Devils Bay, Afognak Island

Devils Bay, Afognak Island

by | Mar 27, 2021

Devils Bay is a bight about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide on the north shore of Black Cape on Afognak Island in the Kodiak Island Archipelago, about 97 miles (156 km) southwest of Homer and 48 miles (77 km) northwest of the community of Kodiak, Alaska. The name of the bay was first published in 1925 by the U.S. Forest Service. Black Cape is a prominent headland on the northwest coast of Afognak Island. The name is a translation made in 1868 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey of the Russian name Mys Chemoy published in 1849 by the Russian American Company.

In 2002, kelp beds of a marine alga called giant kelp or Macrocystis were observed in Devils Bay during aerial surveys of the shoreline. This was an unusual observation since Macrocystis is not common in the western Gulf of Alaska. In May 2005, a ground survey was conducted of the kelp and samples were collected for taxonomic confirmation. In Southeast Alaska, Macrocystis is well documented in the more oceanic outer coastal areas but is not described north of Icy Bay. Macrocystis is a monospecific genus, the sole species is M. pyrifera that grows to over 150 feet (45 m) long, and is more commonly known as giant kelp or giant bladder kelp. Giant kelp is common along the coast of the western Pacific Ocean from Baja California to Southeast Alaska and is also found in the southern oceans near South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The small and infrequent kelp beds of Macrocystis in the western Gulf of Alaska are either a range extension of a southern population, or perhaps a remnant of a broader historical distribution, or possibly were propagated from a kelp pound fishery

A kelp pound fishery harvests Pacific herring roe deposited on kelp blades, the fishery is more frequently referred to as spawn on kelp. Enclosed pounds give this fishery its name. A “pound” is a pen made of nets that surrounds stalks of kelp, usually suspended from the water’s surface. Macrocystis is the preferred edible kelp so often these are harvested from known kelp forests and transported to areas where herring are likely to spawn. With an enclosed pound, herring are caught with seine nets, transported, and released into a pen before spawning. The fish are held for several days during the spawn and then released. Closed pounds are carefully regulated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who specify the maximum size of the pens, the number of pens, the number of kelp blades per pound, the maximum number of days herring may be kept in a pound and the time of day the herring must be released. Closed pounds produce kelp blades thickly coated with eggs which are a highly desirable product. Read more here and here. Explore more of Devils Bay here:

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