Jul 05, 2019 - National Geographic Orion
This morning National Geographic Orion entered Glubokaya Bay in the dead of fog with zero visibility. Our dedicated bridge crew sent out a Zodiac to do some soundings so that we could weave our way into the fjord and by 8:30 a.m. we made our way to the beach and had an incredible morning. Exploring the ghost town of an old village site we were quickly reminded we were in the domain of the Kamchatka brown bear (Ursus arctos beringianus). Bear trails every which where we could not help but wonder how people used to live among such a high concentration of the species.
The long-abandoned community was established during the starvation period of the Great Famine in Central Russia from 1932 to 1934. The government moved people from Central Russia at that time to create jobs and provide food for other parts of Russia. Salted herring was king here along the Kamchatka Coast. By the amount of home sites, electricity poles and other remains it was obvious that this was once home to a healthy population, up until the mid-60s when the herring population crashed. As we walked the bear trails, we observed that almost all formerly active electricity poles showed clawing, leaving behind the bear’s pheromones to announce who’s who in the valley.
Wildflowers everywhere, we reveled in both familiar and new species, and as the fog lifted we ventured to higher ground where we could look down on the old village site and the amazing peaks of the Pylginsky Range surrounding. As the sun burned through the fog, the birds began to stir and the bears began to wander. Entering the zone of the dwarf pine (Pinus pumila), we could really appreciate the taiga – “land of little sticks” – here in the boreal zone of Eurasia. Well adapted to the severe northern climate the dwarf pine can live up to 250+ years. Both the medium walkers and birders had a good look at bears and after we left the landing bears were seen on the beach, hill and further down the fjord as we left the area for points north. What a blessing to have places in the world where wilderness rules and wild things roam!
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