The area is located in the central Bering Sea between St. Lawrence and St. Matthew Islands.
During winter, Spectacled Eiders congregate here in exceedingly large and dense flocks in openings in the pack ice. Typically Spectacled Eiders gather in late fall just south of the center of St. Lawrence Island, and then migrate southward as the area fills in with sea ice (Larned et al.1995c). Spectacled Eiders from three known breeding populations use this wintering area (Service 1999); no other wintering areas are currently known. Larned and Tilady (1999) estimated the entire wintering population and perhaps the worldwide population of Spectacled Eiders at 374,792 birds. Because nearly all individuals of this species may spend each winter occupying an area of ocean less than 50 km in diamteter, they may be particularly vulnerable to chance events during this time.
There are indications that the adjacent marine area in the Russian waters may by important for Spectacled Eiders as well (Konyukhov, 1998, Bogoslovskaya, 1981), however additonal surveys for spectacled eiders need to be done to make an assessment.
Marine Conservation Criteria
Potential for oil pollution from vessel traffic through the Bering Strait. Increased threat of oil pollution if the Bering Strait becomes a major route (global warming may open ice-free shipping lanes north of Asia and North America).
Change in food resources of seabirds due to effects of global warming on marine currents and sea ice.
Depth range- 25-37 fathoms
Near-shore waters- 0-50 m
Offshore waters-mid-shelf- 50-100
Residents of St.Lawrence Island hunt walrus and bowhead whales from the sea ice in spring.
Residents enage in commercial and subsistence fishing from small boats.
A small amount of vessel traffic passes St.Lawrence Island: fuel and supplies for coastal villages and oil fields, ore freighters from a lead/zinc mine northwest of Kotzebue, cruise vessels.