Shakun Islets, Shelikof Strait

Shakun Islets, Shelikof Strait

by | Dec 14, 2019

Shakun Islets is a group of grass-covered islands and submerged reefs that extend for 1.8 miles (2.9 km) in Shelikof Strait on the northeast coast of the Alaska Peninsula, in Katmai National Park and Preserve, 108 miles (174 km) southwest of Homer and 57 miles (92 km) northwest of Kodiak, Alaska. The name was derived from Shakun Rock, first published by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey as Shakun Islands in 1943. The name is a transliteration of “Kamen Shakhun”, published in 1852 by Mikhail Tebenkov of the Imperial Russian Navy.

The islets are about 2.5 miles (4 km) off the mainland coast near Swikshak Lagoon, and despite the distance offshore, are frequented by brown bears that swim across to forage for food. Coastal brown bears are known to use offshore islands to access food such as bird eggs, marine mammals, and razor clams from exposed intertidal sand flats. They also scavenge for carcasses washed up by the surf and it is not uncommon to see several dozen bears feeding on one whale carcass.

Sea otters are prolific in and around the Shakun Islets and were hunted to near extinction in the 1800s by Aleuts for Russian American Company stations at Afognak, Douglas, and Kukuk. The sea otter population recovered and recent observations have noted aggregated rafts with hundreds of individuals among the Shakun Islets and the population may have reached a food-limited status. Sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions are known to haul out on the islets and reefs at Shakun where they are hunted by brown bears. Read more here and here. Explore more of the Shakun Islets here:

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This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (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. 

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