St Paul Island, Alaska

St Paul is one of the Pribilof Islands, a group of four small sub-Arctic islands located 290 miles (467 km) from the Alaskan coast. Originally colonized by Russians and Aleuts (from the Aleutian Islands), St Paul is now part of Alaska. Being centrally located in the bountiful Bering Sea makes the Pribilof Islands an ideal place for seals and seabirds to congregate. Millions of northern fur seals, puffins, murres, kittiwakes and auklets migrate here in summer to breed. The extraordinary concentration of wildlife has lead to St Paul Island being dubbed the 'Galapagos of the north' and has attracted two main predators: Arctic foxes, which prey on seabirds; and humans, who originally came to harvest seal fur. Today the fur trade has ended but the mortal struggle between foxes and seabirds continues. To avoid becoming fox prey, seabirds nest precariously on small cliff ledges to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. Foxes require daring and skill to catch enough birds to feed their litter of kits for the summer. Some Pribilof Island foxes also patrol the northern fur seal rookeries to scavenge seal carcasses and take weak, unattended pups. Being isolated on these remote islands has resulted in the foxes developing into a distinct subspecies - the Pribilof Islands Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus pribilofensis).

Back to Image Galleries