Wow, what a day we had as we revisited the Aleutian Islands – this time in Russia! The Commander Islands (“Komandorskiye Ostrova” in Russian) are a small archipelago in the western most section of the Aleutian chain, arcing 1,200 miles (1,800 kilometers) from the mainland of Alaska toward the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. Comprised of two large islands, Bering Island and Medny Island as well as several smaller island and islets, the vast majority of this space has been set aside as the Komandorskie Nature Preserve and is federally protected.
Our morning just off Severo-Zapadny Cape on the northwestern corner of Bering Island was teeming with wildlife, including curious northern fur seals as well as tufted puffins and murres dedicatedly taking small fish like juvenile cod and capelin to their chicks nearby. During lunch, National Geographic Orion repositioned to nearby Nikolskoye Village, approximately 22 miles from Server-Zapandy Cape where we were welcomed ashore by local youngsters and who were excited to escort us into town. In the village, we visited several locations, such as the visitor center and a local art museum as well as monuments of Danish explorer Vitus Bering and Soviet Russia leader Vladimir Lenin. The time ashore was highlighted with a song and dance performance at the local cultural center. Guests and staff alike were overjoyed with our warm welcome and visit to Nikolskyoye Village on Bering Island.