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Diving with sea lions. Russian Bay. June'15

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General information

Location

 The Kamchatka peninsula lies nine time zones east of Moscow, jutting out into the northern Pacific. It has been considered so remote that it became known as Siberia’s Siberia. Connected to Asia by only a narrow bar of land covered with permafrost and swamps, it is almost impossible most of the year to reach Kamchatka by crossing that land bridge. Instead, access to Kamchatka is usually by air or ships crossing from the Asian mainland. It is easier to think of Kamchatka as an island, stretching from north to south for more than a thousand kilometers. The total land mass amounts to 472,000 square kilometers, equal to the territory of several European countries.

 Climate

 The climate of the peninsula is influenced by a lot of factors such as intensive cyclone activity, the vicinity of Arctic, the surrounding seas, the mountainous relief of the area and the monsoon winds. The changeability of weather and high humidity is characteristic features of the climate of Kamchatka. In coastal areas, the climate is maritime: winters are long and relatively warm with heavy snowfalls and fog, whereas summers are often rainy. The climate in the northern and central parts, practically in the valley of the Kamchatka River, is continental with hot summers and severe winters. The warmest months are July and August with an average temperature between 15-17 degrees. The highest temperature ever (35 degrees) was registered in the area of Dolinovka (Milkovsky District). A considerable part of the territory lies in the permafrost zone.

Relief and Landscape

 Kamchatka is a typical mountainous country with mountain ranges occupying more than two-thirds of the total territory. The main ridges - the Sredinny Ridge and Eastern Ridge - stretch parallel along the peninsula. The lowlands are mainly in the north and west of the peninsula, and there are picturesque valleys along the rivers.

 Kamchatka is a zone of intensive volcanic activity with about 150 volcanoes, 28 of which are active. The Klyuchevskaya Sopka, the highest volcano in Asia (4,750 m), with its perfectly symmetrical slopes, is a magnificent sight. It is comparatively young - about 5,000 years old - and has been known to erupt some seven hundred times. Some volcanoes that have been considered extinct for centuries sometimes wake up and come to life. Scientists say that the force of a volcanic explosion can equal the annual amount of power produced by a big power station. The ejection of stones or volcanic “bombs” of different shapes, molten lava, gas and ash is often accompanied by earthquakes of different force.

 The three volcanoes - the Avachinsky, Koryaksky and Kozelsky - are located within sight of the city of Petropavlovsk and are fondly called home volcanoes. Numerous tourists climb the Avacha throughout the year. Its summit commands a picturesque view of a typical Kamchatka landscape with snowy peaks of mountains glittering in the sun’s rays and blue of the boundless ocean. The latest eruption of Avacha occurred in 1991 when the residents of Petropavlovsk could watch puffs of gas, steam clouds and red-hot steams flowing down the slopes.

Rivers and Lakes

 Kamchatka abounds with rivers and lakes. The rivers are of great potential hydroelectric value. The water in many of them is transparent and pure and for that reason good for the spawning of salmon - the most valuable species of fish here.

 The longest and deepest river is the Kamchatka (more than 700 km long). It is a vital waterway navigable for small ships and barges practically all along its length. Other big and navigable rivers are the Bystraya, the Penzhina, the Apuka, the Bolshaya and the Tigil.

 The largest of the numerous lakes in Kamchatka are Kronotskoye and Kurilskoe; of which the latter, for instance, is in some places as deep as 316 meters. Lake Kurilskoe, located between mountains, is the best salmon spawning-ground of Kamchatka and a magnificent sight, too. It is not by chance that this place was chosen for the laboratory of the Kamchatka Department of the Pacific Research Institute of Fishing and Oceanography.

  Flora

 Kamchatka is one of the rare places of the world where the original vegetation and plant life is still in place and able to be seen and experienced by visitors. Whereas other countries of the world have replanted or destroyed the original landscape, Kamchatka has cherished its wild and beautiful topography. The original giant grasses, for example, cover large areas of Kamchatka in July and August, sometimes reaching more than three feet in height. There is an abundance of wild berries and wildflowers....enough to amaze visitors from all over the world.

Fauna

 The animal world of Kamchatka is diverse with numerous species: brown bear, fox, polar fox, hare, sable, mink, lynx, snow-ram, otter, muskrat and others. Among the sea mammals, we distinguish whales, seals, fur seals, sea otters. Just to name a few.

 Quite diverse is the number of birds on the peninsula. Some of them - partridges, capercailies, swans, pigeons, crows and magpies - stay on the peninsula throughout the year, while others - geese and ducks, for instance, - come to this remote place every spring for nesting. On the coastal cliffs and rocky islands, there are sea gulls, cormorants, puffins and others.

 More than thirty species of fish can be found in Kamchatka rivers, lakes and seas, surrounding the peninsula. Among them are salmon, herring, navaga, flounder, halibut, cod, sea perch, crucian and others.

 It is of special interest that some species of wild animals and birds, widely spread in similar natural zones on the mainland, are not found at all in Kamchatka. To this group belong, for instance, snakes and frogs. We have neither starlings, storks, herons nor swallows. This can be partially explained by the isolation of the peninsula and by rigorous climate with its long snowy winters.

 It was only a few years ago that sparrows appeared in Kamchatka and though small and seemingly weak, they settled here.




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