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Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Gustavus Wildlife Viewing
Gustavus Dock

photo of Gustavus Dock area wildlife Stand on the Gustavus dock and scan the water for the blows of humpback or killer whales in Icy Strait. Closer to the dock, look for Steller sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, marbled murrelets, pigeon guillemots and several species of loons. Bald eagles perch on the dock and along the shore. Northern harriers and short-eared owls hunt over the grasslands along the beach and around the dock. The nutrient-rich Salmon River estuary, a five-minute walk west from the dock, is a good spot to look for wildlife. The beaches around the dock and near the estuary are good spots to see black-bellied plovers, western sandpipers, dunlin, whimbrels and short- and long-billed dowitchers in May and August, when these migrating shorebirds stop to refuel on their long journeys to and from their breeding grounds farther north.


Intertidal areas and beach meadows are important feeding and resting areas for many birds, making the dock area a great birding spot in Gustavus.


  • Eagles
  • Harbor Seal
  • Humpback Whale
  • Killer Whale
  • Loons
  • Marbled Murrelet
  • Peeps and Sandpipers
  • Pigeon Guillemot
  • Plovers
  • Sea Otter
  • Steller's Sea Lion


May is a good month to visit the Salmon River Estuary, when sand lance (slender, five- to eight-inch fish) draw large numbers of bald eagles, harbor seals and other predators.


  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Within Walking Distance


The tides here can change up to 20 vertical feet between high and low, and it is advisable to consult a tide table before wandering too far along the beach. Kayak and boat tours depart from the Gustavus dock to explore the waters of Icy Strait.

Plan to spend at least: 1 - 4 hours

Best Months

█ Best Month

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • Best Month May
  • Best Month June
  • Best Month July
  • Best Month August
  • Best Month September
  • October
  • November
  • December


The Gustavus dock is located south of the main intersection in town, at the end of Gustavus Dock Road.


Gustavus Visitors Association - (907) 697-2454 or

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