Round Island: A Wilderness
By Marie L. Monyak
January 09, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - Is the plural of walrus, walrii? What
do walrus use their tusks for? How fast can a walrus swim?
What state can lay claim to the largest state park in the nation?
Karen Brand, a Staff Officer with the US Forest Service, Ketchikan-Misty
Fjords Ranger District answered those questions and more, at
the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center this past Friday evening.
Brand's passion about wilderness
and wildlife led her to visit the Walrus Island State Game Sanctuary,
located southwest of Dillingham, Alaska. And as part of the Southeast
Alaska Discovery Center's Fridy Night Insight program, she presented
many pictures from her trip this past summer along with facts
about the walrus and other animals found in the area. Brand also
provided information on how one would plan a trip of this magnitude.
Karen Brand, a Staff
Officer with the US Forest Service, Ketchikan-Misty Fjords Ranger
District, at the Walrus Island State Game Sanctuary.
Photograph courtesy Karen Brand.
Not your typical vacation destination,
Round Island is one of four "haulouts" in Bristol Bay,
often populated with 2,000 to 10,000 walruses. First, before
you start planning to rush off to Round Island, you must first
obtain a permit. The Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation
is responsible for issuing five day permits. Permits currently
cost $50 per person, and the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation
will allow no more than 12 visitors at a time from May through
Brand said tent camping involves nailing your accommodation securely
to plywood platforms to protect your tent from frequent winds
of up to 60 miles per hour. Well maintained trails and
a solitary outhouse are all the conveniences you'll find on this
two-mile by one-mile island devoid of trees. The hearty,
daring visitor is rewarded with five amazing days of observing,
picture taking, listening and sometimes smelling walruses in
their own environment said Brand.
Brand was quick to explain that the plural of walrus is walruses
or just plain walrus. Also, the most often asked question
is about their enormous tusks, which it turns out are nothing
more than elongated canine teeth. According to Brand, the
walrus use their great tusks to pull themselves onto the ice
or in fighting. In the water, a walrus is not nearly as
cumbersome as on land and can reach speeds of 22 mph under water
Walruses of Round Island
Photograph courtesy Karen Brand.
Not to discourage anyone from visiting, Brand did explain what
most Alaskans already know. Traveling within our own state
can often take more than one day and prospective visitors to
Round Island should expect to spend approximately 36 hours en
route. Brand and her party traveled from Ketchikan by way
of Alaska Airlines, Pen Air, a skiff and a fishing boat before
reaching Round Island.
Brand's party also raveled from Round Island to Wood-Tikchik
State Park, which is not only the largest State park in Alaska,
but in the nation, at over 1.6 million acres. After several
more days of camping, sightseeing and boating, Brand's party
began their return trip to Ketchikan. She said they were delighted
to find that one of their conveyances would be a Grumman Goose.
The Friday Night Insight Program is sponsored by the Southeast
Alaska Discovery Center at 50 Main Street every Friday from October
through April at 7 to 8 PM. There is no charge for the
presentations and the theatre is spacious and comfortable with
seating for 200.
This Friday, January 13th,
the presentation will be "Ketchikan Ladies Trails Association
Adventure: Exploring the Stikine River and Beyond."
Sher Schwartz, President of the Ketchikan Ladies Trails Association
(KLTA) and Jim Leslie of Alaska Waters, Inc. in Wrangell will
narrate a slideshow depicting the KLTA's recent 33 mile jet boat
exploration on the Stikine River from Wrangell to Telegraph,
British Columbia. Highlights of the presentation will include
the Glenora Wilderness Ranch, Stikine's Grand Canyon, Telegraph,
and trip planning details. In addition, Schwartz will explain
the mission of Ketchikan Ladies Trails Association (KLTA) and
describe the organization's weekly activities and annual special
On the Web:
Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary
Round Island - Walrus Islands
Travel Tips for Round Island
Friday Night Insight Programs
- January 2006
Marie L. Monyak is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Marie at email@example.com
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