Whale Fest Kodiak Underway



Bob Foy of NOAA Fisheries explained the parts of a squid to about 100 people who attended the shark presentation and squid dissection on Sunday as part of Whale Fest Kodiak. At least 60 were children under 12. Photo by Cheryl Nugent

Erik Wander/KMXT

The 13th annual Whale Fest Kodiak, a 10-day long celebration of the return of Eastern Pacific Gray Whales to Alaskan waters, kicked off last week. Several events took place over the weekend, but many are still to come.

The annual festival opened last week with a talk at the Alutiiq Museum on the history of marine mammal hunting. Several events for children and families were held over the weekend, including a harbor walking tour, whale watching at Narrow Cape and a large squid dissection demonstration. However, many events remain in the coming week, including a documentary film on climate change and the ocean, an Alaska ocean film festival and another harbor walking tour. There will also be talks on the marine mammals of Kodiak and NOAA’s Marine Observer Program. Artist Bruce Nelson, who was commissioned by the Kodiak Gray Whale Project to create three new Gray Whale prints, will also have a print signing. Alutiiq Museum executive director Sven Haakanson said Whale Fest welcomes back the whales while promoting awareness of the traditional importance of whales to the inhabitants of Kodiak.

(Haakanson 1 52 sec. "It’s bringing an awareness … the people here on the island.")

The festival was founded by Susan Paine in 1996. Volunteer organizer Cheryl Nugent has been involved with the festival since 1998, when Paine inspired her to take part. Nugent has been helping organize the event every year since.

(Nugent 1 27 sec. "In 98, I was taking … like a dream come true for me.")

Nugent said the aim of the festival is to welcome the whales back to Kodiak. She said Kodiak occupies a unique spot along the whales’ migratory path from the Baja Penninsula to the Arctic Ocean, which occurs at this time each year. She said people in Kodiak are fortunate to be able to see the whales from land, unlike most other parts locations in Alaska.

(Nugent 2 52 sec. "Every year, Eastern welcomes them back every year.")

Nugent said people have already begun spotting migrating whales, but that full migration is still a week or so away. She also said there is a rogue pod of whales that appears to stay in Kodiak waters all year and not continue on the migration.

(Nugent 3 32 sec. "They get into full migration … they stay here year round.")

All Whale Fest events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the Kodiak Maritime Museum’s fundraising dinner on May 9th. Tickets for the dinner are 50 dollars per person, with a portion of the proceeds going to Whale Fest. For more information on the festival and its upcoming events, as well as daily updates on whale sightings in the area, visit our web site at kmxt dot org. (www.whalefestkodiak.com).

I’m Erik Wander.


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