"The most amazing place on earth"











Your Subtitle text

Founded: 1943
Population: 441
Land Area: 40.3 sq miles
Saint Paul Island is the largest of the Pribilof Islands, a group of five Alaskan volcanic islands located in the Bering Sea between the United States and Russia. The city of St. Paul is the only residential area on the island. The two nearest islands to Saint Paul Island are Otter Island to the southwest, and Walrus Island to the east. St. Paul Island has a land area of 40 square miles. St. Paul Island currently has one school (K-12, 100 students), one post office, one bar, one small store, and one church (the Russian Orthodox Sts. Peter and Paul Church). The church is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.



History and Culture
The Pribilofs, named after the Russian navigator, Gavriel Pribylov, were discovered in 1786 by Russian fur traders; no Alaska Natives are known to have lived on the island prior to this point. They landed first on St. George and named the larger island to the north St. Peter and St. Paul Island. In 1788, the Russian-American Company enslaved and relocated Aleuts from Atka and Unalaska to the Pribilofs to hunt fur seals; their descendants live on the two islands today. In 1870, the now-American owned Alaska Commercial Company (formerly the Russian-American Company) was awarded a 20-year sealing lease by the U.S. Government, and provided housing, food and medical care to the Aleuts in exchange for seal harvesting. In 1890, a second 20-year lease was awarded to the North American Commercial Company, however, the fur seals had been severely over-harvested. Only an estimated 2,000 fur seals remained.[4] The 1910 Fur Seal Treaty ended private leasing on the islands and placed the community and fur seals under the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. Food and clothing were scarce, social and racial segregation were practiced, and working conditions were poor.



During World War II, as the Imperial Japanese Army threatened the Aleutians, the 881 Aleuts on the Pribilof islands were forcibly removed, with no more than several hours notice, to internment in abandoned salmon canneries and mines in Southeast Alaska until May 1944. The Aleut men were brought back to the islands temporarily in the summer of 1943 to conduct the fur seal harvest for the federal government, seal oil being used in the war effort.[5] Most Aleuts from the Pribilofs were imprisoned at Funter Bay on Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska. In 1979, the Aleut people from the Pribilof islands received $8.5 million in partial compensation for the unfair and unjust treatment they were subject to under federal administration between 1870 and 1946. In 1983, Congress passed the Fur Seal Act Amendments, which ended government control of the commercial seal harvest and most of the federal presence on the island. Responsibility for providing community services and management of the fur seals was left to local entities. USD$20 million was provided to help develop and diversify the Island economy—USD$12 million to St. Paul and USD$8 million to St. George. Commercial harvesting on St. Paul ceased in 1985. Ownership of fur seal pelts is now prohibited except for subsistence purposes.



Nature and wildlife

Birds
No fewer than 248 species of birds have been recorded on the island. In spring, many rare birds, including Siberian vagrants, may be spotted on the island.
Northern Fur Seals
One of the most notable sights on the island are the northern fur seal rookeries. In late May, the male seals arrive and stake out their territory in preparation for the arrival of the females. On June 1, the rookeries are closed and remain off limits until mid-October. Thereafter, these marine mammals may be viewed, by permit, from blinds at two rookeries.
Harbor seals, sea lions, walrus, whales
Harbor seals breed on Otter Island, several miles southwest of St. Paul Island, but nonetheless are often seen off St. Paul shores. Occasionally, Steller Sea Lions haul out on St. Paul, but usually take refuge in the rookery at Walrus Island, some 10 miles northeast of St. Paul. On extremely rare occasions, Grey whales, Orcas, and walrus are observed offshore.
Blue fox
Blue fox, a subspecies of the Arctic fox, is small. Endemic to the island, the fox can be found roaming the hills and climbing the cliffs as it scavenges for food. Though clearly able to capture the occasional seagull, foxes near the town prefer to scavenge garbage and explore the fishing docks and Processing Plant. Kits hide under storage containers and gobble a fisherman's offered scraps. Some kits shed their dark color much faster than their siblings and adopt a fluffy white/grey coat by mid-September. Foxes inhabiting areas farther from the human dwellings boast a more aggressive and territorial manner. Edging the fur seal rookeries, the two species cohabit easily.
Reindeer
A large herd of reindeer roam the island. Of domesticated Russian stock, the reindeer were introduced to the island in 1911.



Website Builder