Peterson Bay Field Station – Centre for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS). Homer, Alaska
On the south shore of Kachemak Bay lies the Peterson Bay Field Station. Founded in 1982, the goal of the field station is to introduce people of all ages to the coastal environments and various species of Peterson Bay and China Poot Bay. The naturalist guides at the CACS provide visitors with direct experiences with organisms within the environment and, also, the CACS looks to promote protection of the environment. With a total of nine trails that expand the length of the peninsula, visitors can view the mountains on the distance, a ghost forest, a bog, a native house site, a lagoon, and dense forest areas. Visitors are also offered the option to spend the night in yurts that are located next to the field station.
Inside the field station, on the upper floor, there is a small lab where visitors can examine the microscopic species that are present in the water of Peterson Bay. Allowing visitors to identify the microorganisms in the water actually has multiple advantages. People who have never used a microscope can learn how to use a microscope and the naturalists keep track of what types of organisms visitors stumble across. If any new species is observed in the area or if the species already on the peninsula are observed acting abnormal, the naturalists can make a note and further investigate what the problem could be. Constant observation of the species on land or in the water could lead to early identification of potential diseases which would allow for early treatment of the disease, in an attempt to preserve the species present.
Our hike took us along low tide trail, flatlands trail, and Wong trail. Along these trails, we observed many interesting spots. The ghost forest consists of trees that absorbed too much salt from the water which caused them to die. An open area with a sparse number of white, decaying trees was formed from the salt water rushing into the area during high tide. A native house site can be found at the top of a cliff that hangs over China Poot Bay. Although, in the present, a large tree takes up most of the site, the site served as a home for many native Alaskan families. The location of the house allowed the family to have ample access to a major resource, the bay.
Across the lagoon lies Otter Rock. During low tide, small tide pools are formed that leave species trapped and allow visitors to observe them. We spent time flipping over rocks and finding species such as hermit crabs, sea urchins, and sea stars. The muscle covered rock formation was slippery and hard to maneuver, but it was a dynamic example of the types of species that are present in the water of Peterson Bay.