Tuxedni Bay is located midway along the west shore of Cook Inlet. It is 7 km wide at its mouth and narrows rapidly as it extends inland 20 km to the face of Tuxedni Glacier and the braided delta of the Tuxedni River. Two active volcanoes, Mt. Illiamna and Mt. Redoubt, both over 10,000 feet, flank the bay and vent steam from their snow capped peaks. Chisik and Duck islands are located at the mouth of Tuxedni Bay. The largest seabird colony in Cook Inlet is found on these islands.
Tuxedni Bay supported 20 percent of the 1.2 million shorebirds using western Cook Inlet intertidal areas in 1997 and 1998 (1). Between 52,000 and 74,000 Western Sandpipers used the bay during spring migration in 1994-1996 (1). Tuxedni Bay was identified as a potential International Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site, using criteria of >100,000 birds or >15% of a species' flyway population (1).
Geese utilize this site primarily during fall migration, when 4,400 Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) were observed . Similarly. Although they do not breed here, 4-5 thousand scoters (Melanitta sp.) concentrate in Tuxedni Bay for molting and feeding throughout the summer and fall. Surf Scoters (M. perspicillata) are the dominant species and represent roughly 80 percent of scoters in Tuxedni Bay. White-winged Scoters (M. fusca) represent about 19 percent, and Black Scoters (M. nigra) represent less than 1 percent. Oldsquaws (Clangula hyemalis) are common in the spring .
Species of conservation concern present at the site that do not meet criteria thresholds include the Black Scoter, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Surfbirds and Whimbrels. Common Eiders (Sommateria mollissima v-nigrum) breed in the vicinity . Peregrine Falcons nest along the Tuxedni Bay coastline (4 nests in 1996).
Waterbirds: passage; counts throughout 1990's; 23,500 to 67, 830; 4biv G, 4bi G.
Over 60,000 breeding seabirds (11 species) were counted at Chisik Island in 1979. Species of conservation concern (Alaska Audubon Watchlist) which are present but do not meet the criteria include: the Common Eider (200-300 birds) and Black Oystercatchers (6 birds). Significant numbers of Common Murres (22,500), Glaucous-winged Gulls (2000), and Horned Puffins (6000) breed here as well. Eagles and peregrine falcons visit the island for the occasional meal.
Chisik Island has no trails and one U.S. Forest Service cabin for rent. Camping is unrestricted. Hunting is not allowed, but fishing is permitted, with salmon being sought most often. Small planes and boats land here, but sudden winds and rough waters make access risky.
Federal - the entire bay is contained within the boundaries of the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. It was nominated as a WHSRN site, but never formally designated as such.
Shoreline: 66 km
Vegetated Intertidal: 8 km2
Unvegetated Intertail: 52 km2
An understory of salmonberry, alder, and other brushy growth forms an impenetrable, wet jungle over much of Chisik, filling the few openings in the spruce-hemlock forest. The higher elevations are alpine tundra.
Major vegetation types include: 1)coastal western hemlock-Sitka spruce forest; 2) high brush; 3) alpine tundra; and 4) moist tundra.