KUCB KIAL Unalaska Community Broadcasting

ST. PAUL

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Look to the farthest end of the Aleutian chain, so far west that it’s actually east, and you’ll find the Komandorski Islands of Russia.

In 1867, the Alaska Purchase separated them from the rest of the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. But today, people across the archipelago are still connected by a common history.

A recent cultural exchange helped to renew those ties, bringing Russians and Alaskans together on St. Paul Island.

TRANSCRIPT

Music 

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

For the last century, reindeer have roamed St. Paul Island without much oversight.

But now, the tribal government is stepping up its management style to boost subsistence options and the local economy.

Fleshy red reindeer quarters are spread across the tables of St. Paul’s tavern. Surrounding them are eager preteens, wielding knives and wearing plastic gloves.

“I don’t think we can cut through this bone," says one student. "It’s like that thick.”

“No! You don’t want to cut through the bone," a teacher responds. 

Pipa Escalante/KUCB

The only air carrier for the Pribilof Islands is asking for financial support to keep its remote market afloat.

PenAir has requested the U.S. Department of Transportation subsidize flights to St. Paul and St. George Islands, which are guaranteed Essential Air Service.

Courtesy of Jared Weems

In the Pribilof Islands, no one’s gotten an accurate count of blue king crab since the population crashed hard in the 1980s.

This summer, a marine biologist is trying to change that, with the species’ first in-depth study in more than 30 years.

His ultimate goal: Determine if blue crab can make a comeback — or if it’s gone for good.

It’s a foggy day on St. Paul Island, and Jared Weems  is itching for the weather to clear up. He wants to get out on the water and back to work.

Celeste Leroux/Alaska Sea Grant

 

The last commercial harvest of Pribilof Island blue king crab was in 1999. Extremely low population numbers have kept that fishery closed.

“They’re almost like unicorns in the trawl survey now,” said Lauren Divine, co-director of St. Paul’s Environmental Conservation Office. “There are very, very, very few being found. When you find one it’s kind of unreal. It’s kind of surreal. ”

Pages