Makushin Bay: Its Resources and People

Resources from the intertidal, fresh water stream, and shore

This section depicts some of the most important resources available to the people of Makushin Bay, including intertidal shellfish, fish that spawned close to shore or in freshwater streams, and birds that built their nests along the rocky coastline.





Sea urchins -- small echinoderms with spiny outer shells -- provide a delicious meal when they're turned upside down and their eggs are extracted.  Eaten raw, they provide excellent nutrition, and can be harvested any time of year in the Aleutians.

Closeup of blue mussels">Mussels



Mussels, like sea urchins, are almost always available on the rocky shores of the Aleutian Islands.  They have formed an important part of the Unangax diary for thousands of years, as shown by ancient shell middens, or trash heaps.



This chiton, called a "bidarki" in the Aleutians (named after the Russian word for the iqyax or kayak), has delicious meat on its underside.  A quick boil makes for a good meal.  Like other intertidal resources, the bidarkis could be harvested year-round, and by elders as well as mothers and small children.



One of the most important resources of Makushin Bay -- available in the summer when they return to fresh water to spawn -- are salmon.



Herring are easily caught in nets when they school near the shore to spawn, and have always formed a part of the Unangax diet.



Gulls are everywhere in the Aleutian Islands, and their eggs provided an excellent food source.



Puffins build their nests on rocky outcrops, but this did not stop agile Unangax boys from climbing up or being lowered down on ropes to harvest the eggs.





Photo by Mike Whaley