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Kodiak Fisheries Research Center shares research at open house

The Kodiak Fisheries Research Center on Near Island is the largest laboratory facility in the community. The multi-agency laboratory studies various species harvested by commercial fishermen and held an open house on June 5 with several scientists displaying their research.

Alix Laferriere is the deputy director of the Kodiak Lab. She said the team timed it with the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council meetings, which started June 3 and ended June 11.

“I think it’s really nice for the council members to take a look at what we do in terms of research in the lab,” she said.

But it wasn’t just people from the council meetings – plenty of families came to learn about aquatic animals. Laferriere said there were plenty of booths for attendees to explore.

“There’s a lot of information about crab life stages, there’s crab dissections going on, there’s crab growth so the kids can look into microscopes, or the adults for that matter, and we’re also extracting ear bones from fish,” she said.

Erin Fedewa, a research fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, led a booth teaching how to estimate fish ages through their ear bones, or otoliths. She said it's the first time the center has hosted such a large event.

“We advertised the event to both fisheries managers and stakeholders at that meeting, as well as the general public,” Fedewa said. “It’s sort of a really interesting audience in terms of catering a lot of the stations towards families, but then also showcasing our research that informs management.”

Kids had a chance to play with plants and animals in the research center’s touch tank and saltwater lab. Some even held king crabs about as big as the children themselves as their parents took pictures.

One of the headline events was a salmon shark dissection in the back of the lab. Emily Ryznar, another NOAA research fisheries biologist, was one of the dissection leads.

“It’s really fun to be able to do this for the community and get everybody involved,” Ryzner said. “We had lots of kids touching the different organs and stuff so that was cool.”

The kids and scientists discovered that the shark was a female about five feet long and its stomach was mostly empty but had a few squid beaks and fish eyes.

Ryznar said they plan to host another shark dissection at the Coast Guard Base next month.