7 treasures of the Shantar Islands. What amazing things are hidden by the mysterious archipelago
The Shantar Islands are an archipelago in the most secluded corner of the Russian Far East. It is located in the western part of the Sea of Okhotsk, right next to two bays Tugursky, Akademiya and Udskaya Bay. Despite their relative proximity to the mainland, the islands are hidden from casual sight like a legendary treasure island. Although why “how”?
Firstly, while traveling through the archipelago, you do not let go of the feeling that here it is the very “piece of land surrounded on all sides by water” that you dreamed of reading by Stevenson. Secondly, there are indeed amazing treasures on Shantars, although they can only be carried away in human memory and in a camera. But these treasures will stay with you for life.
Treasures are the islands themselves
Shantars are easy to find not only on the map of Russia, but also on the globe. This is a rather noticeable archipelago with a total area of more than 2,500 thousand square kilometers. It has 23 large, medium and small islands and countless very tiny areas and sea rock-kekurs, which I do not even have names. But each of them is interesting in its own way: inhabitants, history, structure, beauty or even danger.
There is a very small island there the Deomid Stones, named after a Christian martyr. It is located in the Northeast Strait between the Big and Small Shantar. It is difficult to imagine a more lifeless island at high tide it is almost completely hidden under stormy waves. But all sailors who have ever been here know these Stones. Strong tidal currents are so powerful that they can pull a sailboat onto these stone teeth, and then nothing and no one will save either the ship or the crew. This island is advised to bypass all sailing directions.
Well, it is worth paying attention to the largest islands: Bolshoy Shantar (1790 sq. km), Feklistov (393 sq. km), Small Shantar (112 sq. km). And Belichyim (70 sq. Km.). Particularly interesting is Bolshoi Shantar, there are many traces of human presence from an abandoned lighthouse to a whale factory of the late 19th century.
You can visit this unique place in just a few days or even in one day! experience the effects of all four seasons.
At the end of July, icebergs can be observed in this part of the Sea of Okhotsk, despite the possible heat. It would seem that just the head was on the verge of a sunstroke, but then the wind blew, overtook the clouds, and a bright sunny day immediately plunged into autumn misty gray.
At night, frost can hit the islands and freeze puddles with thin ice. And in the morning it will snow. Which will soon melt under the hot, almost Crimean sun. And so it can be repeated over and over again.
Let the “southern” heat not deceive with the desire to rush into the tenderly alluring sea. Even in the warmest months, the water does not warm up above +11 degrees. It just does not have time, because this part of the Sea of Okhotsk is cleared of ice for only a couple of months.
Ebb and flow
The tides in these places are some of the most powerful in the world. Oscillations reach 8 meters, and rivers sometimes begin to flow backwards: the pressure of the sea is so unstoppable.
The first explorer of these places, the legendary academician Middendorf, wrote: at the western of the two Dugand capes, to our great amazement, for the first time they experienced the force of sea currents. In vain I thought at first to overcome them with strong twelve oars: in spite of our friendly wide sweeps, the sea current uncontrollably, with the fury of a mountain stream tore us off the coast, so that we, surrounded by ice blocks and the fog accompanying them, considered ourselves happy when we could again stand on anchor in view of the coast, and for the night to take refuge in the Swan Bay.
This concerns the strength of the currents. And here is what the scientist wrote about the level of tides: “The captain told us, and another confirmed his words that he killed a whale with a harpoon at a depth of 6 fathoms (11 meters Ed.), And a few hours later he collected shells from sand uncovered by water!
There are many animals on the islands. But above all, Shantara is a paradise for bears. They live on all large and medium-sized islands, and in the summer they swim even to tiny plots of land, if there is something to profit from there.
Even the academician Middendorf wrote half in jest: “Without bears, without trampled paths by them, it was hardly possible for a man to get through the thickets of the wooded Okhotsk region. And that is why they are the conductors of culture there, paving the way for man However, he annoys man no less strongly.
The brown bear on Shantars resembles in appearance and behavior of two brethren at once a Kamchatka bear and a grizzly bear.
The archipelago is also a kind of rest house for migratory birds. About a million of them, migrating from Southeast Asia and India to the north and back, stop here to reinforce their forces. There are tens of thousands of swans alone during seasonal flights.
The emblem of Shantar is the Pacific eagle. The population of this rarest bird is the largest on the Okhotsk coast.
Two species of cetaceans reign in the Shantar Sea: mustachioed and toothed whales. The first species includes humpback, gray, southern, bowhead whales and fin whales. The second group includes killer whales and beluga whales.
The most interesting and rare representative of the baleen whales of the Shantar Sea is the bowhead, or polar whale. It reaches over twenty meters in length and weighs over a hundred tons. It is capable of descending to a depth of 200 m. Scientists believe that individual individuals can live up to 200 years, which makes this species a contender for the title of the longest-living mammal.
The total number of bowhead whales in these areas now does not exceed 400 individuals.
For comparison: in 1855, off the island of Feklistov, an American whaling squadron killed 50 copies a day! It is estimated that over 18,000 bowhead whales alone were killed during commercial fishing before the turn of the 20th century. The Japanese whale and sperm whale, whose populations are now negligible, were also being exterminated by predators.
In 1849, the first year of whale fever, 154 foreign whaling vessels were fishing on Shantars. In a short summer alone, the Americans mined here more than two hundred thousand barrels of whale oil and more than a thousand tons of mustache. The US Senate summed it up: “All American trade does not bring what these industrial ships can mine.” Now the majestic animals are taken under protection.
As for the representatives of toothed cetaceans, the killer whale dominates here. Amazing animals have a rigid system of hierarchy and specialization, not only within the family, but also by entire clans. Male killer whales reach a length of 10 m and weigh up to 8 tons. They can be distinguished by their straight and very high dorsal fin. Killer whales are often called killer whales and are feared. At one time, the American thriller Death Among Icebergs made a great contribution to this. But the legends about their bloodthirstiness are greatly exaggerated. And there were no cases of attacks on people in the wild.
The largest and most interesting island of the archipelago Bolshoy Shantar is known for the wealth of jasper and marbles. The brightest and richest presence of semi-precious stones is observed on the Raduzhny and Topaznoye capes in the south-west of the territory. There are pieces of jasper from a few grams to many tons. Moreover, there are whole rocks, consisting of jasper of various colors and shades.
The largest accumulation of multi-colored marbles can be observed in Pankov Bay in the northeast of the island. There are whole mountains there, completely consisting of this valuable rock. So Big Shantar can truly be called an island of treasures.