Tuesday, April 16, 2013

St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska

The Cliffs of St. Paul
I received an email yesterday from my my friend Joe describing his trip to St. Paul Island in the Pribilof's.  I have also visited St. Paul and found it to be at a very interesting location.  On reviewing my blogs, I found that I never wrote about it.  So here goes.

St. Paul island, which is the largest of the Pribilof Islands is located in the Bering Sea in between Alaska and Russia.  The the Pribilof Islands home to the largest population of northern fur seals.  In fact, the northern fur seals with the basis of a Walt Disney film titled "Seal Island.".  There is only one town on the island, St. Paul, which is home to the largest Aleut community in the United States.  Most of the island is owned by the TDX Corp., which is a shareholder owned Aleut Alaska native village, cooperation.  The island is also part of the Alaska Maritime national wildlife refuge.  There is one church on the island, Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church, which was built in 1907.  What brings visitors to the island is the vast number of birds that occur on the island, including many migrants from Eurasia.  It is the breeding grounds for millions of seabirds.
Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church
Fishing boats in the harbor

Flying into the island or out of the island is very weather dependent.  At least when visited, there was no radar control on the island in the plane had to land by visual flight rules.  What makes it hard, is the large amount of summer fog that can be persistent.  In fact, the day we left it started out sunny and then by noon time.  The fog came in, and the plane was not able to arrive for almost 4 hours late.  What we were worried about was of the plane did not make it onto the island, we would miss our return flights home from Anchorage.  However, we did finally make it.

The first day we were there we were blessed even with a sunset.
Our only sunset
Otherwise, we dealt with fog, wind, and the most enjoyable photography.
Black-Legged Kittiwakes

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Lapland Longspur

Rock Sandpiper

Northern Fulmar

Wandering Tatler

Horned Puffin

Black-legged Kittiwake

Tufted Puffin

Northern Fur Seal

Snow Bunting

Crested Auklet

Least Auklet

Pribilof Arctic Fox

Red-faced Cormorant

Parakeet Auklet

If you are a birder or a photographer than St. Paul is worth at least one trip.  There is only one hotel, one place to eat and nothing is pretentious.