Jude Island, Alaska Peninsula

Jude Island, Alaska Peninsula

by | Apr 8, 2021

Jude Island is about 0.2 miles (0.3 km) across and located off the Alaska Peninsula between Unga and Wosnesenski islands, about 48 miles (77 km) northeast of King Cove and 24 miles (39 km) west-southwest of Sand Point, Alaska. The island was named “Apostle Jude Island” in 1852 by Captain Tebenkov of the Imperial Russian Navy. The island is shown as “Jude Island” on U.S. Coast and Geodetic charts published in 1882.

Jude Island is an important haulout for Steller sea lions that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) is a near-threatened species of sea lion in the northern Pacific. Among pinnipeds, it is inferior in size only to the walrus and the two species of elephant seals. The species is named for the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who first described them in 1741. The Steller sea lion has attracted considerable attention in recent decades, owing to significant and largely unexplained declines in their numbers over an extensive portion of their northern range in Alaska.

The Steller sea lion population in the western Gulf of Alaska declined by 75 percent between 1976 and 1990. The reasons for the decline are not completely understood, however, in the mid to late 20th century, fishermen were paid a $2–6 bounty for sea lions by the U.S. government. In the 1970s, it was not unusual for fishing boats to arrive in Dutch Harbor with dozens of sea lion noses strung together. The original purpose of the bounty was to decrease predation on commercial fish species. The numbers killed probably rose from a level of 1,500 animals per year in the late 1950s to a peak of around 4,000 animals in the early 1980s. Mortality decreased through the late 1980s as the sea lion population declined and public attitudes towards sea lions changed. Recent studies suggest that fishing pressure near sea lion habitat may contribute to malnourishment and higher mortality of sea lion pups. Fishing restrictions were established around many western Gulf of Alaska islands in 2004 to protect Steller sea lions from extinction. Read more here and here. Explore more of Jude Island here:

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