Bald eagle hitches ride on ship from Seward to Nome
A bald eagle is an uncommon sight here in Nome and people do take note when a majestic bird like that shows up in Nome proper. When on August 5 pictures began to appear on social media of a single bald eagle hanging around the Nome boat harbor, feeding on fish and even a rabbit, curious minds began to investigate.
It turned out that this particular bird arrived in Nome in quite an unusual way: it hitched a ride on a boat from Seward.
Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts confirmed that this is a true tale. “Yes, the eagle arrived with the research vessel Ocean Starr, on August 5, from Seward,” Stotts said. The Ocean Starr, on a Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Survey cruise in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, left Seward in stormy weather and the bald eagle had hunkered down in the ship’s crow’s nest. As the weather did not improve along the way during the week-long transit, wind and waves battering the ship, the bird apparently decided to stay put. Stotts said that the eagle, probably delighted to see land, took off when the ship was within two miles of Nome. The bird hung around the Nome harbor for about a week, Stotts said. It got to feast on rabbit and the abundant salmon. Just last week, an eagle was spotted on mile 15 of the Kougarok Road, but it was not clear if it was the same individual eagle. The Ocean Starr could not be immediately reached for comment as the ship had left Nome. It is scheduled to arrive in Nome again on Sept. 14.
Last year, a bald eagle was seen roaming on the Beam Road. Bird experts say that it is not all too uncommon to have bald eagles present near Nome, Dexter or Council. Nesting pairs have been reported on the Fish River, Koyuk and further south in Norton Sound.
Toby Anungazuk Jr. of Golovin last week contacted the Nugget and related his encounter with a different bald eagle: “We’ve seen bald eagles here in Golovin, maybe closest one for me before today was about 150’ away, and some young ones, too. Today was the first time one ever landed close to me and I didn’t even hear it land.
He finished cutting four silvers and was getting ready to go home when he noticed the eagle. “It was just a few feet away and it was looking at me and then the filleted fish, repeatedly back and forth, like it really wanted the fish, so I cut off the pieces of the silver that we eat last.”
As he didn’t bring his phone, he motioned to another man working further down the beach. “I kept waving and pointing at the eagle,” Anungazuk related. Dale Aukongak came over and took photos with his cell phone. Anungazuk thanked Dale for taking the pictures and “the eagle for my eagle moment of the day. When I was giving it pieces of fish it let me get a couple steps away, that was it’s boundary.”
THIS IS AN UPDATED VERSION, REFLECTING A CORRECTION THAT THERE WON'T BE ANY PUBLIC SHIP TOURS AVAILABLE ON THE OCEAN STARR.