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Kodiak Island

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(907) 486-8766

Maps, Stats, and Facts

Kodiak Northern Latitude 57° 78’ N • 152° 40’ W. 
Location: on the east coast of Kodiak Island at the head of the Aleutian Island chain. Visitors either fly into the City of Kodiak or take the ferry from Homer or Whittier on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System; 250 air miles south of Anchorage, one hour flight with scheduled airlines. Population as of 2006: 13,638 for the City of Kodiak and boroughs which include the six villages: Akhiok, Karluk, Larsen Bay, Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, and Port Lions.  Size:  Kodiak Island Archipelago consists of 16 major islands that cover nearly 5,000 square miles, about the size of Connecticut.  Kodiak Island is roughly 3,588 square miles.  Elevation: Sea level to 4,000 feet.  Sister city: Dragor (4 miles from Copenhagen) Denmark

A special note to all those who are driving to Kodiak, Alaska – give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the Sterling Highway 1 into Whittier or Homer – especially during the spring and fall season.  The snow cap mountain ranges, over-flowing river streams, the peak of wildflowers in the spring and autumn colors in September will remain a memorable experience – we won’t deny.  You will need to board the M/V Tustumena in Homer or the M/V Kennicott from Homer or Whittier and continue your drive on the Alaska Marine Highway – a 12 or 16 hour ferry boat ride across the Gulf of Alaska.   Pinched for funds? Leave the vehicle on the mainland and rent one when you arrive on Kodiak Island – come aboard as a walk-on passenger – don’t forget to get a cabin for a good nights rest!  Kodiak Island has wonderful bed and breakfasts, motels and lodges to accommodate your retreat into the wilderness!

Accolades of being the oldest, cheapest, biggest, best and fulfilling life-long dreams…

  • Compare Ireland’s lush green mountainside landscape, Kodiak Island is referred to as the Emerald Isle.
  • Known for being ancient because of the 5500 BC Alutiiq Petroglyphs depicting colonization.
  • Oldest community for Alaska established in 1792.
  • Oldest Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia established in 1794.
  • Alaska’s oldest building the Russian American Magazine, built in 1808 (National Register of Historic Places) now known as the Baranov Museum (who is celebrating its Bi-Centennial in 2008).  
  • Kodiak Island is included in one of the cheapest land sale in history when Alaska was purchased for 1.9 cents per acre in 1867 from Russia. 
  • City of Kodiak is the largest seaport for Alaska.
  • 2nd largest fishing fleet for the United States.
  • The waters have been judged for best sport fishing. 
  • Guinness Book of World Records lists the record for the Biggest  brown bear as being taken in 1894 from English Bay, Kodiak, Alaska, measuring 13’6” nose to tail (stretched) and weighing 1,656 pounds.
  • Biggest Coast Guard Base as it protects and defends the maritime laws for the United States. 
  • Kodiak also takes personal pride in having John Ben “Benny” Benson, creator of the flag for the Territory of Alaska, a resident for most of his adult life and who was buried in the City Cemetery upon his death in 1972.   At the age of 13, Benny’s design was selected from 700 entries and the flag, made of blue silk and appliquéd gold stars, was first flown on July 9, 1927. 
  • It is often heard that coming to Kodiak Island has been a persons’ life-long dream ~ which the local residents are only too happy to be a part of and able to fulfill.

Tourism
State of Alaska Tourism Board issued the statistics for visitors coming into Alaska in 2007. 

  • The report listed 1.7 million visitors traveled to Alaska; that is up from 1.6 million in 2006. 
  • The cruise ship industry brought in 1 million, while 600,000 flew into Alaska and another 100,000 drove up from the lower 48 or Canada.
  • Tourism continues to be the third highest in revenue for the state with $2.1 billion.

The State of Alaska statistics are listed as a reference because Kodiak’s third highest revenue is tourism as well.  In 2007, Kodiak hospitality industry was hosts to over 30,000 visitors that generated more than $22.6 million to the economy.  The fast pace of the mainland is left behind when the visitors either boards a plane or ferry and view Kodiak’s unparalleled beauty and mystic for the first time out a port hole or from the deck of a ferry boat. 

Soon the guests will come to realize they are the ‘chosen few’ to experience the truest sense of wilderness, observing the brown bears habitats, fishing in pristine waters, kayaking or cruising around the harbor, coves and islands, as well as viewing wildlife up close and personal. 

It appears the local residents wouldn’t have it any other way and welcome the slow growth, yielding only to protection of the wildlife refuge and cultivating a personal relationship with the visitors and those who inhabit the waters and refuges.  Kodiak Island is all about an intimate experience with the forces of nature and it begins with the boutique bed and breakfast inns, fishing boat charters, dinner and harbor cruises, flightseeing tour operators and wilderness lodges – many of whom accommodate four to six guests at a time.   For them, it doesn’t take many reservations to be booked out for the whole season.  Come as visitors, leave as family.

Although peak season is July, August and mid-September, many of the tour operators and innkeepers will agree that the soft-shoulder months i.e. the spring and late fall will continue to be brilliant in wildflowers, melting snowcapped mountains, immigration patterns emerging in the spring and final curtain call with the transformation into fall colors, a new dusting of snowcap mountains and preparation for hibernation.  

Seafood Industry on Kodiak Island

Since the early 1800s, Kodiak’s economy has been based primarily on the fishing industry.  The advent of Russian occupation, with the introduction of salt, paved the way for commercial salmon harvesting.  The first salmon cannery was built on the Karluk spit in 1882 to take advantage of the huge sockeye runs. 

By 1889, five canneries were operating at the mouth of the Karluk River.  Intense competition led to the expansion of commercial fishing into other species of salmon.  The fishery slowed when shore plants and the fishing fleet were badly damaged by the 1964 earthquake and tidal wave. 

As part of the effort to rebuild the industry, one of the immense emergency cargo carriers from World War II known as Liberty Ships arrived in Kodiak in 1965.  Renamed “Star of Kodiak” the ship has been used as a cannery and for frozen seafood processing and has become a Kodiak landmark.

Today a thriving, year-round commercial fishing industry is the economic engine that drives Kodiak.  Kodiak is the largest port for the State of Alaska and consistently ranked as one of the top five fishing ports in the US for volume and value (381 million pounds and $106.2 million respectively).

Kodiak Island is homeport to more than 3,000 vessels and some of Alaska largest trawl, longline and crab vessels.  Kodiak Municipal Harbor is the only Alaska port with facilities to accommodate vessels from 60 feet to 150 feet long, such as crab boats or visiting yachts. There are 19 seafood processing plants and canneries. 

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (Kodiak), the 2007 preliminary estimates show fishing crews harvested over 27.9 million salmon (over 110 million pounds) with an estimated value of $28.19 million.  The breakdowns were as follows:

  • Pink 24.9 million
  • Sockeye 2 million
  • Chum 728,912
  • Coho 355,032
  • King salmon 17,222. 

Area residents hold 1,158 commercial fishing permits.  Approximately 650 people are employed by the harvesting sector while Kodiak’s processing plants employed approximately 1,368 people and have a combined payroll of over $54 million.

Statistics provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Dutch Harbor-Westward Region, the 2006 crab season yielded over 60.1 million pounds of crab (Red King, Snow/opilio, Golden King and Tanner/bairdi) that yielded $115.2 million dollars. 

It is not surprising that Discovery Channel’s popular TV series, the Deadliest Catch, now in its 4th year, captures the dangerous working conditions of its crew during crab season on the Bering Sea.  One vessel, the Cornelia Marie lists Kodiak St. Herman Harbor as its home port and is one of the primary ships being showcased in the 2006-2007 season.  Built in 1989 in Alabama, the steel, twin screw diesel powered commercial fishing vessel Cornelia Marie has two fresh water tanks that hold 1500 gallons each.  It was rebuilt in 1995 and extended to 126 feet.  Owner, Cornelia Marie Devlin has worked in the fishing industry since 1979 and will work on the boat during the summer out of Bristol Bay where it serves as tender for the yearly salmon run.  The remainder of the year, Mrs. Devlin resides in Anchorage managing the business affairs. 

Owner and Captain Phil Harris has been working in the fishing industry for 30 years and Captain of Cornelia Marie for 15 years.  There are five crew members on board including his two sons Jake and Josh, now 22 years old and a one year veteran of crab fishing.  The massive crab pots can weigh up to 800-pounds and without any doubt, crab fishing is considered one of the most dangerous and deadliest occupations. 

The 2007 crab season extends from October to April with the TV series airing in April 2008. Kodiak residents are proud of the owners and crew of the Cornelia Marie and bid them a safe journey through the cold and treacherous waters of the Bering Sea. Two websites for more information: www.corneliamarie.com www.discoverychannel.com/deadliestcatch.  

 

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Kodiak Adventures Unlimited~P.O. Box 4143~Kodiak, Alaska 99615~(907) 486-8766