Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
April 2009

Alaska South Coastal Wildlife Viewing Guide

By Riley Woodford

Alaska’s coastline between Prince William Sound and the Aleutian Islands offers exceptional opportunities to watch wild animals and birds. Spectacular sea bird rookeries, whales and other marine mammals, and the world’s largest brown bears can be found along this 900-mile route, plied by the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway.

Alaska’s South Coastal Wildlife Viewing Guide is a colorful new 112-page guide to wildlife watching opportunities in the region. It highlights viewing opportunities along the route of the Southcentral ferry and the Southwest ferry – from Cordova to Homer, and then down to Kodiak and southwest to Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island.

“The book details the viewing opportunities you’d see from the ferry,” said Beth Peluso, co-author, editor and project manager. “The landmarks along the way like seabird colonies, places you’re likely to see whales feeding, and other notable spots.”

Peluso directs the Wildlife Viewing Program at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The department produced the book in partnership with the Marine Highway, and Peluso oversaw the publication. “This is the culmination of a two-year project,” she said. “It’s a companion to the Inside Passage Viewing Guide, part of the Alaska Coastal Wildlife Viewing Trail.”

caption follows
Wildlife watchers viewing bears

About half the Southcoastal Guide is dedicated to highlights along the route, such as Castle Cape near Chignik, and to featured stopovers such as Homer and Kodiak. The other half of the book presents the birds and mammals of the region and their habitats, bear safety, and wildlife viewing hints and tips.

“It’s a way to better appreciate what you are seeing, and understand more about the wildlife. It can also help increase your skills as a wildlife viewer,” Peluso said.

Scott Edwards of Quincy, California, and his wife Amber did the Homer to Dutch Harbor portion of the trip several years ago in late June. At times the ferry ably handled 20-foot swells, other times the water was flat calm. The bird watching was outstanding. Edwards said seeing Steller sea eagle was a high point of the trip.

The guide will be available this spring in a number of Alaska bookstores and visitor centers, and through Peluso expects that it will be available on the ferries as well by the summer season. The retail cost is $5.95.

Subscribe to be notified about new issues

Receive a monthly notice about new issues and articles.