Nuniaq Marine Science Camp
AMCC coordinated a week-long marine science field study for youth in August 2006 in partnernship with the Native Village of Old Harbor. A short skiff ride from Old Harbor, Nuniaq Marine Science Camp is situated in a mosaic of rich intertidal reefs, eelgrass meadows and clam beds. On these shores of Sitkalidak Island, local youth explored marine life from near shore waters to the deep sea.
Led by marine biologist Michelle Ridgway, the team launched expeditions to observe, photograph and, in some cases, collect organisms from the diverse marine habitats near camp. The young investigators spent long hours working to identify creatures using reference guides and taxonomic keys, with the aid of a hand lens and a microscope. Later in the week, they explored deep sea habitats with an underwater video camera attached to a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). By the end of camp, the Nuniaq team had identified more than 125 marine species in the Old Harbor vicinity. Further analysis of specimens, photographs and underwater video footage showed that the student team had encountered over 180 species!
Tuning their lives to the rhythms of the tides and adjusting to the rigors of scientific endeavor seemed a small price to pay as each new day yielded the discovery of new species and exciting observations of creatures’ behavior. The team’s stamina and vigor was fueled not only by their youthful enthusiasm, but also by engagement with visiting elders, family, community and caring camp staff members during evening fish dinners noisy with the sharing of each day’s adventures. Daily banyas (steam baths) marked the end of a hard day’s field work and impromptu performances from the Alutiiq dancers provided more than one evening’s entertainment.
Nuniaq Marine Science Camp was funded through grants from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Old Harbor Native Corporation, Rasmuson Foundation and Alaska Marine Conservation Council.