Solivik Island, Chukchi Sea

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Solivik Island, Chukchi Sea

by | Sep 17, 2018

Solivik is a barrier island used by walruses as a haulout. It extends southwest from Icy Cape to Point Lay and forms Kasegaluk Lagoon between the Chukchi Sea and the Arctic Plain. The Inupiat name means “a sewing place” first reported in 1956 by cartographer T. E. Taylor of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Solivik is a relatively recent deposit of sediment with the location, shape, and geomorphology controlled by the amount and type of sediment, the magnitude of natural processes, and the stability of sea level. Along Alaska’s Arctic Coast, these types of barrier islands are low (less than 2 m high), narrow (50- 200 m wide), and long, the length is broken occasionally by narrow inlets that provide the connection between the lagoons and the ocean. These islands are susceptibility to coastal erosion since sediment is deposited by waves driven by prevailing winds and subsequently transported by longshore drift.

Over the last decade, walruses have come to shore by the thousands to rest on these barrier islands. Walruses typically dive to the ocean floor to feed on clams and snails and haul out on sea ice to rest. Now when the ice recedes north off the shallow continental shelf and reaching unprecedented minimum extents in the Chukchi Sea, walruses head to the barrier island beaches to rest. Read more here and here, and see a short video here. Explore more of Solivik Island and Kasegaluk Lagoon here:

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