In a state filled with miles
and miles of untamed wilderness, Prince William Sound is one
of Alaska’s crown jewels. Located in the southcentral
part of the state, The Sound is an expansive area of spectacular,
pristine wilderness. It features more than 3,000 miles of
rugged shoreline; quite impressive when considering that it
is 1,660 miles from Portland, Maine to Miami Florida.
Prince William Sound sits
at the convergence of the Pacific and North American tectonic
plates in the famous "ring of fire" and has a long,
moving history beginning some sixty million years ago. This
geological story includes tales of flooding, freezing, thawing,
earthquakes and volcanoes, all of which helped to form the
vistas we enjoy today. More recently, in 1964, the largest
earthquake recorded in North America shook the Sound - uplifting
some areas up 36 feet, while other areas sank up to 8 feet.
The Chugach Mountains - a coastal range which borders Prince
William Sound on the north, east and west and is second in
height only to the Andes - were also created by a combination
of these massive forces.
A journey into the Sound is
almost like exploring a veritable labyrinth of deep water
fjords, islands, bays, passageways, estuaries, and coves decorated
with breathtaking tidewater glaciers, cascading waterfalls,
a dazzling array of wildlife and ample opportunities to feast
bountifully from its waters. In this magical place - the northernmost
temperate rainforest in the world - lush vegetation, including
trees of spruce and hemlock, clings to the mountains bordering
the Sound. Thick layers of snow accumulate and compress into
ice, over time forming awe-inspiring glaciers which descend
to meet the sea or adhere to the earth higher up on the mountain.
The fertile waters of the Gulf of Alaska flow into Prince
William Sound, creating an estuary which supports a dazzling
array of marine life. The variety of habitats found in the
Sound, including kelp beds, wetlands and reefs, is also a
key component in sustaining these proliferous waters. The
Sound teems with thousands of species of fish such as halibut,
cod, rockfish, lingcod, and all five species of salmon. The
mighty salmon shark, a close relative of the great white shark,
inhabits the waters of the Sound as well. In addition, many
other sea dwellers, including shrimp, clams, and scallops
live in the Sound. Further up the food chain, humpback whales,
orcas, gray whales, minke whales, Steller’s sea lions,
porpoises, seals, sea otters and numerous other animals all
frolic in and depend upon the life-sustaining waters of the
Sound. Impressive numbers of Bald eagles call Prince William
Sound home, and numerous other seabirds, including murres,
kittiwakes and puffins, live and migrate through areas of
the Sound. Many terrestrial mammals also are at home here.
Black bears, brown bears (grizzlies), mountain goats and Sitka
black-tailed deer are some of the larger, more notable of
the land inhabitants in Prince William Sound.
Several Alaskan communities
are nestled into the shores of Prince William Sound. Valdez
and Whittier are both accessible by road. Cordova can be reached
by boat or plane. All three communities award residents and
visitors with picturesque views of the Sound while maintaining
their own individual character.
Come journey with us into
Prince William Sound, an exceptional place that both energizes
and enchants its visitors - calling people back to marvel
at its beauty and bounty again and again!
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