Seeking Sanctuary Status for the Aleutian Islands Archipelago

CREDIT: NOAA photo courtesy of the Alaska Oceans Program
CREDIT: NOAA photo courtesy of the Alaska Oceans Program

By Mark J. Spalding with Catharine Cooper

4,405 miles from Washington D.C., lies a rugged chain of exquisitely beautiful islands. Extending from the tip of the Alaskan peninsula, the Aleutian Islands are home to one of the richest and most biologically productive marine life ecosystems, and our largest populations of marine mammals, seabirds, fish and shellfish in the world. The 69 islands form an 1,100 mile arc toward the Kamchatka Peninsula, and separate the Bering Sea from the Pacific Ocean.

Here is the home of several endangered species, including the Stellar Sea Lion, sea otters, short-tailed albatross, and the humpback whales. Here are the passes that provide critical travel corridors for most of the world’s gray whales and northern fur seals, which use the passes to access feeding and breeding grounds. Here is the home of some of the most diverse and dense aggregations of cold-water corals known in the world. Here is the ecosystem that has supported the subsistence needs of the coastal Alaska native people for millennia.

At first glance, this wilderness looks pristine, intact, unaffected by the ravages that affect more populated seaboards. But those who live, work, or —> Read More Here


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