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Who We Are

The Petersburg Marine Mammal Center is a non-profit organization comprised of resident and non-resident members. Our membership represents an interesting and diverse cross-section of individuals. Commercial fishers, scientists, teachers, charter operators, physicians, business owners and other interested persons have joined our organization. Our interest is in the recovery and preservation of humpback whales and public education regarding marine mammals of Southeast Alaska.

Mission Statement
The Petersburg Marine Mammal Center will develop education programs, assist research efforts and be a depository for and disseminator of information on research and sightings of marine mammals in Southeast Alaska.

Our Philosophy
Membership and/or participation in the PMMC are inclusive. Individuals and organizations interested in the study and appreciation of marine mammals, particularly whales, may enjoy membership. We encourage intellectual and financial support.

The marine environment near Petersburg, Alaska is abundant with North Pacific sea life.  There exists an abundantly rich ecosystem consisting of plankton, fish, and marine mammals. Because of this richness of marine life, the waters of Frederick Sound and Stephen’s Passage are primary feeding grounds for migratory humpback whales who come here each spring to feed and frolic in preparation for their fall return to Hawaii for the birth of their calves. The local waters are key to the survival of this endangered ocean giant. Orcas, sea lions, seals, and porpoises also call the local waters home. 

With the waters prolific with marine activity, teams of researchers, wild life photographers, and eco-tourists travel to these shores to view and study these splendid creatures. Petersburg, being a major fishing port, enjoys a large fleet of commercial vessels and a small charter fleet that provides viewing opportunities.  With so much already here: the environment, the sea life, the research community, and the public, it became only natural to provide a link the community, students, and visitors. 

The actual idea of the Petersburg Marine Mammal Center began the summer 1997.  The initial suggestion was brought up at a gathering of individuals interested in the economic development of Petersburg. A local business owner discussed a conversation they had with the traveling marine researcher Dr. Jim Darling and how he advised that, based on the town’s proximity to prime whale habitat, we should establish Petersburg as a center for marine studies.

Shortly after, several enthusiastic individuals met to consider the feasibility of such a venture. It was quickly determined that the development of the Petersburg Marine Mammal Center was an opportunity worthy of significant effort.  The founders were motivated by the philosophy "build it and they will come".  Soon a Board of Directors was developed, the status of a non-profit organization achieved, a local economic development grant received, enrollment of members began, and thus the Petersburg Marine Mammal Center, or PMMC for short, was formed.

Since its establishment in September 1998, our organization has grown to include a growing membership of both residents and non-residents and several organizations.Multiple projects have been completed or just waiting to be started. We look forward the time ahead and hope that you too will support and become a part of our organization.


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