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Items:  AFSC Scientists Reach out to the Community Through Education, Celebration, and Public Awareness

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Whale Fest Kodiak and ComFish Alaska

event activity
Kodiak Laboratory Director Robert Foy dissects a salmon shark as part of the Kodiak community's annual Whale Fest event.  Photo by Jan Haaga.

The AFSC's Kodiak Laboratory is committed to increasing public awareness of environmental and fisheries issues and NOAA's mission and research.

Outreach activities at the Kodiak Laboratory, coordinated by research fishery biologist Jan Haaga, include giving tours of the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center Seawater Facility, providing support to the Ocean Science Discovery Lab, visiting K-12 classrooms, leading field trips, and participating in community events.

Two of these events, Whale Fest Kodiak and ComFish Alaska, take place annually in the spring and provide opportunities for local residents and visitors to learn about research programs at the Kodiak Lab as well as other research programs at the AFSC.

Whale Fest ( is a 10-day event that celebrates the return of gray whales to Alaskan waters. Conceived in 1996 by former NMFS fishery biologist Susan Payne, Whale Fest has grown into a major community affair. Staff from the Kodiak Laboratory have participated in all aspects of the event, including giving presentations, providing speakers, and leading whale-watching tours. In past years, staff from the AFSC's National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle have come to Kodiak to present information on marine mammal research in Alaska.

This year, Kodiak Laboratory Director Robert Foy gave a presentation on the biology and life history of large sharks and conducted a dissection of a 6-ft salmon shark. This event has proven very popular with all age groups. This year's audience included approximately 120 children and adults.

ComFish Alaska is Alaska's largest and longest running fisheries trade show, sponsored each year by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce ( NOAA Fisheries Service has participated in the show since it began in 1980 and has provided speakers for the seminars and booths in the trade show arena. The NMFS Alaska Regional Office, NMFS Enforcement, and NOAA Weather Service also staff booths at the event, making this a valuable venue in Kodiak for the public to learn about NOAA's mission and projects.

At the booth this year, Kodiak Laboratory staff maintained live displays of juvenile flatfish, juvenile and larval crab, displayed photographs and posters, and handed out informational pamphlets, flyers, and posters. The 3-day event was attended by an estimated 3,000 visitors from Kodiak and around the country.

By Jan Haaga

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