Our Beautiful World

KAMCHATKA, Russia  
The Sealife of Kamchatka


Sealife on bottom off Kamchatka
Copyright ©: Steve Jones, Adventure Photographs




6. The Sealife of Kamchatka



Sealife on bottom off Kamchatka
Copyright ©: Steve Jones, Adventure Photographs


King of the Rivers of Kamchatka: The Salmon


The annual salmon run on Kamchatka brings millions of salmon back
to their spawning grounds after 3-4 years at sea.

Courtesy: http://www.kamchatkapeninsula.com/


Up to one quarter of the world's Pacific salmon population spawns in the pristine rivers of Kamchatka.
Every year in mid June the main event in the life of Kamchatka's rivers and lakes begins,
i.e. salmon spawning. Billions of salmons obeying a powerful ancient instinct come back from
the sea to streams and rivers, where they must complete their life cycle.

Thousands of dead salmons turn into life-giving silt mixing with poor soil of Kamchatka.
And spawned and fertilized grains of roe keep lying in the holes considerately made by the
parent at the bottom. A year later fries (young fish) leave Kamchatka for the sea till the
moment when the unmerciful instinct takes them back to the native shores.


Courtesy: http://www.travelkamchatka.com

The development of Kamchatka turned a troublesome side to salmon. However, the sensible approach
to economy can prevail. It was possible to save actual inviolability of Kamchatka's "pearl" - the Kurilsky lake,
the biggest Asian salmon spawning-ground.

Illegal fishing costs Kamchatka hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost revenue,
may be as much as US$ 7 billions a year. Organized gangs harvest the salmon illegally for
their red caviar, a delicacy that sells for US $ 22 a kilogram in Russian shops.

"They have a well-organized system. They come in by helicopter, strip out the caviar and
throw away the fish", says one representative. The federal fishing regulators are almost
powerless. They have only two helicopters to watch Kamchatka's fourteen thousand rivers,
and they need a major increase in the number of fishing wardens.

Large scale organized poaching excists. Blocking rivers with nets, poachers can strip an
entire year's salmon run, weakening the diversity of the salmon and reducing their long-term
capacity for survival.





Killerwhales
Picture by N.Pavlov,
Courtesy: http://www.kamchatkapeninsula.com/

The orca or killer whale is a toothed whale that is an efficient predator, even attacking huge
young blue whales. Their only enemy is human beings. Orcas live in small, close-knit,
life-long pods and have 1 blowhole. The killer whale belongs to the family of dolphins
and is the biggest dolphin. It is sometimes called the "wolf of the sea" because its behavior
is similar to that of wolves.

From http://www.enchantedlearning.com/


Komandorsky / Commander Islands

From: Encarta.msn.com, World Atlas
(See also the Kamchatka-map)

The Commander Islands are located where the _Bering Sea meets the Pacific Ocean between the Asian
and the North American continents. Geographically the archipelago is a continuation of the Aleutian
Island chain.


The grouping consists of two large islands, Bering Island and Medny (Copper) Island,
but also of two smaller islets, Toporkov (Puffins) and Ary Kamen (Murre's Stone), and a series of reefs
and outcroppings spreding about thirty miles into the Pacific Ocean and southern Bering Sea.

The highest point of the islands, is Mount Steller on Bering iIsland, reaching 744 m asl.
The sea bottom off the shores of the islands varies from shallow lagoons to deep trenches, with the
maximum depth exceeding 6,500 m below sea level. Warm, deep-water currents wash the coastline
and the oceans remain ice-free almost all year round.




Sealfamily: Bringing up her child...
Photo: ©Gennady Volynets
Courtesy: http://www.travelkamchatka.com



 Courtesy: http://www.kamchatka.org.ru

One of the bays located in the southern part of the Bering Island is called Bobrovaya (Beaver).
Many sea beavers or sea otters lived there. These wonderful animals as well as Steller sea
cow were exterminated there.By the time of V. Bering's expedition there was no other habitats
for Steller sea cow (monatee) except the Commander Islands. The meeting with the man
became fatal for it. By 1768 for 27 years it had been completely exterminated.
We have nothing but the description of that unprotected animal left by the naturalist Steller
and the cape on the Bering Island was named after it.

 Courtesy: http://www.kamchatka.org.ru


Seals on Bering Island
Photo: ©Gennady Volynets
Courtesy: http://www.travelkamchatka.com



Phoca
Photo: ©Gennady Volynets
Courtesy:
http://www.travelkamchatka.com

The Northern Fur Seal
This sea creature was originally named in Greek and Latin for its prized hide and for its beautiful bear-like
qualities. First called sea bears by early Europeans, the Callorhinus, the ursinus, or the Northern fur seal is
a fascinating, highly social and territorial sea mammal. Rookeries, or flocks, of males arrive first in May and
June to establish their territories in common areas such as the Pribilof Islands in the eastern Bering Sea,
and the Commander Islands in the western Bering Sea.

The males are extremely territorial over their harems and will exert themselves in violent and loud battles
echoing personalized calls to claim their property and prove their power. The females arrive at the rookery
site throughout the month of June, giving birth only days after coming in from sea. After their pups are born
mating season begins and the females make frequent trips out to sea to collect food and to gain weight for
their growing pup's main meal, milk.


The seals are dark brown in color with thick gray hairs on the backs of the neck. The female seals have grayish black backs and silver-gray bellies. Pups are black at birth.

-- Did you know? Most females, pups, and young males leave the Bering Sea in late November to migrat
e as far south as southern California and Japan. Pups must learn to swim as soon as possible in order to be
ready for the journey out to sea; it is a mere 125 days after they are born that the young fur seals are
considered weaned, and are expected to fend for themselves as soon as they get the courage.

Mother fur seals leave for eight to 10 days at time soon after the pup is born and hunger often drives the
scared pup into the water. Despite the fledgling fur seals' bravery and quick learning, five to twelve percent
of all pups die during their first month of life. Hookworm causes anemia in the small sea creatures, and they eventually starve.

Above text from "Kamchatka Creatures" by Ciel Yogis


From ©(?) Moscow Times




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Sea otter, Latax lutris - Enhydra lutris
Courtesy: http://www.kamchatkapeninsula.com/


Photo: ©Gennady Volynets
Courtesy: http://www.travelkamchatka.com


Sea otter, Latax lutris - Enhydra lutris

Click here

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Polar fox
Photo: ©Gennady Volynets
Courtesy: http://www.travelkamchatka.com


more to follow
Text and pictures on this page:
 Courtesy: http://www.kamchatka.org.ru 

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Picture from the excellent pages at
http://home.conceptsfa.nl/~pmaas/rea/stellersseacow.htm
More links are found at the bottom of that page.

Steller's Sea Cow, Hydrodamalis gigas

Click here

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 0. Main menu
 1. Preface
 2. Where on Earth is Kamchatka?
 3. Animals - Wildlife
 4. Birds - Birding
 5. Flora - Flowers and Forests
 7. Valley of Geysers
 8. The Volcanoes of Kamchatka
 9. The Forests in Kamchatka
10. The Indigenous People of Kamchatka
11. Vitus Bering, explorer
12. Georg Steller, naturalist

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