Chignik Lake

The Chignik Lake system consists of two interconnected lakes on the Alaska Peninsula (56°16’N Lat., 158°50’W Long.), draining south to the Gulf of Alaska. This system is adjacent to the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge and the Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve. Terrestrial communities include deciduous scrub and alpine tundra. Mt. Veniaminof (2,560 m), an active volcano, is within 25 km of the station. Chignik Lake and Black Lake are relatively small (22 and 41 km², respectively) but are markedly different in average depth (60 m vs. <4 m) and associated limnological characters (water temperature, date of ice breakup, primary productivity, etc.). These lakes are influenced by marine climate from the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. Primary productivity and density of fishes are high relative to other Alaskan lakes.

Our primary facility is located at the outlet of Chignik Lake, the lower of the two lakes, near Chignik village and is capable of supporting four biologists. The facility is powered by a 5-kw generator and includes a wet lab and maintenance shop. A telephone is available at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 2 km down river. Food and supplies are generally purchased from the nearby salmon cannery in Chignik Lagoon, which may also be used for major equipment repairs or metal work. Flights the Chignik Lake village come from King Salmon. Two 16′ boats powered by 70-hp or 40-hp outboard motors and a 13′ Boston Whaler powered by a 40-hp motor are available. A large shelter (without electricity) is also maintained at Black Lake. Special features of the Chignik Lake–Black Lake system include the following:

  • recent volcanic history,
  • abundant wildlife,
  • unusually high productivity,
  • unique morphology of the two lakes,
  • sedimentation and associated changes in the morphology of the river connecting the lakes, and
  • proximity of freshwater, coastal lagoon and marine waters.