Overview: Encountering Environmental Hazards on Alaska’s Coasts

Coastline cleanup from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spillPreparing for oil dispersant testing at Quayle Beach, Smith lsland (Prince William Sound), after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Public domain from the EVOS ARLIS reference

Climate change and other forces are altering the environment of Alaska’s coast and waterways. If you have encountered an unusual event on the coast, this site can help. It provides information on several issues Alaska coastal communities are facing, and what to do and whom to contact if you experience one of them.

Alaska’s shoreline, including islands, is nearly 34,000 miles in length, more than one-third the total length of the US shoreline. This expansiveness makes monitoring extremely difficult for state and federal agencies. Reporting unusual findings can greatly help those agencies tasked with protecting the marine environment. But exactly what do you report, and to whom? For example, if you walk down the beach and come across a beached whale, or hundreds of dead birds, or a species you have never seen before, what agency should you call? How do you know if the situation is serious? What action should you take? Many answers are available here.

To learn more about a hazard or issue you have encountered, choose the specific issue from the menu on this page.

Reporting hazards as you come across them can help scientists and agencies monitor changes in our marine ecosystems, protect the marine resources Alaskans rely on, and minimize damage to the marine environment.

For climate change adaption tools, fact sheets, videos and more, visit Adapting to Climate Change in Coastal Alaska.

LEO - The Eyes, Ears and Voice of Our Changing Environment

To learn more about observations and events reported across Alaska, visit the Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network webpage. LEO is composed of experts who collect observations about unusual environmental events in their communities. They apply local and traditional knowledge, western science, and modern technology to record and share observations and to raise awareness about conditions in the circumpolar north. LEO participants are in more than 100 communities in Alaska and Canada.