Shellfish are integral to life in Southeast Alaska, a beautiful, wild place still closely tied to the natural world. Native peoples there have long relied on clams and mussels dug and picked along the shorelines of the region’s hundreds of islands. But harvesting and eating wild shellfish is increasingly risky. As the planet and its oceans warm, toxic algae species are blooming with greater frequency and in places rarely before seen, particularly in the far north. Powerful neurotoxins from the microscopic plants can accumulate in shellfish, rendering them deadly. Now, native tribes across the vast, remote region have pooled their resources and knowledge to create a shellfish toxicity testing network.

To make EYES ON THE WATER, we traveled to Sitka, Ketchikan and communities on Prince of Wales Island to meet the people shoring up ancient, traditional knowledge of the nature with lab science they hope will save lives—and a way of life.


Graelyn Brashear

Graelyn Brashear is a multimedia journalist and master’s candidate at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She earned a degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Rutgers University, and has worked as a print reporter and editor in daily, online and weekly publications. Her radio reporting has been featured on public radio stations in Alaska and California and on American Public Media’s Marketplace. See more of her work at www.graelynbrashear.com.

Jason Hanasik

Jason Hanasik is a San Francisco based artist, curator and filmmaker. His work has been featured in exhibition and print form in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and Routledge's Critical Military Studies. He has a Master of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Summa Cum Laude from the State University of New York at Purchase. He is currently a Dean's Fellow focusing on Documentary Film and 360 Video/Immersive Media at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. See more of Hanasik's work at www.jasonhanasik.com.