Tyuleniy Island

On Location: Tyuleniy Island, Sakhalin, Russia

Zegrahm Contributor|August 19, 2010|Blog Post

Wow! What a day! A fantastic fiery sunrise kicked off a day which involved us going ashore on tiny Tyuleniy in the Sea of Okhotsk. Approaching from the south, the island became noticeable first because it was literally carpeted wall-to-wall with mammals and birds, second because of the incredible sound, and third because of the smell of all of those creatures. We pushed our way ashore through ranks of Northern Fur Seals and spent over three hours with our senses on overload. In every direction there was action: the sky was full of whirring murres, the waters surrounding the island were heaving with swimming fur seals while here and there gangs, even mobs, of Steller's sea lions were lunging back and forth in dense masses. On shore we were treated to the endless antics of the young fur seals as they played with anything that came near—even when this involved the young murre chicks trying to make their way to sea. Roaring, bellowing, barking seals almost completely drowned out the cries of the kittiwakes. The shrill piping calls of young murres were only audible because there were so many of them.

This was in wonderful contrast to some of the islands we have visited further north where there has been little sign of successful breeding. It was a little gory on the beach, because many young murres had clearly been killed by fur seals—we found many of their carcasses. Thankfully though there were many alive at sea and we were able to watch the young murres bobbing out on the water being attended by their fathers. The day left us with myriad memories of the struggle for life being played out by hundreds of thousands of individuals of several species on this remote and rarely visited island. It ranks in my book as the most impressive wildlife site I have visited in the world for sheer density of wildlife and the sense of being completely surrounded by it.

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