Pribilof Islands

Pribilof Islands

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The Pribilof Islands are a group of four volcanic islands, off southwestern Alaska in the Bering Sea. The islands were named for the Russian navigator Gerasim Pribilof, who explored the region in 1786. The islands were part of the 1867 U.S. purchase of Alaska and became a seal reservation in 1868. They are administered by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. The larger of the islands are Saint Paul and Saint George. They are famous as the breeding place of the Alaska fur seal. Prior to 1911, competition and ruthless hunting methods threatened extinction of the seals. At that time, the United States, Great Britain, Japan and Russia entered into the North Pacific Sealing Convention, giving the United States the right to enforce the provisions of the convention. Japan withdrew from the convention in 1941. As a result of the protection, the seal herd has greatly increased. Other animals that can be seen there include blue and white foxes, which are native to the islands. The Aleuts were brought there in the late 1700's by the Russians. They make a living by processing the seal and fox furs.

The Pribilof Islands are about 370 km (230 miles) north of the Aleutian Islands, some 2100 km southwest of Juneau and 5260 km northwest of Washington D.C.

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