Kaflia Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve

Kaflia Bay, Katmai National Park and Preserve

by | Jan 30, 2021

Kaflia Bay extends west for 4 miles (6.5 km) from Shelikof Strait between Cape Gull and Cape Ugyak, in Katmai National Park and Preserve, about 93 miles (150 km) southeast of King Salmon and 75 miles (121 km) northwest of Kodiak, Alaska. The bay was named in 1831 by Mikhail Nikolayevich Vasilyev of the Imperial Russian Navy and is from the word ‘kafel’ referring to a piece of baked clay used in covering roofs, presumably for the red-colored volcanic rocks on the surrounding mountains.

In the early 1900s, a saltery was established in Kaflia Bay by a man named Foster who supplied the growing market for preserved salmon. Kaflia Bay provides a funnel-shaped outer bay, which leads through a narrow pass into a restricted and more convoluted inner bay, which is the estuary for an unnamed sockeye salmon spawning stream. The saltery was apparently so successful that by 1912, people living in the villages at Katmai and Douglas flocked to the site and beach-seined for salmon. The eruption of Novarupta in June 1912, abruptly ended that activity. Ash from the volcano buried the Kaflia settlement to a depth of 3 feet (1 m) and forced all the villagers to flee. The site has since been uninhabited; however, the site has been known by fishery regulators as a favorite with twentieth-century fish poachers.

From 1994 to 2003, Timothy Treadwell spent the early part of each summer camping at an open area of grass in Hallo Bay, about 15 miles (24 km) north of Kaflia Bay. Treadwell was known for getting extremely close to the bears he observed, sometimes even touching them and playing with bear cubs. During the later part of each summer, he would move to Kaflia Bay and camp in an area of especially thick brush he called the “Grizzly Maze”. Here the chances of crossing paths with grizzlies were much higher since the location intersected bear trails. Treadwell recorded almost 100 hours of video footage and produced a large collection of still photographs. In 2003, Treadwell chose to set his campsite near a salmon stream where grizzlies commonly feed in autumn. Treadwell was in the park later in the year than normal, at a time when bears attempt to gain as much fat as possible before winter. Food was scarce that fall, causing the bears to be even more aggressive than usual. On October 6, Treadwell and his girlfriend were attacked and killed by a brown bear. This story was later documented in a film called Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog. In the 85-year history of Katmai National Park, this was the first known incident of a person being killed by a bear. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kaflia Bay 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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