Nubble Point, Kasitsna Bay

Nubble Point, Kasitsna Bay

by | May 30, 2023

Nubble Point is a bedrock outcrop connected to the Kenai Peninsula mainland by MacDonald Spit which forms and separates Kasitsna Bay from Kachemak Bay, about 11 miles (18 km) south of Homer and 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northeast of Seldovia, Alaska. The point’s name refers generally to a small knob and specifically is the name of a rocky promontory at Cape Neddick on the coast of Maine. The point and Kasitsna Bay were named by William H. Dall of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and originally published as ‘Kahsitsnah‘ on charts from 1883. The name is reputedly derived from the Dena’ina Athabascan word “Ksi’sina” meaning ‘sandspit’ or possibly “k’tsits’ena” meaning ‘skull’. The bedrock at Nubble Point represents the McHugh Complex that consists of pillow and massive basalt overlain by complexly folded and faulted radiolarian chert that developed between the Middle Triassic and Early Cretaceous, or 225 million to 110 million years ago. An unnamed extension projects to the southeast from Nubble Point and consists of a spit and a wooded island. The island is formed by rocks of the Tyonek Formation that developed from the Oligocene to the Miocene, or 30 million to 5 million years ago, and consists of carbonaceous nonmarine conglomerate, sandstone, and siltstone. Nubble Point and most of the extension are owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.

The southern Kenai Peninsula including Kachemak Bay was first occupied around 4,500 years ago by prehistoric maritime people of the late Ocean Bay tradition who arrived from the Alaska Peninsula. About 4,000 years ago the Arctic Small Tool tradition of the Alaska Peninsula appeared, and 3,000 years ago the Kachemak tradition was established and remained for the next 1,500 years and then disappeared from the archaeological record. A few Alutiiq sites are known on the southern Kenai Peninsula coast in the last 1,000 years. The bay was then inhabited by ancestors of the present-day Dena’ina Athabaskan people who adopted a maritime subsistence economy.  The failure of any prehistoric culture to last more than 1,500 years suggests the southern Kenai coast was a marginal habitat for early humans. The archaeological record from Kasitsna Bay includes artifacts from middens and house pits that indicate a continuous presence transitioning from a prehistoric culture to the present-day Euro-American culture. In 1880, Ivan Petrof reported Seldovia as being inhabited mostly by Alutiiq people.

Kasitsna Bay was homesteaded by Harley Ekren around 1950. In 1953, Harley married Shirley Hurd who had a son from a previous marriage, and in 1955, the family started a cannery called the Ekren Packing Company that operated until 1975, hand packing clams, salmon, and Dungeness crabs. The cannery was on wooden pilings and the whole structure sank 5 feet (1.5 m) and flooded during the 1964 Alaska Earthquake. In 1957, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries began studying shellfish in Kachemak Bay, and a small field station was constructed in 1960 on 27 acres (11 ha) on Kasitsna Bay. Early research focused on the life history, population dynamics, and behavior of pandalid shrimp in the Gulf of Alaska. In 1978, changes in research priorities and logistical problems led to the transfer of research activities to the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Laboratory in Kodiak. For the next 3 years, the Environmental Research Laboratories used the Kasitsna Bay facility for the Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program. Since 1981, the University of Alaska Fairbanks uses the station for research and education, although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration still owns and operates the facility. Read more here and here. Explore more of Nubble Point and Kasitsna 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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