Sanak Island is 13 miles (21 km) long and the largest of the Sanak Island group, located 156 miles (252 km) northeast of Dutch Harbor and 48 miles (77 km) southwest of King Cove, Alaska. The name “Halibut” was given to this island by Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy in 1785 because his crew caught more than 100 halibut, weighing from 20 to 100 pounds (9-45 kg), off the coast in 1778. The island was called “Islas des Plies” meaning “islands of fish” by Don Dionisoi A. Galiano in 1802. The name Sanak is from the Aleut language and was first published by G.A. Sarichev as “Sannakh Island” in 1826. The name was shortened to Sanak in 1919 when a post office was established at Sanak village.
Sanak Island is the easternmost of the Aleutian Islands and was inhabited by the Aleut for nearly 7000 years. The European settlement of Sanak Island began with the sea otter fur trade, followed by cod and salmon fishing, fox farming, and cattle ranching through waves of Russian, American, and Scandinavian influence. Sanak Island was abandoned in the 1970s and although uninhabited today, the island is managed as a land trust for the native descendants who live mostly in King Cove on the Alaska Peninsula.
The island is surrounded by reefs that are a considerable hazard to navigation. On June 11, 1913, the Steamship Yukon, bound from Goodnews Bay on the Kuskokwim River to Seattle, stranded in a fog on the northwest end of Sanak Island, on what is now called Yukon Reef, and became a total loss. The Revenue Cutter Tahoma rescued the 3 passengers and 42 crew and conveyed them to Dutch Harbor at Unalaska. Read more here and here. Explore more of Sanak Island and Yukon Reef here: