Hall Island, Alaska Cruise Port
Located in the Bering Sea and west of the mainland is the cruise port of Hall Island, Alaska. Uninhabited and wild, it's all of five miles in length and just over six square miles total. Early Russian hunters called it Ostrov Morzhovoy (Walrus Island). The reason is still apparent, as the island is a site where Pacific walruses haul-out; this means the animals temporarily leave the water to head toward land for mating season. The highest peak is called Hall Island High Point, which stands about 1,655 feet high. As how it came to be known as Hall Island, it's surmised that it was named after Lt. Robert Hall, who used to sail with Commodore Joseph Billings of the Imperial Russian Navy (as to why it's not called Billings Island, that's lost to the sands of time). Here are some of our favorite experiences when cruising to Hall Island, Alaska:
- While no permanent dwellings are on the island, there are typically a group of scientists there at any given point. These biologists are here to check on the seabirds, which give good indicators of how the ecosystem is doing. Indeed, Hall Island is a birdwatcher's paradise, with thousands of birds that include kittiwakes, murres, and cormorants. The McKay’s bunting breeds on here and on nearby St. Matthew Island, the only two places in the world that they do so.
- Because the island is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, you'll see protected animals as well as birds. These include Northern sea lions, Arctic foxes, gray whales, and of course, the walruses that gave the island its original name.
- Aspiring botanists will find the island a riot of wildflowers during growing season. Keep an eye out for colorful pink and yellow louseworts and blue Jacob’s ladder, among just a few.
- There is hidden history waiting to be found here, which may have been left behind by the Russians and their Aleut slaves around 1810. Current finds include spikes, nails, and the remains of huts.