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Alaska Fly Fishers Science Fair Scholarship

Over 380 projects from almost 70 schools throughout Alaska were represented at the March 2014 Alaska State Science Fair in Anchorage. Alaska Fly Fishers grants awards annually to projects focusing on fisheries related topics; $100 cash award winners are selected by a panel of judges from the AFF.

Alaska Fly Fisher Science Fair 2014 Recipients

Monique MarcAurele: Monique is a sixth grader at Aquarian Charter School and is a past winner of an AFF Science Fair Award. Her project for 2014 was titled “Frankenfish or Wonderfish.” This year’s project looked at the benefits and risks associated with raising genetically modified salmon. Monique concluded the risks to the ecosystem and potentially to humans far outweighed the expected benefits.

Taylor DeanTaylor is a senior at Palmer High School. Taylor’s project was titled “Potential Acidification in Prince William Sound, ALaska; Year 3 of a 4 Year Study.” Taylor has been taking pH measurements at selected points throughout Prince William Sound over a 3 year period. Over this period she has seen a consistent drop in pH in only one location. That is Fox Farm Bay near the Gulf of Alaska. She plans to continue her monitoring project this summer and [possibly in the future as she plans to attend the University of Fairbanks which has a strong marine biology program.

Alicia AistAlicia was one of the Grand Prize winners of the Alaska State Fair for her project “Ichthyophonous vs. Proteins Should we be eating this fish?” Just being able to pronounce Ichthyophonous is an accomplishment. Ichthyophonous a genus of parasites found in fish and in particular halibut. Almost 77% of halibut in Prince William Sound have the parasites. Unpublished data indicate the infection rate is about 30% in Cook Inlet. Previous research has confirmed that the parasite does not harm people. Alicia’s study was focused on how the parasite affected the quality of the fish protein. Alicia did experiments on 18 halibut. 9 of the specimens had the parasite and 9 samples did not. She took samples from the liver and spleens of these fish to determine if there was any impact on the protein content of the parasite infected fish. She found minimal protein differences in the protein content of the positive and negative fish. She is recommending further study of muscle tissue to perform a closer look at the nutritional value of infected fish.

Taylor SeitzTaylor was also a Grand Prize winner of the Science Fair. Taylor’s project was titled “Lateral Flow Test Design to Detect the Presence of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning”. There have been no simple tests to determine if ocean coastline waters contain PSP. Taylor’s project focused on developing a simplified method of identifying the toxins associated with Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. Initial attempts at developing a simple chemical test were unsuccessful, but she has now developed a user friendly lateral flow test which readily identifies saxitoxin the main neurotoxin causing the symptoms of PSP. The ability to use this test will be of benefit to many of the small subsistence fisheries throughout the state.

Alaska Fly Fishers, 200 W 34th Ave, Suite 1233, Anchorage, AK 99503

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