USFWS
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
Alaska Region   

Wildlife Viewing

Pribilof Islands

Tourists bird watching - St. Paul Island. USFWS. Click to enlarge.

Where

Off Alaska’s western coast in the Bering Sea, the five Pribilof Islands are home to an eye-popping array of seabirds and the northern fur seal.

How to Get There

There are several flights a week from Anchorage and by cruise ship.

Access

Much of St. Paul and St. George islands are privately owned by the local Native corporations. In 2004, permits were not required to visit or cross corporation lands. Permits are required to visit the fur seal viewing blinds and can be acquired from the tribal governments once you have reached the islands. Permits, available from the tribal governments, are also required for reindeer hunting. Visitor services are available on both islands.

Galapagos of the North

Sometimes referred to as the "Galapagos of the North," the Pribilof Islands are a naturalist’s paradise. The two largest islands offer the best and most accessible marine bird and mammal viewing and photography from land. Both St. George and St. Paul islands have visitor services and can be reached by scheduled aircraft from Anchorage two to four times a week and by cruise ship.

Highlights

Each summer, an estimated 3 million seabirds and 1 million marine mammals come to breed and raise their young. Twelve species of seabirds nest in the Pribilofs, including the rare red-legged kittiwake. The soaring cliffs of St. George Island host nearly 2.5 million of those birds in one of the largest seabird colonies in the northern hemisphere.

Landfall Near Asia

Avid birders will also find that the Pribilof Islands during migration offers an excellent opportunity to observe birds typical of Asia that are rarely seen in North America.

Home to Aleuts

Known as the "Seal Islands," the Pribilof Islands comprise the largest Aleut community in the world. St. Paul Island is easier to visit and has a well-developed tour service (St. Paul Island Tours, offered by TDX, the local Native Corporation). St. Paul Island has more wetlands and varied habitat as well as the majority of fur seals. St. George Island has more spectacular bird cliffs, the majority of seabirds, and more off-road viewing experiences.

LINKS to learn more

Look Closer - Pribilofs
Visitor Services

Last updated:September 8, 2008