Tuesday, August 10, 2010

St Paul and the Bering Sea

St Paul is the largest of four volcanic islands which make up the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea (Otter, Walrus, St. George and St. Paul). The Pribilof Islands were discovered and named by the Russian Navigator, Gavriel Pribylov in 1786. In 1788 a group of Russian fur traders enslaved and relocated Aleuts from Siberia, Unalaska and Atka so they could hunt and process fur seals. The descendants of those Aleuts still live on St Paul and St George though the seal hunt today is only allowed for subsistence, not commercial means. In 1867 the islands were passed on to the United States along with mainland Alaska.

The economy of St Paul is mainly based on two fishing seasons; snow crab and halibut. St Paul has garnered fame from the Discovery Channel show "Deadliest Catch" as a safe haven for the crab boats to offload crab and rest at the northern end of the C. opilio fishing grounds. On a good day the Trident Seafood plant processes up to 450,000 pounds of crab and employees up to 400 people.

Along with the small community of Aleut and the seasonal employees at Trident, St Paul is home to over 248 species of birds, northern fur seal, blue fox and reindeer. It's one of the few places left in the world where you can sit quietly for hours and watch the birds fly past without hearing any human influence.

1. Employees of Trident Seafood processing the days Halibut catch.
2. Pribilof Islands Arctic Fox, Alopex lagopus pribilofensis (aka Blue Fox)
3. Horned Puffin, Fratercula corniculata

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