Toksook Bay, Nelson Island

Toksook Bay, Nelson Island

by | Jan 17, 2023

Toksook Bay is a Yup’ik community on Nelson Island, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, about 112 miles (181 km) west-southwest of Bethel and 13.5 miles (22 km) west-northwest of Nightmute, Alaska. Nelson Island was named in 1880 by Henry Gannett for Edward William Nelson, who spent about 5 years in this area as an observer for the U.S. Signal Service and collector for the Smithsonian Institution. The island is separated from the Alaska mainland to the north by the Ningaluk River, to the east by the Kolavinarak River, and from Nunivak Island to the southwest by Etolin Strait.

The village was established in 1964 when most of the population of Nightmute moved to this location. Almost all the residents are members of the Alaska Native Nunakauyarmiut (“People of Nunakauyaq”), who maintain a predominantly traditional diet from fishing, and hunting musk ox and caribou. The community was chosen as the site of the first enumeration for the 2020 U.S. Census due to the extreme remoteness and the necessity of collecting census data before the population disperses to seasonal fish camps.

Nelson Island has four other villages including Umkumiut which is 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of Toksook, Tununak on the northwest coast, Nightmute near the eastern edge of the Island, and Mertarvik which was recently constructed on the northern shore of Nelson Island. Snowmobile trails connect these communities in the winter. The rest of the island, over 77 percent of the land area, is unpopulated. The village of Newtok, on the mainland across the Ningaluk River north of the island, is in the process of being moved to Mertarvik to escape erosion of the river bank in the area where Newtok is currently located. Read more here and here. Explore more of Toksook Bay here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2022 (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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