Jamie Hoy, a Montana State University student who is participating in the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage’s, “Semester by the Bay” program, gives a presentation on orca whales at the Marine Mammal Biology Symposium on Friday, Nov. 4 in Homer. (Photo by Charlie Menke / Homer News)

Jamie Hoy, a Montana State University student who is participating in the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage’s, “Semester by the Bay” program, gives a presentation on orca whales at the Marine Mammal Biology Symposium on Friday, Nov. 4 in Homer. (Photo by Charlie Menke / Homer News)

Semester by the Bay students present work

A room full of young minds all interested in solving the same problems, and loving the same parts of nature, is sure to produce exciting work.

At this year’s Marine Mammal Biology Symposium, exactly this occurred. Students and community members gathered in the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage, last Friday to share research about different types of marine mammals and the conservation efforts necessary to protect them.

Jamie Hoy, a Colorado-born senior joining Alaska from Montana State University, was one of the first presenters of the day. Hoy presented on orca whales.

As she described hunting strategies, social dynamic, and population types the lecture room, and Zoom audience, watched on. Just like the other presenters, Hoy appeared knowledgable and passionate about her studies.

Hoy said she applied for the program “on a whim.”

She has been interested in marine biology for a long time, but with Montana being a land-locked state never had a ripe opportunity to delve deeper with personal encounters. She and her classmates have gone on multiple field trips, such as to the Kenai Fjords for whale watching, which Hoy described as, “so much fun and eye-opening.”

Before coming she had known she liked Alaska for its beauty, but was surprised by the “artsy” community of Homer and the meaningful personal relationships she has been able to develop with the professors of the campus.

Debbie Boege Tobin PhD, one of the lead professors for the Marine Biology program, was present at the symposium. Tobin and others, including Marc Webber M.A. and Lee Post, aka “the Boneman,” have been teaching this fall and for many other fall semesters before this.

The Semester by the Bay fall program has been provided for 12 years now, according to Tobin. She said that this semester the professors and record-high 18 students have had some “fantastic experiences.”

She provided an anecdote of how one day, during a regular two-hour lecture at the Kachemak Bay Campus, she received an alert from a group chat on her phone filled with avid whale watchers that some humpbacks had been spotted by Land’s End Resort. They paused the lecture and all hopped in the vans, racing to the tip of the Spit and getting the chance to observe humpback whales, Stellar sea lions and harbor seals.

The ability to have these opportunities “right out the back-door” is a highlight of the program, said Tobin.

Additionally, she mentioned how the community has been extremely supportive of the program throughout its institution.

There are many local organizations which provide internship opportunities to the students that come to visit Homer, and plenty of local leaders within the marine biology field that stick close in order to provide some guidance and affirmation.

Besides the experiential learning courses where students are able to go on field trips to collect data and observe in real-time, and the more conventional lecture courses, the Semester by the Bay program also holds a Marine Skeleton Articulation course taught by the Boneman.

Overall, the students are given a unique opportunity by studying here.

“Homer is in rarified air,” said Hoy via text. “Where else can you articulate a beluga skeleton one day and observe sea otter behaviors in the bay the next?”

More in News

A seal pup rescued from the Kenai Beach is in the care of the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program in Seward, Alaska, on June 6, 2024. (Photo provided by Alaska SeaLife Center)
2nd seal pup rescued in Kenai, ASLC now caring for 4

A second newborn seal was rescued on Kenai Beach and admitted by… Continue reading

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, right, slices and serves fresh watermelon during North Peninsula Recreation Service Area’s Family Fun in the Midnight Sun at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center in Nikiski, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
North Peninsula Rec holds annual summer celebration

Attractions at this year’s event included carnival games, food trucks, field games, face painting, live music and demonstrations

The Blood Bank of Alaska’s new Kenai Peninsula center is seen in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Blood Bank relaunches permanent center on Kenai Peninsula

The new location joins others in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla

Nathan Nelson directs a kite flying dozens of feet up in the sky above Millennium Square in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai Kite Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Sun, wind, friends and kites

Kiters both experienced and novice gather for Kenai festival

Marchers walk from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Pride in the Park, other Pride celebrations set for Saturday

The event starts with the Two-Spirit March, which meets at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex at 11:30 a.m.

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward OKs around $362,000 in purchases for Electric Department material

A pair of resolutions were included and passed within the consent agenda

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnets for commercial setnet fishers given emergency approval by CFEC

Up to three 12-hour periods of commercial dipnetting “may” be allowed each week from June 20 to July 31

Council member Dave Carey speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna explores its water and sewer expansion fees

The fees are a single charge to people who are newly or differently demanding or utilizing the services of the city’s water and sewer system

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Disaster determination received for 2023 east side setnet fishery

Disasters have been recognized for 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023

Most Read