Expedition Diaries 2016

June 26. Day 20

June 26. Day 20

Early in the morning there was a white whale spotted near “Molchanov”, and at 6 am my phone started ringing, I even got the Internet connection, though in 10 minutes it all disappeared. We have reached Bolshoy Solovetskiy Island and cast anchor pretty far from the coast.

To get to Solovki.

As we were told in the evening, it turned out to be quite chilly there, though the winds are generally very strong here. Instagram worked only on the stern, the sun was also very bright and warm there.

It took the motorboats long to go to the shore and get back, the monastery disappeared from time to time as “Molchanov” was rotating slightly, though it was hard to notice its movements.

I looked at the waves, and put on the jacket and water-proof trousers, and put the bag with the camera into a backpack. I just didn’t put on heavy rubber-boots. While we were going by boat, I looked with envy at Nadezhda Vorobieva who has put plastic bags on her boots and I tried to hide my legs in leather boots under the seat in order to keep them dry. It really helped, also the jacket and trousers helped a lot. Nikita Yuriev seems to like walking barefoot in the water. Probably, he got this habit at Vaygach after he had spent 10 days with the local residents.

While we were going to the coast, I tried to recollect some memories from Solovki. I was here 16, 15 and 10 years ago, always in June. We were shown how seaweed was cut in such weather as we have today, but I was much more poorly equipped then. But it was hard to remember details. Our journey took us 40 minutes, so I had enough time to recall and to observe.

On the coast I took off the jacket and the trousers and we went to the monastery. There were three souvenir shops and a grocery store which had been here for 15 years. There were cows walking by. I also took some pictures of the monastery, and though the views are more impressive in the evening when the sun sets, I still believe that Katya and Dmitriy do not regret coming with me.

We all walked separately. The geologists took bicycles and went to the Botanical garden, two more groups came there. The foreign participants and Marina Titova went on the excursion around the monastery. Marina checked the information about the icon workshop where Alexander Borisov had studied. The guide promised her to find some information about the workshop of that period and, if possible, about its outstanding student.

Those who had come earlier were able to attend the church service and the procession of the Cross, those who came later could only hear the bells ringing.

I should say that there is scaffolding everywhere! I wonder will we ever see the Solovetskiy monastery without scaffolding? It is presented this way even on calendars and other souvenirs.

Someone met a colleague who they rarely see in Moscow, someone bought a new dress. The shop in the Kremlin was overcrowded, so I decided to buy a souvenir plate for my Mom and local marmalade somewhere else.

The final report session.

Each module today presented the results of their work during the expedition.

Last time the Cultural landscapes module was reporting about the Southern part of our route, today they were talking about the North. In Russkaya Gavan’ almost all buildings had been cleared from snow, so it was possible to examine them. Some, for example the bath, are in a pretty good condition. They had to create the method of cultural landscapes evaluation in the Arctic and Subarctic themselves. Of course, there are some general principles, but the methods applicable for taiga are not suitable for the Arctic. Final results will be formulated after the expedition.

The shipbuilding module continued to measure the noise and vibration levels in different parts of the vessel and compared the results with the results of the AFU-2013. Both the noise and vibration levels have lowered. To tell the truth, you almost don’t hear the engine noise at “Molchanov”, the sea is usually much noisier.

The climate change module is the most numerous in the expedition (if we don’t take ornithologists into account, but the major part of the ornithology module also work in other modules and just assist in counting birds). The presentation of the climate change module had the same logic as the one during the first report session: Andre was talking about tundra, Julia – about natural influence, Maria – about anthropogenic influence. The presentation included some drawings as “the landscapes have huge impact on geography, as this science is based on visual impressions”, said V.P. Semionov Tyan-Shanskiy. The drawings were made in pencil and were very laconic.

The climate is actually changing – it was also proved by the hydrometeorological module.

Of course, these are only the data acquired during this expedition. Average June data (temperature, pressure and humidity) at the certain stations were used for the analysis. It turned out to be warmer and drier than on the average.

The geologists have to spend two months to prepare the collected samples for the analysis and work with them for another several months. Their aim is to create the palaeomagnetic base to reconstruct the tectonic history of the Arctic continental periphery in the late Precambrian age and the early Mesozoic age.

The Novaya Zemlya and the Ural mountains were completely formed about 200 bln years ago, when Europe and Asia were united.

As for the insects, the data concerning development biotopes of the two-winged were acquired for the first time, as well as concerning the community composition of invertebrates in fresh-water and semiaquatic biotopes in the north of the Novaya Zemlya and Vaygach Island, insect sampling with the use of several methods was held. Extirpation of adult two-winged from larvae is also held for the first time, more than 100 insects has already extirpated.

Andrey Przhiboro even demonstrated the insects: they were crawling and attempted to escape as the lid was open. They live in closed plates in the fridge, but rumour has it that Andrey has created some giant creatures on board.

As for the ornithologists, they talked more about the sea birds, especially because their population is growing as we go to the north because the amount of food at sea is increasing. The counting of sea birds, and sea mammals if any, was held while the expedition was going along the Novaya Zemlya.

6 483 guillemots were spotted. Birds are counted at 10 minute intervals. The maximum amount of guillemots spotted within 10 minutes was 202. 34 kittiwakes, 13 skuas and 740 little auks were spotted within 10 minutes (it means almost 1.5 little auks per second!).

- How did you manage to count them?

- They fly in flocks, so the amount counted is probably lower than it actually is.

There are 58 rookeries of thick-billed guillemots on the Western coast of the Novaya Zemlya. The large amounts of birds were spotted not far from the largest rookeries.

As for little auks, there are 4 known rookeries. It seems that during the expedition the ornithologists managed to find another one in Mac Bay. This rookery hasn’t been mentioned in the books before.

39 walruses were spotted along the way from the south to the north of the Novaya Zemlya.

The international cooperation in the Arctic module presented their theoretical ideas. They spoke about the contemporary situation and about the strategies implied by the Arctic states in the Arctic region. It turns out that every state is trying to get advantage of the situation though they all say that they are interested in international cooperation.

Greetings from the Zhelaniya Cape.

Igor Kotrekov, our guard, greets everyone on behalf of the group at the Zhelaniya Cape. 5 employees of the “Russian Arctic” National Park have been brought to the park base by the AFU-2016 expedition. Igor writes that they have settled well. One group met a polar bear at Mavrikiy Cape, though it turned out that there were three polar bears!

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