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Logo bar of the Alaska Public Lands Information Centers which are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Tok and Ketchikan
Gray, wet mud flats with ocean and mountains in the background, and a setting sun.
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Mudflats
 
Turnagain Arm Mudflats

The Mudflats in the Cook Inlet

 
Microscopically, the silt particles are laid down in a delicate, loosely oriented pattern by waters that carry them into the inlet. When disturbed by your foot, these particles resettle into a more tightly packed arrangement, making extraction much more difficult. These super-saturated particles, called glacial flour, are ground up by glaciers and carried by streams into the inlet. That’s what gives the waters of many Alaska streams their muddy gray appearance.

Unlike mudflats in other parts of the world, Turnagain and Knik Arms have little year-round life forms. Light cannot penetrate the silty water, so no plants, with the exception of popcorn kelp found on the shoreline, can grow in the arm. The only fish in the arms are migrating salmon and smelt, and the only mammals are those seeking to eat the fish.

Turnagain Arm is a beautiful place and offers a chance to see a unique phenomenon called a bore tide.  The Bay of Fundy is the only other place in North America to witness this tidal display.





 
Distant view of downtown Anchorage from across the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet. Several low skyscrapers are seen across a wide expanse of ocean. Thin, leafy bushes are in the foreground. Did You Know?
Half of Alaska's nearly 700,000 people live in the state's largest city of Anchorage, located on the Anchorage Peninsula at the head of the Cook Inlet.