Delight Creek, McCarty Lagoon

Delight Creek, McCarty Lagoon

by | Aug 21, 2022

Delight Creek flows generally southwest for 2 miles (3.2 km) from Delight Lake to the entrance of McCarty Lagoon, an embayment about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide and 2 miles (3.2 km) long on the eastern shore of McCarty Fjord, on the outer coast of the Kenai Peninsula in the Kenai Fjords National Park and Preserve, about 51 miles (82 km) southwest of Seward and 43 miles (69 km) east-southeast of Homer, Alaska. The lagoon is named after the McCarty Glacier which in turn is a local name first reported by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1911. McCarty Glacier is believed to be named after William McCarty of Seward who was a boat builder and owner of the McNeily Cafe or Moose Cabin Cafe in Seward from 1904-05.

McCarty Fjord was historically called East Arm Nuka Bay before the retreat of the McCarty Glacier. McCarty Fjord has average depths of over 100 fathoms (183 m) except for a terminal moraine, with depths of 10 fathoms (18 m) or less, which crosses the fjord between McCarty Lagoon on the eastern shore and James Lagoon on the west. The entrance to McCarty Lagoon bares at low water, but shallow-draft vessels can enter at high tide. The tidal currents in the entrance have an estimated velocity of 8 to 12 knots (4-6 m/s), so high water slack is the only time to transit. The entrance is narrow and Delight Creek flows through a broad gravel flat on the north shore. The gravel flat was once forested, but the 1964 Alaska Earthquake caused significant subsidence resulting in saltwater inundation that killed the trees. Today, a standing ghost forest remains at the mouth of Delight Creek.

Delight Lake is a major natural producer of sockeye salmon, and along with Desire Lake, contributes to most of the commercial salmon catch from East Nuka Bay on the outer coast of the Kenai Peninsula. This salmon fishery is important for residents of Port Graham and Nanwalek and dates back to the early 1900s. Delight Lake also supports a popular fly-in sport fishery for sockeye and coho salmon, as well as Dolly Varden. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game annually enumerates the number of sockeye salmon returning to a system in order to properly open or close the commercial harvest and to help set future sustainable escapement goals. Read more here and here. Explore more of Delight Creek and McCarty Lagoon 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. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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