Savoonga, Saint Lawrence Island

Savoonga, Saint Lawrence Island

by | Jun 20, 2020

Savoonga is a Yup’ik community on the north coast of Saint Lawrence Island, in the Bering Sea, 164 miles (265 km) southwest of Nome and 39 miles (63 km) east of Gambell, Alaska. In 1971, Savoonga became the joint owner of Saint Lawrence Island along with Gambell, the island’s only other community. The local economy consists of subsistence hunting for walrus, seals, fish, and bowhead whales.

Saint Lawrence Island has no trees, and the only woody plants are Arctic willow that stands no more than one foot (30 cm) high. The island’s abundance of seabirds and marine mammals is due largely to the influence of the Anadyr Current, an ocean current that brings cold, nutrient-rich water from the deep waters of the Bering Sea shelf edge. The island is part of Alaska, but closer to Russia than to the Alaskan mainland. Saint Lawrence Island is thought to be one of the last exposed portions of the land bridge that once joined Asia with North America during the Pleistocene period

The local economy consists mostly of subsistence hunting for walrus, seals, fish, and bowhead whales. Savoonga calls itself the “Walrus Capital of the World”. Most people on Saint Lawrence Island speak Siberian Yup’ik. A dogsled mail service operated until 1963. Today there are daily flights from Nome to Savoonga Airport, weather permitting. Read more here and here. Explore more of Savoonga and Saint Lawrence Island here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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