National Wildlife Refuge
|95 Sterling Highway, Suite 1
Homer, AK 99603 - 8021
Phone Number: 907-235-6546
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|The refuge's research vessel, the M/V Tiglax, with Mount Cleveland in the background. Mount Cleveland is located on Chuginadak in the Aleutian Islands.|
Continued . . . Bird Watchers' Paradise
About 40 million seabirds fly to Refuge lands each spring after a winter on the ocean. Many, such as red-legged kittiwakes, nest only here and in nearby Siberia. The six species of auklets found on the refuge are also unique to the north Pacific and sought after by birdwatchers.
Seabird colonies, which can number over a million birds, may look chaotic, but each of the 30 species nests in a specialized habitat. Murres lay their single egg on bare rock ledges. Small parakeet auklets and larger horned puffins raise their chicks deep within rock crevices of different sizes. Storm-petrels dig long tunnels into grassy slopes. Thus they reduce competition for nest space and hide from predatory gulls and falcons.
Because seabirds evolved on islands where their only predators were other birds, they are defenseless against introduced foxes and rats that can stalk them on ledges and enter their nest chambers.
Located like a bridge between two continents, the Refuge attracts more than 250 kinds of migratory birds from Asia and North America. The refuge islands of Attu and the Pribilofs are hot spots for sighting rare Asiatic birds.
Marine Mammals in Trouble
Remote Refuge beaches and near-shore waters provide protected "nurseries" for endangered and declining marine mammals while biologists search the ocean environment for the cause of their dwindling populations.
Sea otters are in trouble again after making a successful comeback last century from overhunting and near extinction.
Steller sea lions are now endangered, quieting the cries of pups and the roars of bulls on their rookeries. Their mysterious decline has been going on for 30 years.
Harbor and fur seal populations are slowly declining. Walrus and polar bears are holding steady. Few islands have native land mammals.
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