more.

Another research project slated to begin in September is the Harlequin duck study. The center is expecting 21 ducks as part of an Exxon Valdez oil spill study. The birds will be at the center until March 2001, at which time they will be released back into the wild.

The EVOS halibut telemetry project is expected to begin in August. This project will look at the behavioral and physiological effects of pop-up satellite telemetry devices on Pacific halibut.

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