Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center in Homer
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge's headquarters at Islands & Ocean is open year-round to the public and is the crossroads of conservation and education for Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and our conservation partners. We offer fun and educational exhibits, as well as travelling and other temporary exhibits, film festivals and author receptions - all free and open to the public. A feature of the Center is our award-winning 14-minute orientation film, available for screening on-demand and special summer interpretive programming.
Islands & Ocean also offers meeting space for local conservation-oriented organizations such as the Kachemak Bay Birders, Kachemak Bay Environmental Education Alliance, and the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. For more information about scheduling workshops and other events, check out our Use Policy or contact the Visitor Center Manager at 907-226-4675. Due to our busy schedule, Islands & Ocean is not available for use from April through Labor Day. For a list of upcoming events visit our Events calendar.
Our NeighborsInupiatYup'ikUnangan/AleutDena'ina AthabascansAlutiiq KoniagTlingitHaidaand all the "newcomers" who have arrived since 1745!The Sea and the Land ProvideMore than 11,000 years ago, the ancestors of today's Native people came to settle along Alaska's coast by this "sea of plenty". High-Rise GroceryFor the first people, the wilderness provided a bounty of fresh delicacies and useful materials. In the long days of summer, freshly laid gull and murre eggs were gathered by young boys scaling cliffs. Birds were hunted by the Inupiat people of northern Alaska using bola and nets. The skins of 40 tufted puffins, or 25 cormorants, were stitched together by the Unangan people of the Aleutian Islands to make a single elaborate, full-length, reversible parka.Moving with the ResourcesNative peoples traveled from place to place in search of food resources, taking advantage of seasonal abundance. They located their camps and villages near cliffs, bays, reefs, and islets where they would have the greatest access to marine foods and materials for shelter and clothing.Knowledge Passed DownWith skills, physical endurance, and traditional knowledge passed down through many generations, Native peoples were able to prosper when wildlife was plentiful and to survive through leaner times. Each animal was important to them.Moons of Hunger, Moons of PlentyThe lives and languages of Alaska's Native peoples were shaped by their coastal environments. For example, the Unangan gave the seasons and months names that echo their way of life.February: moon of last stored foodMarch: moon of eating skinsApril: near hunger moonMay: moon of flowers, seal pups and the hunter-paddlerJune: moon of eggs and seal yearlingsJuly: moon of red fish (salmon) and young sealsAugust: moon when grass is fadingBefore "Newcomers"Before contact with "newcomers" in the 1700s, the rich flora and fauna of the Aleutian Islands supported between 15,000 and 25,000 Aleuts. They built villages along the seacoasts and developed intricate societies supported by the abundant marine mammals, fish, seabirds, marine invertebrates, and seaweed. Evidence of these ancient villages still exists on nearly every island. Today Aleut communities are found on Atka, Adak, Umnak, Unalaska, Akutan, and Unimak islands in the Aleutians, and St. George and St. Paul islands in the Pribilofs.
Follow Us Online
Biologists recently discovered Kittlitz’s murrelets nesting on Adak, and since then have searched the island for more birds. An elusive and little understood seabird, Kittlitz’s murrelets are a species of concern because of their low numbers and restricted range. Their cryptic mottled plumage and secretive behavior around their solitary nest sites makes locating murrelet nests seem a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack. If eyes are not the best tool for finding Kittlitz nests, what about noses? This summer a new member joined the team: Otto, a ten-month-old Deutsch-Drahthaar (akin to a German wirehair pointer). Even in the Aleutians, Otto is not the first dog to work alongside Refuge biologists. Read more about Otto and how we went to the dogs to bring back an endangered species.