The Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary protects a group of seven small craggy islands and their neighboring waters in northern Bristol Bay, about 65 miles southwest of Dillingham.
The Sanctuary includes Round Island, Summit Island, Crooked Island, High Island, Black Rock, and The Twins. The Sanctuary was established in 1960 to protect one of the largest terrestrial haul-out sites in North America for Pacific walrus.
The Sanctuary, managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, protects important habitats for several species of seabirds, Steller Sea Lions, and other marine and native birds and mammals.
Male walrus return to these haul-outs every spring to feed as the ice pack recedes, covering these beach sites for several days between each feeding foray. The number of walrus using the island fluctuates significantly from year to year. However, up to 14,000 walrus have been counted on Round Island in a single day.
A part of the island group is of archaeological importance, with many deeply stratified sites encompassing 6,000 years of human use. Crooked Island, Summit Island, and Round Island were designated the Walrus Islands Archeological District, a National Historic Landmark District embracing 14 historical sites.
A visit to these raw and wild islands is akin to taking a remarkable journey back in time.
All images © Dave Parkhurst www.TheAlaskaCollection.com