Gull Island, Kachemak Bay

Gull Island, Kachemak Bay

by | Jul 13, 2020

Gull Island is about 633 feet (193 m) long and 93 feet (28 m) high, located at the entrance to Peterson Bay, along the southeast shore of Kachemak Bay, and about 8 miles (13 km) southeast of Homer, Alaska. The name was first reported in 1895 by William Healey Dall with the U.S. Geological Survey.

This rugged islet hosts one of the most productive seabird colonies in the Gulf of Alaska when, in recent years, other colonies have experienced widespread reproductive failure. Gull Island is the third largest and most accessible seabird colony in Cook Inlet. Despite the island’s small size, it has a large and diverse seabird population including kittiwakes, puffins, murres, and cormorants. Both Gull Island and nearby Sixty Foot Rock were in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge until 1987 when they were conveyed to the Seldovia Native Association.

As many as 20,000 seabirds build nests in the craggy rock faces and cliffs of Gull Island. In most years, up to 10,000 black-legged kittiwakes will dominate the rookery, building mud nests perched in clefts and on ledges. Over 5,000 common murres will nest amid the kittiwakes. Other birds seen in smaller numbers include glaucous-winged gulls, pelagic cormorants, red-faced cormorants, puffins, and pigeon guillemots. Bald eagles will hunt here and when these predators dive toward the colony, the effect is a chaotic cacophony as thousands of birds take wing at once. The nests are usually marked by guano and the fuzzy chicks peeking from the nests. The Seldovia Native Corporation restricts access and the public is not allowed onshore. The use of remote cameras for viewing the birds was pioneered by the Pratt Museum in Homer. View the seabird cam here. Read more here and here. Explore more of Gull 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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