Fifth annual PWS Natural History Symposium set for May 16

An in-person and virtual format is planned for the fifth annual Prince William Sound Natural History Symposium in Whittier on May 16. It is organized by the Girdwood-based Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation, a nonprofit entity dedicated to keeping the area healthy, clean, and wild.

The free, one-day event will be preceded on May 15 by a private tour of Prince William Sound, guided by local experts, up Blackstone Bay to see sheer cliff walls and waterfalls enroute to the Beloit and Blackstone tidewater glaciers and a rookery where thousands of birds are nesting and raising their young. Participants will step ashore to experience the natural geology of the glacier-carved fjord and learn about common plants found in the area, and the vessel captain will assist in a plankton tow while underway. Tickets for the vessel trip are $130 each. They may be booked by calling 907-694-5887 and referencing the PWS Natural History Symposium.

Symposium sponsors said the 4.5-hour tour is a perfect experience for guides and outdoor educators new to Prince William Sound and those looking to brush up on their knowledge in preparation for the summer tourism season. The tour will leave Whittier at 1 p.m. on May 15.

Prince William Sound is a vast inland sea ringed by glacial peaks of the Chugach Mountains and includes 3,500 miles of coastline, with narrow glacial fiords, remote bays and hundreds of islands, all offering adventure and exploration. The ocean waters are fed by nutrients from hundreds of mountain streams and constantly mixed by ocean currents to support abundant populations of fish and marine mammals including salmon, halibut, sea otters, and whales.

The temperate rainforest is home to a range of wildlife that includes bears, deer, moose, wolverine and much more.

Recordings of past Prince William Sound Natural History symposiums are online at