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.
The City of Gambell (907-985-5112) offers additional local travel information.
Birding and Wildlife Viewing
Birding at Gambell is among the finest in Alaska. Birders from around the world arrive to witness spectacular movements of seabirds in the spring and fall and for the chance of spotting Asiatic rarities such as breeding bluethroats, bristle-thighed curlew, gyrfalcon and others. Seabirds sighted include least and crested and auklets, horned and tufted puffins, thick-billed murres, spectacled eiders, Arctic and yellow-billed loons and red-necked phalaropes to name just a few.
St Lawrence Island
Savoonga is hailed as the "Walrus Capital of the World" and a Walrus Festival is held each spring.