Rabbit Creek starts in the Mulgrave Hills and flows southwest for 23 miles (37 km) to the Chukchi Sea south of Imik Lagoon, about 96 miles (155 km) southeast of Point Hope and 53 miles (85 km) northwest of Kotzebue, Alaska. The name is a translation of the Iñupiat word “Ukalliqsuq” which refers to the arctic hares that inhabit the upper creek area. A lagoon forms here seasonally when the barrier beach blocks the river mouth.
Northwestern Alaska lagoons vary in their exchange with the waters of Kotzebue Sound and the Chukchi Sea. Some like Kivakina are open year-round, others are intermittently open like Imik Lagoon and Rabbit Creek, and a few are closed like Krusenstern Lagoon. Even for lagoons that are closed or intermittently open, strong westerly storms that occur often in the summer will push seawater into all of the lagoons. The salinity-temperature relationship in each lagoon varies throughout the year, and particularly in the winter, may keep the lagoons from freezing to the bottom. This is important because it allows for salt-tolerant species to overwinter.
The coastal lagoons of northwestern Alaska provide essential habitat for whitefish, as well as for birds and mammals that are important subsistence food resources for local hunters. Cabins near the lagoons provide seasonal shelter for hunters and their families. The Kotzebue to Point Barrow winter mail trail was flagged by the Alaska Road Commission in the 1920s and often followed barrier beaches along the coast. Some of the cabins along the trail provided the dog sled teams with shelter and in some cases fresh dogs. A few of these cabins still remain. Read more here and here. Explore more of Rabbit Creek here: