The International Brant Monitoring Project
Observation area:
Izembek Lagoon, Cold Bay, Alaska

The Izembek Lagoon observation area is located near Cold Bay, Alaska (large scale map) at the tip of the Alaska Peninsula (small scale map). The southern Alaska Peninsula's maritime climate is dominated by low pressure systems traveling across the Bering Sea and northern Pacific Ocean. These low pressure systems are responsible for the characteristic high winds and overcast skies. Although most days are "meteorologically challenged," temperatures are fairly moderate with summer and winter highs averaging 50xF (11xC) and 28xF (-2xC), respectively. Green grass appears in June and by July a myriad of flowers emerge. Fall arrives with the return of the waterfowl in mid-September and by January, winter has made a grand entrance bringing with it winds that can blow more than 80 knots. Although we are in the "Land of the Midnight Sun," our days never last more than 18 hours, and during the winter we get at least 7 hours of sun each day.

Click on the mountain to go to the web page for Izembek Wildlife Refuge

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge spans the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. The refuge staff is responsible for four administrative units encompassing almost three million acres of land and water: Izembek Refuge (417,000 acres); the Pavlof and North Creek Units of the Alaska Peninsula Refuge (1.5 million acres); and Unimak Island in the Alaska Maritime Refuge (slightly over a million acres).

Izembek Refuge protects the watershed of Izembek Lagoon, a State Game Refuge containing one of the largest eelgrass beds in the world. This estuary serves as an international crossroad to migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. The world's population of Pacific brant, thousands of Canada geese, and other waterfowl congregate on the lagoon from late August through early November. Each spring and fall the entire population of emperor geese migrate through Izembek, with several thousand wintering here. The colorful Steller's eider, a threatened species which nests on the Arctic coast of Alaska and Siberia and molts on Izembek Lagoon in fall, is the most common wintering duck. Izembek Refuge provides the final opportunity for many migrating shorebirds to feed and rest before their long over-water flights to wintering areas as far away as South America, Polynesia, and New Zealand.

Numerous species of seabirds and marine mammals inhabit the surrounding marine environment, including:. harbor seals, sea otters Steller sea lions, and Gray, Killer, and Minke whales. The refuge is also home to many species of land birds and mammals including: Tundra swans, ptarmigan, and bald eagles, snow buntings, gray-crowned rosy finches, Lapland longspurs, and other migratory songbirds. Brown bears are abundant, feeding at streams rich with thousands of spawning sockeye, chum, coho, and pink salmon. Other mammals on the Arctic-alpine landscape include caribou, wolves, red fox, river otter, mink and wolverine. Small mammals such as Arctic ground squirrels, voles, and shrews flourish in the tundra. Less common are tundra hares, jumping mice, and lemmings.

Flyway map