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SITKA - Sitka WhaleFest, a celebration of Southeast Alaska's diverse and abundant marine mammals population, will take place Nov. 6-8 in Sitka.
WhaleFest to celebrate marine wildlife Nov. 6-8 110409 NEWS 2 CCW Staff Report SITKA - Sitka WhaleFest, a celebration of Southeast Alaska's diverse and abundant marine mammals population, will take place Nov. 6-8 in Sitka.

Photo By Libby Sterling

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Story last updated at 11/4/2009 - 12:22 pm

WhaleFest to celebrate marine wildlife Nov. 6-8

SITKA - Sitka WhaleFest, a celebration of Southeast Alaska's diverse and abundant marine mammals population, will take place Nov. 6-8 in Sitka.

Attendees may learn about the most recent studies on humpback whales and other Alaskan marine wildlife by attending slide shows, workshops and discussions. Open forum question and answer sessions follow all presentations.

WhaleFest brings world-renowned scientists to share their current research findings on North Pacific marine wildlife with local students, teachers, residents and visitors during the three-day symposium. While in Sitka, the scientists observe and learn about the local marine environment.

This year's keynote speaker is Richard Ellis, who is currently recognized as the foremost painter of marine natural history subjects in America. His paintings of whales have appeared in Audubon, National Wildlife, Australian Geographic, the Encyclopedia Britannica and numerous other national and international publications.

Other speakers include Lisa Munger, an expert in whale acoustics, Jonathan Runstadler, a faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Jo-Anne Mellish, who has studied seals and sea lions for more than a decade, Dr. Michael Castellini, associate dean for UAF's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Eric Regehr, who has studied polar bears in Alaska for about seven years, Fred Sharpe, a humpback whale expert, Flip Nicklin, a National Geographic photographer, Jan Straley, associate professor of marine biology at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka, and Jason Waite, an expert in Pinniped foraging ecology.

In addition to the festival's symposiums, WhaleFest's "Scientists in the Schools" program has brought marine mammal scientists into classrooms in the Sitka School District and, more recently, Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The content of the in-class lectures and hands-on activities changes annually. Researchers have presented a range of scientific programs from necropsies on marine mammals to fluke identification on humpback whales.

To register to attend WhaleFest, call (907) 747-7964 or visit http://www.sitkawhalefest.org/.

Events Schedule

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6

Student Marine Art Show, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Market and Silent Auction, 12 to 6 p.m.

Symposium: Gulf of Alaska, 1-4 p.m. Jan Straley, "Weaving Through the Food Web with Whales and Fish." Fred Sharpe, "Humpback Civilizations: Past, Present & Future." Jo-Anne Mellish, "Between Two Poles: Studying the Seals and Sea Lions of the Arctic & Antarctic"

Reception for Scientists & Symposium Registrants, 5:30-7 p.m., Sitka Sound Science Center

Maritime Monthly Grind, 7:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7

Whale Watching Cruise, 9-11:30 a.m.

WhaleFest 10K/5K Run/Walk, 10 a.m., Whale Park

Symposium: Bering Sea and Arctic (Moving from West to East), 1-4 p.m. Jason Waite, "Resource Partitioning Between Steller Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals on a Sympatric Rookery in the Russian Far-East." Lisa Munger, "North Pacific Right Whales off the Alaskan Coast." Eric Regehr, "Polar Bears and Climate Change: The Future of an Arctic Icon."

Fundraising Banquet, 6:30 p.m. With keynote speaker Richard Ellis-Squid, "Whales, and Other Sea Monsters"

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8

Whale Watching Cruise, 9-11:30 a.m.

Market & Silent Auction, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Student Marine Art Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Symposium: North Pacific At Large, 1-4 p.m. Jonathan Runstadler, "Influenza in the Marine Environment and Public Health." Flip Nicklin, "Among Giants: The Changing Story of Whales and Whale Research." Dr. Michael Castellini, "To a Squid, Would Humans be 'Land Monsters' That Live in a 'Bright, Dry and Dangerous Environment?'"

Sea Chantey Concert starring Don Sineti, 4:30 p.m.


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