Tugidak Island —
Critical Habitat Area
Fish and Wildlife
Tugidak Island attracts some of the greatest diversity of bird life known to nest on and visit any one island in the Gulf of Alaska. Wetland habitats throughout the island provide nesting habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, tundra swans, and loons; and support nesting concentrations of swans, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, green-winged teal, and wigeon. Black brant and white-fronted geese concentrate by the thousands on the lagoon during the fall migration to rest and feed on the rich eelgrass beds and marine life that abounds. Snow geese concentrate on the island during spring migration. Emperor geese winter in the lagoon. Island residents also include ground-nesting bald eagles and several thousand ptarmigan. Arctic terns, cormorants and several thousand glaucous-winged and mew gulls nest on the island as well.
Tugidak Island is perhaps most renowned as historically one of the largest harbor seal pupping and haul out areas in the world with an estimated peak population of 20,500 seals and estimated peak annual pup production of 4,500. For as yet undetermined reasons, this harbor seal population has declined by about 90% in recent years. Sea otters are common in nearshore waters around Tugidak Island. Humpback and gray whales can be spotted seasonally along the shore.
Fish and Shellfish
The shallow waters and large eelgrass beds found in Tugidak Island's lagoon provide an important nursery rearing area for Dungeness crab and feeding area for large numbers of Pacific herring. On the sand bars at the mouth of the lagoon are concentrations of razor clams. Island streams support runs of chum, coho, and pink salmon.