Barren Islands are the northernmost islands in the Kodiak Archipelago, located between Stevenson and Kennedy Entrances of Cook Inlet, Alaska. The islands were named on May 25, 1778, by Captain James Cook, of the Royal Navy, for their barren appearance. The Barren Islands group is made up of seven named islands including East Amatuli, West Amatuli, Ushagat, Nord, Sud, Carl, and Sugarloaf. The largest is Ushagat. The islands have a combined land area of 10,387 acres (4,203 ha) and are uninhabited. The archipelago is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
The northern Gulf of Alaska hosts some of the largest populations of marine birds in North America. Millions of pelagic seabirds, including fulmars, petrels, cormorants, kittiwakes, murres, and puffins, breed at major colonies on or near the Kenai and Alaska Peninsulas, and the Kodiak archipelago. Millions of Short-tailed and Sooty shearwaters migrate through the area in summer. The largest breeding grounds of seabirds in Alaska are in the Barren Islands on East Amatuli Island and Nord Island.
On 24 March 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez went aground in Prince William Sound and spilled more than 260,000 barrels (37,000 metric tonnes) of Alaska North Slope crude oil. During the weeks that followed, currents and prevailing winds pushed oil out of Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska, where it drifted to the southwest, eventually enveloping the Barren Islands. Approximately one million marine birds were in the affected region and unprecedented bird mortality followed the oil spill. Read more here and here. Explore more of the Barren Islands here: