Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Secondary Site Navigation
— State Game Refuge
Fish and Wildlife
As a major migratory staging area for most of the world's population of black brant, emperor geese and Steller's eiders, and host to thousands of northern pintails, mallards, oldsquaws and scoters, the area has received worldwide recognition as a "Wetland of International Importance." In the fall, black brant arrive to feast on the abundant eelgrass within the lagoon while Taverner's and cackling Canada geese feed on both eelgrass and crowberries. The Taverner's geese also stop by the tens of thousands at Izembek Lagoon in the fall. Emperor geese feed on eelgrass and crowberries and also graze on invertebrates and mussels from the shoreline at low tide. After the geese and dabbling ducks depart for wintering grounds, Steller's, king, and common eiders, black and white-winged scoters, and red-breasted mergansers remain to winter in the ice-free waters of the lagoon. Shorebirds are most numerous in the fall when they probe vast intertidal expanses of mud and sand for food at low tide. Rock sandpipers are among the most common and can be seen year-round. Bald eagles are regularly viewed along the shore.
Most impressive of residents in size, brown bears can often be seen along the shores of Izembek Lagoon feeding on carrion and along the streams feeding on salmon. Wolverine, mink, and river otter also scavenge the beaches. Wolves, red fox, and caribou are commonly seen in the area. Harbor seals haul out on outer beaches of the barrier islands and on exposed sandbars during low tide. Sea otters are numerous within the lagoon.
Five species of Pacific salmon move through Izembek Lagoon on their way to and from their spawning streams. Pacific herring feed in the lagoon. Walleye pollack, greenling, sculpin, Pacific sand lance, cod, capelin, and smelt provide important prey species for birds, mammals, and other fish. Pacific halibut and flounder inhabit the lagoon as well. Concentrations of razor clams are found on the barrier islands.