Expedition Diaries 2017

July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…

July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…

It’s my Birthday, that’s why there is no diary for today. Let’s have fun! ust joking.

Landing on Solovki Islands

Promoting patriotism and the formation of the spiritual image of the Arctic - that was the purpose of the visit of Solovetsky archipelago by our expedition formulated by its leader Konstantin Zaykov. Now it has become the traditional final point of all the expeditions of Arctic Floating University.

The cheerful voice of our leader woke all of us at 7.15 in the morning, notifying the arrival at the final archipelago of our journey and that landing will start soon.

Ingo Weiss, however, sought not to the historical objects, but to Beluga whales, which is understandable. It is also one of the Solovetsky attractions. Unfortunately, the belugas didn’t show to us, and Ingo didn’t reach them on boat too.

Beluga (white whale) is a mammal of the suborder of toothed whales of the narwhal family. The skin color of Beluga is monophonic, in contrast to the speckled narwhals, and they do not immediately turn white. The color changes with age: newborns — dark blue then becoming gray and bluish-gray; individuals older than 3-5 years is pure white. The largest males can reach 6 meters in length and up to 2 tons of weight, females are smaller. The head of the belugas is usually small with a big forehead, without beak. The vertebrae in the neck are not fused together, therefore the whale, unlike most whales, is able to turn its head. Nansen called white gull “the Ghost of the Arctic”, but it is not too similar to ghosts, but beluga, when it is sliding in the water, looks like a real ghost, especially if it keeps silence. Though belugas are very talkative creatures.

Telephone communications and Internet connection appeared, now I feel like being unaccustomed to them. The first SMS for 3 weeks was the most enjoyable one: "Salary accrual"; birthday congratulations were also nice, but they began to come later. In my personal e-mail this morning there were 342 letters, I’m afraid to look into corporate account. I think I’ll postpone it till Monday... No, probably it won’t work... Until Saturday.

I was in a commercial boat for those who want to land in the equipped pier – it cost 50 rubles from person. Landing back in the boat does not cost money. It was possible to go to the landing directly in slippers, that was a pleasure. Slippers didn't get wet, but I had to dry in the strong wind my left leg. During our boat journey, we were constantly passing some ships and once I failed to dodge from the waves.

The NArFU group with Elena Gusakova, Anna Trofimova and Nikita Sobolev immediately went to collect samples for contamination: Lena and Anya – soil samples, and Nikita with an eclectic look wearing down jacket and brodny (high rubber boots), went for the algae. Then he, together with the collected algae, listened about the history of Solovki from Evgeny Yermolov.

Special thanks to Zhenya for the interesting story. It's amazing how it all began here in the year 14…, awfully long time ago. Zhenya is telling as though he had seen all the events with his own eyes. Igor Matskevich and I then tried to find traces of the cannonballs of the British squadron on the monastery walls, from which the monastery was successfully firing back, even with guns from Ivan the Terrible times.

There is a very interesting work schedule of some institutions on Solovki Islands. It’s clear, when the souvenir shops start to work at 12.00, but lunchtime at Sberbank (only there you can get cash) is from 12.30 to 14? It's probably a Siesta. And post office on Solovki is closed on Thursdays at all.

This time I went to the Museum of political repressions, which is now situated behind the walls of the Kremlin, it is a pity that I didn’t get into the Marine Museum.

I, as usual, decided to walk up to the observation deck on the Lake Svyatoe (Holy Lake), where I always take a photo. This year the sign "no Swimming" appeared on the deck; Igor Matskevich spotted a perch in the water, and I for the first time in many years, managed to take a picture in which all the domes of the Solovetsky monastery are not being reconstructed. In the past year when the people saw my picture of them uploaded on the Instagram, I was asked: is it now actually like this? Looks like I frustrated a few planned trips there in the summer of 2016.

On the way to the observation deck we saw some bright yellow bird that was clearly not a tomtit. Mindful of the black-browed albatrosses, we rushed for it, you never know, maybe it's a giant Colombian Hummingbird, who decided to change the habitat. Irina Pokrovskaya said it was a Finch. So, it was not surprising actually, because there were a lot of them, and they filled the entire Solovetsky settlement.

While our small group reached the ground, the wind had dropped, the san came out of the clouds, halibut pies were eaten very quickly. Andrey Todorov with Jesus passed us on bicycles, accompanied by Ksenia Vezhlivtseva without one. Jesus alerted us that they were going to Cuba, and they rushed ahead. Me, too, was thinking about the bike, wanted to drive to the Botanical garden, but being on the shore I abandoned this idea, looking at puddles and slush priming. But then the road was a bit levelled, but moving on it has not become easier, just it was not clear where it was better to step and where not.

Since last year new kinds of souvenirs appeared on Solovki, so I (though I had promised myself not to waste money on such stuff) bought a couple of shirts – one for a nephew, a couple of gifts, too, for her and a magnet with a mosquito for myself. Finally, someone had an idea to capture one of the implicit Solovki brands to souvenirs (I mean mosquitoes). I'm not going to remember those terrible things for which people used the local insects in the time of concentration camps, only the story from my own experience. Solovki stinging critters can be compared with polar bears on persistence. 15 years ago, we were here on a business trip from the TV with the operator in the mosquito time – at the end of June. Despite the heat, we were dressed up and smeared with anti-mosquito cream, because we were afraid - the mosquito clouds sometimes covered the whole monastery, and made scary background noise (I didn’t even hear operator’s curses in their address). Once we were coming back to the hotel in the evening – I had no stuff with me, and the operator was with his equipment, so I ran forward in one moment. I turned and saw a small mosquito cloud over the head of Igor. It was about 30-40 cm above his hat, and one of the villains periodically was flying down below out of this cloud, apparently to test whether there were more repellent on the hat. I reported it to Igor, to which he chuckled: Think you don’t have the same above you? I've been watching for a long time!

Everyone came on time to the pier, but Konstantin Zaikov worried and said that after the landing we needed to recount the heads. We were passed by a very loud Solovki cat, of the same grey color striped fur as my Jad, cursing everything but hopefully not us. Probably just the whole life. It is typical for Solovki inhabitants.

Today I was given an owl, a cat, a bear, a book about extreme ecosystems, and Jesus wove what he called, рaracord-bracelet. Such things, such baubles, popular, as he said, in Sweden. First, he chose pink-orange cord, but it was too thick, so I have the grey bracelet. Jesus was very pleased that the bracelet once fitted my size. Also fits my favorite ring.

Konstantin Zaikov after the completion of the landing was really counting us, so we can be sure that on the Solovki no one is left.

Eric Hösli’s impressions

The day before I was talking to Eric about the preliminary results and his impressions of the expedition.

He says it is obvious that the expedition has opened the Arctic and Russia for its foreign participants.

— This image changed a lot, they learned a lot, they have been working in completely different conditions than they had used to. Of course, I hope they have something new now to begin, that is not the end of the expedition, but the beginning of the process, when people will be interested in the subject of the Arctic. And they were not working alone, but with the help of fellow Russian colleagues, it was an interesting experience how to work together. Everything turned out amazingly well, relations are now really good. This is also a very important point: three weeks together when no one knows each other – it is not so easy. I see only positive results from this side. I asked them – should it be repeated? And the answer was that it is necessary. Here I have no doubt in the very positive reactions of all foreign participants, here I can speak on behalf of all without exception.

I think there have been many wonderful moments for our ornithologist, when he saw the Albatross, which is usually met only in the southern part of the Earth, and it seems that this is the first Albatross ever that was seen in the North. They were so excited – this second, when they looked at the Albatross, will last a lifetime for him and his colleagues! The same thing when pictures of nature, moments when we are there all in silence went between the glaciers. The moment of the meeting with the polar explorers at Tikhaya Bay, when two of our female students stayed there to talk to them in the polar station. This conversation, this moment was just unique to them.

I see that all this made a very big impression. There were a lot of such little but significant moments. We are now collecting them. I suggested, everyone would choose four of the strongest impressions. They eventually could disappear. And we will gather 100 of the most vivid impressions from the trip.

For me personally it is a different experience – I have already been to these places. Historical places – for me, there is an echo, I can imagine those people who had been there, for me, it is a very powerful emotion, it's not some nameless place. I knew who had done it, who had worked there, who had freezing there.  

And again, a polar bear who runs in, comes on walruses before our eyes 0 it is, of course, terrific, though I had seen polar bears. Simple and complete silence, the sea is like a mirror, glaciers all around, and you don't want to talk. This is the full beauty of nature. It is also very strong emotion!


July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…
July 2. Day twentieth, last but one…

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Updated 12.07.2017