Spring break beach trip, Alaska style

Diving in Kasitsna BayTwenty-six students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks put a twist on the traditional spring break trip to the beach this year.

The students, who were enrolled in UAF’s Scientific Diving course, traveled to the remote Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, a cluster of buildings and a pier near the scenic southwest tip of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. There, the students used scuba diving skills practiced earlier at the UAF pool, conducted a mock rescue and assisted with research on subtidal plants and animals.

The annual class certifies students to dive on university and government research projects. Brenda Konar, a professor with the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, oversees the course. The lab is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and operated in partnership with UAF.

While Kasitsna Bay in March is no Fort Lauderdale, the trip south to the temperate coast does offer UAF students a break from Interior Alaska’s winter; thermometers in Fairbanks on the second day of spring break 2015 registered 37 degrees below zero.

Photos by Alexandra Ravelo

Participants in the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences’ 2015 Scientific Diving class gather on the dock and a boat at the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory. The flag is the “diver down flag,” which provides a warning to boat operators and others that people are in the water.

UAF undergraduate students Jordan Sanchez and Genevieve Johnson measure a healthy sea star of the species Pycnopodia helianthoides during a survey that looked for wasting disease. Sanchez and Johnson were students in UAF’s Scientific Diving class during the 2015 spring break trip to the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory.

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