Alaska’s coastlines are remote and logistically inaccessible to most residents and visitors, but are a national treasure in terms of diverse natural history and spectacular scenery. In the process of developing an inventory of our coast’s biological and geological habitats in our ShoreZone mapping project, we developed an archive of high resolution digital imagery in our areas of concern. By whittling this list of tens of thousands of photographs, we created an exhibit of large format prints so that everyone can learn about the natural wonders in our stunningly beautiful coastal backyard. The result is Coastal Impressions: A Photographic Journey along Alaska’s Gulf Coast.
The exhibit selection represents a range of ecology, geology, geomorphology, and natural forces that make Alaska’s gulf coast so distinctive and diverse. The images capture the shore during some of the lowest tides of the year, providing a visual gateway to the benthos and the unique zonation and assortment of intertidal and shallow subtidal biota. Each image also tells a different story of the natural history and dynamic forces captured on camera at the instant of the overflight. In the exhibit booklet photos are annotated with descriptions of the natural history, ecology, and/or coastal processes shaping the coastline based on an analysis of each image.
The exhibit has been viewed by thousands of Alaskans and visitors since its debut showing at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage in January 2012. Since then, it has been exhibited at the:
- Kenai Convention and Visitors Center, Kenai, May through October 2015.
- Islands and Oceans Visitors Center in Homer for a month in spring 2012,
- University of Alaska Anchorage for a month, beginning at reception for the National Marine Educators Annual Meeting in June 2012,
- Alaska State Museum in Juneau for a 3 month special exhibit starting in November 2012, and
- Centennial Hall in Juneau during the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Meeting in June 2013.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council (RCAC) and developed in partnership with NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center Auke Bay Laboratories, and the Alaska ShoreZone program.
The exhibit was so well received that several agencies have moved forward and developed a second exhibit for Arctic ShoreZone imagery and used our Coastal Impressions name as well as the exhibit and booklet as the format template. This new exhibit, Coastal Impressions: A Photographic Journey along Alaska’s Arctic Coast, was unveiled at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in January 2014.