Sledge Island, Bering Sea

Sledge Island, Bering Sea

by | Mar 15, 2019

Sledge Island is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) across, located in the Bering Sea about 5 miles (8 km) off the south coast of the Seward Peninsula, and 25 miles (40 km) west of Nome, Alaska. The island was named by Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy on August 5, 1778, for a sledge or sled found on the shore where they landed. The Iñupiat name for the island is Ayak.

The island historically had a small village with about 50 Ayakmiut who primarily hunted seals and walrus. The island also had abundant seabirds such as kittiwakes, murres, and puffins that occupied the rocky ledges, crevices, and burrows for nesting. The village was abandoned during or just prior to the Nome Gold Rush in 1899. The island is now part of the Bering Sea Unit of the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge.

Sledge Island is like neighboring islands in the Bering Sea such as King Island, Fairway Rock, and Little Diomede near Wales, which are granitic plutons extremely resistant to erosion. In geology, a pluton is a body of intrusive igneous rock that slowly crystallized from magma cooling below the Earth’s surface. A pluton forms a distinctive mass typically several kilometers in dimension. Specific types of plutons include batholiths, stocks, dikes, and sills. Denali, in the Alaska Range, is an example of a large pluton. Read more here and here. Explore more of Sledge Island here:

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