Kasegaluk Lagoon is one of the longest lagoon-barrier island systems in the world. It extends along the coast of northwest Alaska for over 170 km and has a maximum width of about 10 km.

Maximum depth is less than 4 m, with much of the area only 1-2 m deep. The lagoon is protected from the Chukchi Sea by a series of barrier islands and is fed by five major rivers.

Ornithological Summary

Lehnhausen and Quinlan's study recorded a total of 25,144 shorebirds, representing 19 different taxa. Red Phalaropes (46%) were the most numerous shorebird recorded, followed by Dunlin (20%), unidentified medium shorebirds (8%), Red-necked Phalaropes (5%), Pectoral Sandpipers (5%), and Semipalmated Sandpipers (3%). Peak single day counts were of 1,125 and 2,499 birds on 27 July and 22 August respectively; both comprised mostly of Red Phalaropes. Johnson et al.'s (1993) study differed markedly in that "small shorebirds" (distinct from phalaropes ssp.) were by far the most abundant group recorded all three years (78.8 - 98.5%). The highest single day count was 29,070 "small shorebirds" was recorded on 26 August 1991.

Waterfowl uses wider areas on and offshore. The northern portion of the Kasegaluk Lagoon (north of Icy Cape) is a primary feeding/staging area of Black Brant in late summer, up to 40,000 birds counted by S. Johnson (1992).

There is an Aleutian tern colony in the southern portion (south of Point Lay) of the lagoon (Johnson S. and D. Hereter, 1989). Off shore area includes polyn'ya (Vivian Mendenhall, pers. com.).

Maximum number of small shorebirds: 29,070 (A4iii)

Conservation Issues

There is risk of pollution associated with the present transportation of petroleum products.

There is potential for oil development in the Chukchi Sea, with the risk of oil pollution from increasing vessel traffic. If global warming removes ice and opens shipping routes in the Arctic Ocean, the increase in large vessel traffic through the Bering Strait would also increase the threat of oil pollution.

Ownership

This site has been the object of two major studies, one ground-based in 1981 (Lehnhausen and Quinlan, 1981) and the other using aerial surveys between 1989 and 1991 (Johnson et al. 1992).

Suggested Protection measures:
-Transportation of petroleum products in the seasons not important for eiders and other waterbirds.
-Provide adequate spill response equipment to local population and on vessels tranporting oil products.

Habitat

Intertidal mud/sandflats, barrier islands, gravel shoreline, unvegetated intertidal.

Shoreline: 948 km
Barrier beach/spit: 44 km2
Unvegetated intertidal: 108 km2

Land Use

hunting; fishing; urban industrial transport.

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