Southeast residents learn about ocean acidification at Petersburg festival

Petersburg, a fishing community of 2,800, is located in southeast Alaska. Photo: State of Alaska

On Thursday Sept 7, the 10th annual Rainforest Festival in Petersburg kicked off with a keynote address on ocean acidification.  Amanda Kelley, the co-director of the Ocean Acidification Research Center (OARC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, led an audience of 50 through the nuts and bolts of ocean acidification, as well as current trends in Alaska and the known effects of ocean acidification on species. Amanda also discussed the amount of information we have yet to learn, and some of the monitoring efforts underway to close the gaps. Questions from the audience ranged from seafood safety concerns to the impact of freshwater and glacial melt on water corrosivity.

“We were really happy to have someone come talk to us about what we know (or maybe more accurately, what we don’t know) about how OA will impact the species our community depends on for food and our livelihoods,” said festival organizer and Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program agent Sunny Rice. “People are hearing all kinds of different things from so many different sources, it was nice to hear from an expert.”

UAF researcher Amanda Kelley speaks to residents during a keynote at the annual Rainforest Festival. Photo: Sunny Rice

Amanda’s visit was part of an effort by the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network to connect researchers with coastal residents directly.  At the end of her stay, there was discussion about locating a SeaFET sensor near the community to measure pH year-round.

This fall, the State Ferry M/V Columbia, newly installed with an underway ocean acidification monitoring system, will be transiting through waters near Petersburg during its weekly 1,600km run between Bellingham and Skagway. The Alaska Ocean Acidification Network will be making an effort to inform southeast Alaska communities about the research and findings of this project.

If you are interested in hosting an ocean acidification presentation in your community, contact Darcy at

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