Web posted Wednesday, May 8, 2002

photo: people

Shorebirds by the thousands flock to Kachemak Bay every year.

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

Headquartered in Homer, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge consists of 4.9 million acres of headlands, islands and rock pinnacles around the entire coastline of Alaska. Many species of seabirds including puffins, auklets, murrelets and murres, as well as marine mammals such as sea otters, walrus and sea lions make the refuge their home.

A visitor center (235-6961) is located at 451 Sterling Highway, across from Homer Middle School. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day it is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with reduced hours during the spring and fall.

Exhibits, displays and videos describing the marine environment can be viewed free of charge at the center. Information about wildlife and the refuge as well as children's programs, guided bird walks and beach walks are also featured.

The refuge co-sponsors the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, which this year is set for May 9-12. Guided bird watching, talks, children's activities and a variety of other events will be part of the festival.

Refuge naturalists also accompany the state ferry Tustumena on trips from Homer to Seldovia, Kodiak and Dutch Harbor. They offer interpretive programs and wildlife sighting and identification assistance.

A new visitor center is planned and should open in 2004.