Hawk Inlet News


Scientific Sampling In Hawk Inlet Reveals Serious Toxicity Levels

A Report and Summary compiled by the Friends of Admiralty Island, March 31, 2018



A 2015 field reconnaissance study conducted by Friends of Admiralty Island indicates that metals in Hawk Inlet sediment are significantly higher than the pre-mining baseline in the inlet and in Piledriver Cove, suggesting it is a result of mining activities. Hawk Inlet shellfish have high levels of heavy metals compared to elsewhere in Alaska and compared to historic levels in the inlet. The pattern of metals suggests considerable bioaccumulation of arsenic, copper, lead, nickel and zinc in several deeper dwelling edible and key food web invertebrates. This corroborates data observed in the mine’s annual polychaete (worm) metal analysis, but the latter patterns are less clear because only shallow dwelling, filter-feeding mussels were sampled. READ MORE>>

Background for this Hawk Inlet News:

The Legacy of Hawk Inlet – No Irreparable Harm
(1/23/16) by K.J. Metcalf - READ NOW>>

Who Will Speak For Them?

I shared our initial findings with Tlingit Elder David Katzeek, Klukwan Thunderbird Elder and Joey Zuboff, Deisheetaan (Raven Beaver) Clan Leader of Angoon. Their look was as one of great loss. After a moment of silence David, his voice raising, said, "Can you hear them? They are calling - they are crying - the salmon people, the seal people, all of the creatures of the sea are calling. Who will hear them? Who will speak for them? That is what our elders would ask, who will speak for them?" READ MORE>>

The Seal Report

The Legacy Cove Project field team was provided with an opportunity to examine and analyze parts of harbor seal contributed by an Angoon subsistence hunter in May 2015. We made a visual assessment of the muscle, blubber, liver and kidney tissues donated from a single seal and had each tissue analyzed for eleven trace metals and organic contaminants. The seal, a large adult male, appeared to be in good health. The stomach was empty but did have harbor stomach roundworm parasites. The seal’s liver contained a very high concentration of total mercury. Silver, selenium and nickel were elevated relative to typical levels reported in scientific literature for marine mammals in Alaska and elsewhere. READ MORE>>


Wild Food Report

Clams, crab, shrimp, seaweed and many other ocean delicacies are revered traditional and personal use wild foods available to northern Southeast Alaskans from special habitats during specific tidal patterns throughout the year. Hawk Inlet off of Chatham Strait is just such a habitat. Government-directed monitoring of seafloor worms and mussels in Hawk Inlet has shown that metals from the Greens Creek Mine ore body are present in the Hawk Inlet foodweb. For this reason, we conducted a reconnaissance survey to explore whether heavy metals were also accumulating in seafood species or whether their habitats or populations had been affected by the industrial mine operating in uplands of the Admiralty Island National Marine Monument and adjacent seaways. To examine this question, cockles, clams, black seaweed, crab and shrimp were analyzed for eleven trace metals: arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), manganese (Mn), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se), silver (Ag) and zinc (Zn) from Hawk Inlet.

Results show that shrimp, crab, butter clams, cockles and blue mussels from Hawk Inlet have higher concentrations of As, Cd, Cr, Pb (except butter clams), Ni (except cockles) and Se than Alaska-wide seafood data for the same species. Most metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Ni, Se, Ag, Zn) are higher in Hawk Inlet blue mussels than reported for the NOAAdirected, Alaska-wide environmental monitoring program called Mussel Watch. As, Cr, Cu, Pb, Ni and Se levels in Hawk Inlet blue mussels are two to five times higher in concentration in 2015 than levels reported as 1978, 1981 and 1984- 1989 baseline levels measured prior to full operation of the industrial mine in the Hawk Inlet watershed. READ MORE>>