Cape Douglas, Shelikof Strait

Cape Douglas, Shelikof Strait

by | Oct 4, 2023

Cape Douglas is a point of land at the base of Mount Douglas on the western shore of Shelikof Strait that forms the southern shore of Sukoi Bay in Katmai National Park and Preserve, about 83 miles (134 km) southwest of Homer and 81 miles (131 km) northwest of Kodiak, Alaska. The cape was named by Captain James Cook in 1778 in honor of Dr. John Douglas who would later edit Cook’s journals. The Unangan Aleut name for the cape was pronounced Kukuak, Koukhat, or Kuchat. Shelikof Strait is about 30 miles (50 km) wide and separates Kodiak Island from the Alaska Peninsula mainland over a length of about 125 miles (200 km). The strait conveys much of the outflow from Cook Inlet and is notorious for high winds that often oppose the ocean current creating treacherous conditions for vessels transiting to or from western Alaska or the Aleutian Islands.

Mount Douglas is a stratovolcano on the Alaska Peninsula that forms the cape between Kamishak Bay and Shelikof Strait. Stratovolcanoes are common at subduction zones, forming chains and clusters along plate tectonic boundaries where oceanic crust is drawn under continental crust such as the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. The summit elevation of Mount Douglas is 7,021 ft (2,140 m). The mountain was officially named in 1906 after nearby Cape Douglas based on a 1904 report by George C. Martin of the U.S. Geological Survey. The volcano is heavily glaciated except for the north flank. The last eruption is not known but probably occurred during the Holocene that began approximately 11,650 years before the present.

Submerged pinnacles and reefs make for hazardous navigation near Cape Douglas. Several shipwrecks have occurred including the Silver Star and Ruth L that sank here in 1961. Both of these vessels worked for the Wakefield Cannery in Seldovia. The only named hazard is Douglas Reef which is about 2 miles (3.2 km) in diameter and situated 5.5 miles (8.9 km) south of Cape Douglas. There are also several rocks close together and awash at high water about 2.8 miles (4.5 km) southwest from Douglas Reef and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore. About 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Cape Douglas is a point with another rock awash at about half tide. Several uncharted and dangerous pinnacles are in the area and mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while navigating here. Read more here and here. Explore more of Cape Douglas and Shelikof Strait 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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