Photographer: Диана Серебренникова, Полина Виардо, Вячеслав Заметня
Text: Диана Серебренникова
In June 2014 specialists that study killer whales went on an expedition to one of the Kuril Islands – Paramushir island – to study the coastal waters and to find out what type of killer whales inhabits these unexplored areas.
For about a month, our expeditionary team lived in a small house on the shore of Sea of Okhotsk, in the Shelikhov bay, together with the specialists of Far East project for killer whale studies (Far East Russian Orca Project, FEROP). When the sea was calm, biologists and natural scientists put their boats to sea in search for killer whales, and on other days they walked deep inland.
The explorers have seen quite a lot: bird colonies, bay seals, wild bears, black fins of killer whales, fountain-like exhales of cachalots and even a “tiny” hump-backed whale. But most importantly, the scientists have discovered families of killer whales that were not spotted in other parts of the Russian Far East. The information that was gathered during the expedition will permit to determine habitats of killer whales and other cetaceans.
The story goes that the Ainu – the indigenous inhabitants of Kuril Islands – never hunted killer whales, because they considered them sea gods. However, these idyllic relationships became history.
Journalist Diana Serebrennikova had a chance to join scientists in observing these sagacious mammals, which are now having difficult times, in their natural habitat.