Introduction to Mariculture Methods course: Gain hands-on experience in mariculture and build a professional network.

by Vicki Heisser  |   

Dr. Melissa Kjelvik teaches the Introduction to Mariculture Methods course, which provides hands-on applied training in rearing shellfish, seaweed, and other marine organisms for workforce development in the mariculture sector. Over spring break, Melissa and her students traveled to Seward to work with the expert staff at Alutiiq Pride Marine Institute (APMI), a leader in Alaskan mariculture initiatives for three decades.

During the class, Carol Conant led a tour to provide an overview of the facility's active projects. The students saw several species of clams being raised, how algae are produced as a food source for shellfish, and groundbreaking experiments to advance the outplanting monitoring efforts. The day ended with a visit to Jacqueline Ramsay's lab, where she analyzed water samples to document ocean acidification across the state and other important water chemistry variables for the hatchery.

Kelp was the focus of the second day! APMI staff Briana Murphy and Michael Mahmood led beach excursions to two sites. Students engaged in a short BioBlitz competition to find and identify as many kelp species as possible. The goal was to find sorus tissue - kelp's reproductive parts used to make seed string for kelp farms. Back in the lab, students practiced sorus preparation as Briana shared insights from her own kelp farm in Resurrection Bay.

On the final day, unexpected snowfall disrupted plans for clam digging, redirecting activities to the APMI labs for clam stock measurement. This practical exercise allowed students to understand growth estimate techniques in the hatchery. The APMI staff also gathered for a Q&A session about career pathways and the mariculture industry, sharing valuable perspectives for students in the program.

During the trip, the class gained hands-on experience in mariculture and built a professional network. The APMI staff did a fantastic job organizing and leading the trip. We want to thank Maile Branson, Jacob Cohen, Carol Conant, Annette Jarosz, Michael Mahmood, Robin McKnight, Briana Murphy, and Jacqueline Ramsay for their support. We also acknowledge the Chugach Regional Resources Commission for administering and operating the APMI.