Carter Bay is a small embayment along the southeast coast of the mouth of the Kuskokwim River. This site is protected from the larger Kuskokwim Bay by a 15 km-long sand spit, called Carter Spit. The bay is fed by Carter creek and Indian River and several smaller drainages along the east side and at its head. The inner third of Carter Bay is intertidal mudflats while the head of the bay is fringed with graminoid/sedge marshes.

Ornithological Summary

This bay is an important migration staging area for relatively small numbers (a few hundreds to a few dozens) of a wide variety of waterfowl including Steller's Eiders, Greater Scaup, King eider, Long-tailed duck, Emperor Goose and other.
Numerous incidental observations of shorebirds are available for this site, most collected during spring and autumn aerial surveys of waterfowl along western Alaska coast. For example, Gill and Conant (unpubl. data) counted 8,052 Dunlin and 1,945 Bar-tailed Godwits there on 1 Oct. 1979 and Dau (unpubl. data) counted 6,000 Rock sandpipers there on 23 April 1981. Between 2 July and 12 August 1995 on-ground observations revealed a total of 23,000 shorebirds at this site (=high counts of 28 taxa), the majority (~50%) of which were Western sandpipers (Seppi 1995a). Several daily counts of Hudsonian Godwits in excess of 100 birds (total 1,204; high count 230) suggests this is an important site for this species based on percentage of total population. (Seppi 1995b).
The site qualifies as an IBA of global importance based on the numbers of two species of global conservation concern: Hudsonian Godwit and Steller's Eider, and based on total numbers of waterbirds using the area.

Migration stopover: 10,000s; A4iii.

surveys for seaducks/waterfowl conducted 1980-2000.

Conservation Issues

Risk of contamination due to petroleum transportation in the area.


Inshore waters, Intertidal mudflats, Intertidal sandflats, Sand spits, Sand beach, Sand gravel shoreline, and Graminoid/sedge meadows.

Shoreline 45 km
Barrier beach/spit - 4km
Veget. intertidal - 25km
Unveg. intert. - 48 km

Land Use

Subsistence hunting and fishing

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