At the Prince William Sound Science Center, Alysha Cypher looks through oil samples taken from Sound after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Photo by By Bella Fertel for The Cordova Times

Officials with the Prince William Sound Science Center (PWSSC) on Tuesday issued updates on their fall fundraising season, plus an update on the center’s mariculture hatchery, which is now growing sugar and ribbon kelp for Prince William Sound-based farmers and research. 

Items for the upcoming auction include round trip vouchers on Alaska Airlines, a Columbia Glacier cruise, jewelry, art, a nature journaling kit for children, an iPad Pro, and a Cuisinart 3-in-1 Pizza Oven Plus. Donations are still being accepted at the same website. 

The auction opens at noon on Sunday, Oct. 15, and runs through 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. That same day PWSSC is hosting an open house with light refreshments, a guided tour of the new facility, and a view of auction items before bidding closes. 

The center also offered an update in its newsletter, the Breakwater, on its progress with its mariculture hatchery. The nursery stage is necessary to prevent other species from growing on farms and requires six to eight weeks of growth. 

Center officials said the nursery stage began with collecting fertile kelp tissue in Simpson Bay on Sept. 1. 

 After bringing tissue back to the Science Center, PWSSC employees stimulated the tissue to release spores and allowed those spores to settle onto thin twine.  


After three weeks, employees said they can see young sporophytes (early life stage kelp) growing. In mid- to late-October the young kelp (when it reaches about two millimeters in length) will be ready to go to the farmers and be out planted onto farms in eastern PWS.  

Farmers will monitor the kelp as it grows until they harvest it in April. Currently, most farms sell their kelp for food-grade products, but that will change as other markets in hygiene products, fertilizer, cattle feed, and biofuel come on line. 

The newsletter also reported that the board of the Oil Spill Recovery Institute in Cordova has adopted its work plan for fiscal year 2024. The plan is to seek reports about existing information of hydrocarbon levels in subsistence foods and a synthesis of information regarding in-situ degradation of oil in Arctic environments. OSRI is looking to support plans for experimental oil releases off Canada, improving oil detection in broken ice and a study of potential places of refuge from the Aleutians into the Arctic. It will continue to support the PWSSC Headwaters to Ocean education program and offer a grade research fellowship.