Photo of a week

Diving with sea lions. Russian Bay. June'15

The number of viewing: 132989



Avacha Bay & Starichkov Isl.

Avacha Bay is situated on the Pacific coast of the peninsula. It cuts into the land for 20 km and is considered to be one of the most beautiful and efficient sea harbors in the world.  Avacha Bay is vast, well protected from dangerous seas and weather, but also convenient for travel to and from the open seas of the North Pacific. At the end of the 18th century the famous Russian explorer Sarychev wrote: “There is no need to praise its position. It is widely known that it is considered the best in the world as created by nature.” This same opinion was held and expressed by the participants of the famous Russian round-the-world expeditions of 19th century. In the middle of the 19th century, the governor-general of Eastern Siberia wrote,”I have seen a lot of ports in Russia and Europe, but I have never seen anything of the kind of Avacha Bay”.

 Avacha Bay has a basically round shape and presents a vast and deep closed gulf connected to the Pacific by a narrow strait. Its area is 215 sq.km. The bay coast is winding, cut with numerous inlets of which the most convenient and famous are Tarya, Tikhaya, Rakovaya, Babya, Petropavlovskaya, Seroglazka and Mokhovaya. They are separated from the bay with long sand spits. The shores of Avacha bay are of volcanic origin and have mountainous character.

 In the west, two very picturesque rivers discharge into the bay: Avacha and Paratunka. The bay influences the climate of the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, making it warmer than more inland areas in the south.  Its coastal waters are warmer than the air all the year round with the exception of July, August and September.

 In July of 1997, an extraordinary event happened here. Avacha Bay is a place that is usually used by transiting salmon species on the way to spawning in the rivers. This particular year, however, humpback salmon chose Avacha bay itself for spawning. The spit in the city center was crowded with people taking advantage of the cornucopia of salmon…some even fished with just their hands, as the fish were so numerous.

 The flora and fauna outside the urban areas along the Bay show great variety. On the slopes of hills, in the dells and on mountain rims there are birch trees, elfin cedar and alder growing as well as ash trees and different grasses. As for large marine mammals, one can see large numbers of Largha seals and sea lions. There are many ducks and geese, seagulls and other bird species.

Starichkov Island is a nature reserve of a regional value based in 1981. The area of the island makes 93 acres. It is surrounded by 3-mile security sea zone beginning from water border during the maximal low tide.

 The nature reserve “Starichkov Island” is located in 30 km from the city Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Avacha Gulf of the Pacific Ocean, 12 km from the south of the entrance to the  Avacha Bay. The north-western part of the island is elevated for 147 meters above sea level. The coast is abrupt and steep.

 The island is mainly inhabited by two species of birds nesting in holes all over the surface: tufted puffin (32 thousand heads) and common ancient murrelet (13 thousand heads). Nowadays, it is the largest known place of nesting for these species in the coastal waters of Kamchatka. The so-called bird’s rockeries – the mixed colonies of guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes and cormorants are located on the coastal rocks. The Pacific seagulls are nesting at the top of the island in thickets of grasses. The pair of Steller’s sea-eagles (rare birds included in the Red Book of Russia) annually nest on the Guard Cliff.


 There are rookeries of largha seal and island harbor seal on the coastal reeves around the island. Killer whales and Dall’s porpoises are rather usual in adjoining boarder waters.

 Several years ago Starichkov Island and adjoining to it waters of the Avacha Gulf became the field for studying the conditions of coastal ecosystems carried out by researches of Kamchatka Branch of Pacific Institute of Geography. Taking into account the nearness of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and beauty of the coast of Starichkov Island, its coastal waters are constantly visited by tourists and armature scuba divers during the summer period.