St. Lawrence Island

Region: Far North

Tufted Puffin

St. Lawrence Island is a birder’s paradise located 164 miles west of Nome in the middle of the Bering Sea.

About St. Lawrence Island

St. Lawrence Island is home to more seabirds than humans. While the island has been inhabited intermittently for the past 2,000 years by Yup’ik Eskimos and is now home to approximately 1,300 people, it hosts 2.7 million seabirds during nesting season. In early June the number of puffins, auklets, murres, kittiwakes, eiders, loons and many other seabirds that pass by the point either migrating to their Arctic breeding grounds or local nesters on Sivaqaq Mountain is astounding. At times it is estimated tens of thousands are in the air.

St. Lawrence residents, who either live in Gambell or Savoonga on the northern coast, are 95.5 percent Alaska Native or part Alaska Native. The isolation of the island has helped maintain their traditional St. Lawrence Yup’ik culture, their language and a subsistence lifestyle based on marine mammals. Most residents are bilingual, with Siberian Yup’ik still the first language. The economy is largely based on subsistence harvests from the sea including seal, walrus, fish and bowhead and gray whales. Walrus-hide boats are still used to hunt.

Things to do

Birding tours to Gambell, located on the northwest cape, are available out of Anchorage. Savoonga is hailed as the “Walrus Capital of the World” and a Walrus Festival is held each spring.

Learn More About Alaska's Far North