With the long hot summer we have been having, it is hard to imagine the bleak and cold Russian Far East. This however was the subject of a talk given to us on Tuesday 3 July by Mr Roger Townsin. Roger’s trip was an “Expedition Cruise” which began in Japan but which focussed on the Russian island of Sakhalin, the Kamchatka peninsula and the Kuril Islands, which are also governed by Russia. On arrival in Korsakov Sakhalinsk, the travellers were greeted with gifts of salt, bread and vodka – a traditional welcome, apparently! Roger gave us a lot of information — with excellent photos — about the local wildlife, including Steller’s sea eagles and tufted puffins. We learnt also a little about the geology of the Kuril Islands which are part of the well-known ‘Ring of Fire’ around the Pacific, and are volcanic. In Petropavlovsk (Kamchatka) the visitors were again presented with bread and salt. (I am not sure what happened to the vodka!) In the countryside beyond Petropavlovsk, the snow can be five feet thick, although it tends to melt around trees, interestingly. Sperm whales are to be found in the Kamchatka region, attracted by the deep-sea squid. Roger spoke about many other aspects of the region, including some of its history and its indigenous peoples.
Roger gave us a very full and interesting talk and he was thanked by our new Chairman, Michael Webb.