Alaska, the largest state in the United States, is home to numerous geographical superlatives. Alaska has the northernmost, Point Barrow; easternmost, Pochnoi Point on Semisopochnoi Island in the Aleutians, and westernmost, Amatignak Island in the Aleutians, points in the United States. But how long is Alaska’s coastline?
The coastline of Alaska is longer than that of the other 49 states combined. Yes, Hawaii is included.
The Longest Coastline
While the mainland of Alaska alone places the state at the top of the rankings for longest coastline, Alaska’s more than 2,600 named islands are responsible for the state’s coastline is longer than all other states combined. Alaska has the most islands in the United States, with 2,670.
Alaska has 6,640 miles of coastline and 33,904 miles of shoreline when islands are included. The total tidal shoreline, including islands, inlets, and shoreline to the head of the tidewater, is estimated to be 47,300 miles.
Alaska’s coastline is bordered by the North Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea, the Beaufort Sea, the Chukchi Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. Alaska is the only state that shares two oceans. The parks protect 3,095 miles of Alaska’s coastline. (Source: Geography Realm)
Alaska’s Coastline Geology
Fault tectonics, volcanism, glacial and fluvial processes, sea level variations, and yearly sea ice have all contributed to the formation of Alaska’s coastal geology.
The southeast coast of Alaska is characterized by rugged, rocky coastal sections with sheltered fjords. For the most part, there is no ice.
Coastal erosion along the Arctic coast is chronic, widespread, and likely to worsen due to climate change, posing a threat to critical defense and energy infrastructure, natural shoreline habitats, and local Native people.
The south coast of Alaska is also known as America’s cloudiest region, with some locations experiencing more than 340 cloudy days per year. August is the cloudiest month in Cold Bay, Alaska, with an average of 94.7% cloud cover. (Source: Geography Realm)
Wildlife in Alaska Coastline
The Alexander Archipelago Wolf, also known as the Islands Wolf lives in Alaska’s far north. The Alexander Archipelago islands and a section of coastline separated by the Coast Mountains are home to this small gray coastal wolf.
No other species of the goose breeds as far north as the Pacific Brant, which has breeding grounds along Alaska’s and Canada’s coastal tundra.
Some predators that hunt along Alaska’s coastlines include the Arctic fox, polar bears, and grizzly bears.
The Pacific Walrus can be found on the mainland and on islands in Russia and Alaska.
On rare occasions, Pacific walruses can be found in the relatively shallow waters of the northern Bering and Chukchi seas and the Eastern Siberian and Beaufort seas. Walruses can be seen throughout the Bering Sea, from the Bering Strait to Bristol Bay east to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the west. They also use island haulouts near St. Lawrence Island and the Pribilof Islands.
Whales of various species can be seen in the waters off Alaska’s coasts. Beluga and bowhead whales live in the Arctic and subarctic, whereas humpback, fin, blue, minke, and gray whales live in more southern waters. (Source: Geography Realm)
Image from Nps.Gov