Aside from being a scenic town that’s rich in culture and heritage, Sitka is also uniquely situated between the mountains and sea. Since the Sitka coastline was originally settled, the ocean has always provided a bounty of food, tools, and lore, and here at the Sitka Sound Science Center, visitors can literally feel the creatures that swim in the Sitka Sound. In the saltwater touch tanks, feel a squishy sea cucumber or a spiny starfish skeleton, and be amazed at how soft a sea anemone feels when it gently falls on your hand. Crane your neck upward for a full skeleton of a 15-foot killer whale, or stare at the mounted, in-wall aquariums for a look at life beneath Sitka’s waters and the green, plankton-filled sound.
And, while the touch tanks are great for visitors with young children, everyone can equally appreciate the sight of dozens of leaping salmon. Outside the aquarium in the Sheldon Jackson Hatchery, species of salmon are often found leaping from the waters of the center’s fish ladder. Most of the work at this non-profit, however, takes place behind the scenes, and staff are always happy to discuss the projects, news, and education that Sitka researchers are completing each year from this small center on the coast.
The Sitka Sound Science Center is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 9am-4:30pm, and Saturday from 10am-3pm. Admission is $5, and the center is about a 15-minute walk from the downtown city center.