Fish trap

Rocks alignments represent the remains of an intertidal fish trap found on Kodiak Island.

A stone fish trap dating to prehistoric times was located recently on northern Kodiak Island

Archaeologists from the Alutiiq Museum made the discovery during a survey of Afognak Native Corporation land. However, the fish trap falls below the mean high tide line and is therefore on state land. 

The trap is approximately 150 meters long and consists of one semi-rectangular and one u-shaped corral. A gap separates the two corrals, according to the release. 

The trap is positioned in the intertidal zone near the mouth of a salmon stream. When the tide would come in, the trap would be submerged, allowing salmon to swim over. The water would eventually fall below the corrals at low tide, stranding fish inside. 

According to Alutiiq Museum archaeologist Patrick Saltonstall, this type of fishing was used often along the coast from Oregon to southeast Alaska. 

“This recent find illustrates that people used this technology as far north as Kodiak,” he said. Despite this being the first fish trap found on the island, Saltonstall was not surprised by the find. 

“Many lines of archaeological evidence indicate that Alutiiq ancestors developed tools to efficiently harvest large quantities of fish. A fish trap is another great example,” he said. 

The team of archaeologists also identified a new set of petroglyphs. 

The petroglyphs, which consist of holes and lines carved into a slate slab, were found on the shore near the trap on Afognak Native Corporation land. 

“These petroglyphs are different than the human faces and animals carved on boulders at Cape Alitak or along the shore of Afognak Bay, but they closely resemble petroglyphs found beside other salmon streams in the archipelago. These carvings may be a territorial marker, but their meaning is unknown,” the release states. 

The survey is being conducted as part of a two-year Afognak Native Corporation effort funded by a U.S. National Park Service Tribal Heritage Grant to map important cultural sites on the corporation’s 248,000 acres of land. The mapping will allow the native corporation to implement land management policies that protect archaeological sites. The survey, in its second and final year, has uncovered a number of historical sites, including fox farms and an abandoned gold mine located on Whale Island this spring.

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