Unveiling Frederick Sound: Alaska’s Breathtaking Marine Realm

Frederick Sound, also known as Prince Frederick Sound, is a captivating marine passage within the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska. Initially charted in 1794 by Captain George Vancouver, it separates Kupreanof Island to the south from Admiralty Island in the north.

Encompassing an expansive 80-mile area from the Stikine River Delta to the confluence of Chatham Strait and lower Stephens Passage, Frederick Sound is a marine wonderland characterized by its rich biodiversity. The waters near Petersburg, a Norwegian fishing village in Alaska, boast a flourishing ecosystem with abundant plankton, diverse fish species, and various marine mammals.

One of the highlights of Frederick Sound’s marine life is the annual visitation of migratory humpback whales. Every spring, approximately 1,000 of the 6,000 humpback whales in the North Pacific make their way to Southeast Alaska, with nearly half of them, around 500 whales, gracing the waters of Frederick Sound. These majestic creatures are drawn to the area’s plentiful herring and krill, essential for their feeding and preparation before their journey back to Hawaii for the birth of their calves.

In addition to humpback whales, the local waters host diverse marine inhabitants, including orcas, sea lions, seals, and porpoises. Sea lions and humpback whales often share the exact feeding locations, creating captivating interactions between these species. Harbor seals can be observed in the water, on icebergs, and among the rocky islets, adding to the vibrant marine tapestry of Frederick Sound.

The region has become a focal point for researchers, wildlife photographers, and ecotourists eager to observe and study these splendid creatures. Petersburg, a major fishing port, accommodates a substantial fleet of commercial vessels and a small charter fleet, providing ample opportunities for visitors to witness the marine spectacle.

Beyond its wildlife allure, Frederick Sound is a bustling marine passageway for Alaska Marine Highway ferries and cruise ships. The sound is adorned with picturesque fjords, bays, and glaciers, including the famous LeConte Glacier—the southernmost tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. This glacier produces a remarkable display of calving icebergs, visible from the fjord’s eastern end. It played a vital role in the founding of Petersburg by Norwegian fishermen who used ice to preserve and transport their catch down the Western seaboard.

Frederick Sound, therefore, transcends being a mere body of water; it stands as a testament to the delicate balance of nature and is a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility to safeguard and conserve such precious ecosystems. It is a marine wonderland, inviting all who encounter its beauty to appreciate and protect the intricate dance of life within its depths.

57°10′36″N 133°54′23″W Petersburg, CA