Kachemak Bay —
Critical Habitat Area
Fish and Wildlife
The greatest concentrations of birds occur during the spring and fall migration when large flocks of geese, ducks, and shorebirds move through the bay and its associated wetlands. Most of these spring and fall concentrations use traditional staging areas at the head of the bay on the Fox River Flats.
During the spring and summer months, outer Kachemak Bay and nearby waters support the highest seabird densities in Cook Inlet. Gull Island, Grass Island, 60-foot Rock, Hesketh Island, and Point Pogibshi provide nesting habitat for tufted puffins, horned puffins, pigeon guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucous-winged gulls, and common murres. In addition, Kachemak Bay accommodates 90 percent of the overwintering seabird and waterfowl populations of Lower Cook Inlet.
- Complete bird checklist for Kachemak Bay (PDF 182 kB)
Mink and river otters forage along the beaches feeding on marine invertebrates and nearshore fish. Coyote, fox, and an occasional black or brown bear visit the beaches in search of carrion or prey. The shallow and productive nearshore waters along the rocky southern shore provide habitat for sea otters.
Dall porpoise and harbor porpoise commonly feed in the bay. The Dall porpoise is often sighted chasing the bow wake of boats. Harbor seals have been observed at hauling-out areas on Yukon Island, with lesser numbers reported on the Bradley River Flats and several rocks on the southern boundary of the bay. Sea lions, killer whales (orca), beluga whales, and minke whales are commonly found in Kachemak Bay. Occasionally humpback and finback whales and walrus are sighted.
Fish and Marine Invertebrates
Kachemak Bay supports some of the richest marine invertebrate communities in all of Cook Inlet. Sea ducks, diving ducks, shorebirds, marine fish, and small mammals feed heavily upon the clams, mussels, snails, worms, and other marine invertebrates found on the mudflats and rocky/gravel beaches of inner Kachemak Bay. The south side of Kachemak Bay is lined with rocky shores and kelp beds interspersed with pocket beaches of sand and gravel, which support productive intertidal and subtidal marine life. The north side of Kachemak Bay including the Homer Spit is composed primarily of gravel and sand. Razor, cockle, and red-necked clams can be found there.
Kachemak Bay is an important fish and shellfish rearing area, with historical abundance of herring; salmon; halibut; king, Tanner, and Dungeness crab; and pink, spot, humpy, side-stripe, and coon-stripe shrimp.