Matson Ocean Education Center

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC), Alaska’s premier wildlife sanctuary, is partnering with Matson to construct the Matson Ocean Education Center (MOEC). This 1,000 square foot classroom-style facility will be located at The Point, where AWCC meets the waters of Turnagain Arm. Endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales can be seen from this location at high tides, especially in the spring and fall when they chase salmon right by the area. The facility will connect the public to education and research about Cook Inlet to support conservation of this important waterway.

The MOEC will allow AWCC to build on existing education and monitoring work, expanding our capacity to support efforts to preserve Cook Inlet beluga whales and other sea life. In addition to hosting education, research, and community science events, the MOEC will include interpretive signs for self-guided visitors, a life-size beluga whale skeleton, binoculars for viewing across Turnagain Arm, and a hydrophone for hearing underwater sounds—creating an engaging educational space for visitors. Design of the facility is in progress, and construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2024.

“This exciting partnership between Matson and AWCC will create a space for expanded education programs highlighting beluga whales, icebergs, bore tides, and the glaciers that carved the valley and fjord.” ​Sarah Howard, AWCC Executive Director

“We are excited about helping the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center’s vision for this new Ocean Education Center to become a reality. It’s an opportunity to create a new community resource that will excite and educate generations of Alaskans and visitors about the ocean environment and conservation of our unique ecosystems and animal life in Alaska.”​ Bal Dreyfus, Matson Senior Vice President, Alaska

AWCC is an official NOAA counting station for Cook Inlet belugas whales during the annual Belugas Count! event that happens every September. Belugas Count! raises citizens’ awareness about Cook Inlet belugas whale especially regarding their declining population. In addition, AWCC works extensively with the AK Beluga Monitoring Partnership (AkBMP).

“We are so thankful to Matson for this generous gift,” said Lana Johnson, AWCC Board of Directors. “Visitors, students, and research teams will be able to learn and study from one of the most scenic places in Alaska with wood bison and elk on one side and views of the water, beluga whales, mountains, and glaciers all around.”

Matson, Inc. is a U.S. owned and operated transportation services company headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii. A leader in Pacific shipping since 1882, subsidiary Matson Navigation Company, Inc. (Matson) provides a vital lifeline to the economies of Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Micronesia and the South Pacific and premium, expedited service from China to Southern California. Matson’s long history as a leader in Pacific shipping underpins a half-century of dedicated service to Alaska by Alaskans.

Located at mile 79 of the Seward Highway, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research, and quality animal care. AWCC takes in orphaned and injured animals, year-round, and provides them a forever home. The sanctuary maintains over 200 acres of spacious habitats for resident animals to feel at home displaying their natural “wild” behavior as education ambassadors for their species. AWCC offers STEM education programs in the areas of biology, ecology, and conservation.

Discover the WILD of Alaska and come meet the locals! Walk on the Wild Side Tours are available year-round and include an animal encounter. Summer Moose Encounters & Bear Encounters are available for online booking. Book early to ensure your spot!