Shantar Islands, Russia Cruise Port

Located off of the Sea of Okhotsk's western shore is a group of fifteen islands, comprising the cruise port of Shantar Islands, Russia. Although all of the islands are currently uninhabited, they were once used by the indigenous Nivkh or Gilyak people as fishing grounds; commercial fishermen still use them as a base. Russian explorer Ivan Moskvitin spotted the islands in 1640, and visited by other Russian surveyors between 1711 and 1725. With illegal trapping and logging part of the islands' past, the ecosystem is in peril. To that end, the Shantar Islands National Park was created in 2013 to protect area wildlife. While the waters around the islands are typically frozen eight months of each year, there is diverse marine life; animals such as bearded seals, sea otters, minke whales, and endangered bowhead whales are often spotted here. Here are some favorite experiences when cruising to Shantar Islands, Russia:
 
  • The Shantar Islands National Park covers land and sea; while the park is still being developed, there are plenty of commercial tours to get you to points of interest. Among those are salmon spawning areas and large bird colonies, along with the plethora of marine life that swim in surrounding waters. If it's plants you're looking for, you'll find plenty of trees but no endemic plant species.
     
  • Geology buffs might want to explore Feklistova Island, which is known for minerals such as blacksand platinum. It is part of what's called the Kondyor-Feklistov metallogenic belt. The island is covered with a taiga forest (also called a boreal forest or snow forest) where you may spot a bear or two.
     
  • If fishing is what you crave, the islands are an excellent place to catch all different species. Some of what you can expect to see include lenok, white-spotted char, and salmon. The crabs also like to wander here, and whales tend to come into the bay – a perfect backdrop to angling for the smaller stuff.
     
  • While this isn't the most mountainous group of islands, there are still cliffs for hiking. See if you can spot the whales as you gaze out to see.

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