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Natural History


The Island

Five Finger Island sits over three miles away from the North American mainland, in the middle of a wide channel along the inside passage. It is a small island by Alaskan standards, at just around 3 acres, with its highest point at roughly 60ft (19m). However small, it is still rich with plant and animal life both in the water and above. The island sits on the thrust fault separating Alexander terrane from Taku terrane. The rock composition of the island is primarily volcanic, a mix of andesite flows and volcanic breccias of the Jurassic and Cretaceous age (though no fossils have been found yet, there are thought to be some!). 


The Water

The waters around Five Finger Island are in a convergence zone with major upwellings and strong currents. This mixing effect creates water densely packed with nutrients and an abundance of sea life. This area is a summer feeding ground for the Eastern North Pacific population of humpback whales (pictured) (Megaptera novaeangliae). Besides those gentle giants we have sea lions (Otariidae spp), harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), killer whales/orca (Orcinus orca), dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli), sea otters (Enhydra lutris), hundreds of fish species, vibrant kelp forests and tidepools, and many other marine mammals as well. 



We have a plethora of amazing wildflower, lichens, mosses, berries, and even orchids, native to the island. Our personal favorites include: chocolate lily (Fritillaria biflora), fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium), fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa), thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), dwarf dogwood (pictured) (Cornus canadensis), and fish net lichen (Ramalina menziesii). The island is also home to one posinous plant, the deadly berry, baneberry      (Actaea sp).



The island is home to a plethora of birds, from seabirds to songbirds, including the majestic bald eagle (pictured) (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Our favorite birds include the anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna), black oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani), and black turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala). We also have numerous intertidal animals clinging to life between the land and the sea such as sea anenome (Actiniaria spp), sea star (Asteroidea spp), and chiton (Polyplacophora spp), but we do not have any land mammals. Occasionally an intrepid river otter (Lontra canadensis) has climbed ashore, but with the island being more than three miles from the mainland it is a long swing for most mammals! 

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