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The Rock-itt : August 2010
Toporkovy Island. By 7am the zodiacs are in the water and cruising amongst Orca's, it's a great way to start the day! They did make it on to Toporkovy which again was a delight for the bird watchers. It was however a difficult place to traverse due to the many trenches that were dug on the island by Japanese forces who occupied the island during the second World War! Later that same afternoon they cruised on to Yankicha Island which is a volcano with a caldera and it's usually possible to motor right into the caldera with the small Zodiacs. Alas the weather was too rough and they couldn't get over the bar at the entrance to enable the Zodiacs to enter the extinct volcanoes caldera. Another joy on these cruises is that youcanbeinthetoothofagalein freezing conditions, and then within 20 minutes be in the cosy bar having a great drink in advance of having a superb dinner amongst like minded folks. To bed reasonably early and the next morning another 6.15 am wake up and an attempt to land on Simunshir Island. Unlike most of the Kuril Islands this one used to be inhabited so there is the detritus of a bygone age to explore. It's another extinct volcano and this time the entrance to the caldera is big enough to take the Zodiacs inside, so landing is achieved. This was the most Southern island they achieved and later that morning they started North and cruised by the island of Ketoy which is a very active volcano and they had great views of the steamy plume on this normally very misty island. I can tell you they had Lasagne for lunch and the over imbibers will have snoozed themselves through a couple of lectures before getting an early dinner prior to a spectacular evening cruising past the island of Raykoke where thousands of Northern Fulmars breed. The birds targeted the ship in the hope that its propellers would churn up the water and provide food. Raykoke is one of their main breeding spots and they would have had many chicks waiting their dinner on the island at that time. They also had a pod of Dall's Porpoise playing in the bow wave of the ship and a colony of Stellar's Sea Lions was spotted very near on the island. Next day a lie in until 7.30am then a morning landing on Onekotan Island which delighted the visitors with it's many wildflowers. The afternoon took them to Paramushir Island and more sea otters. The following day was a landing at Bukhta Russkaya and there were Russian border guards, tour leader Rodney Russ took a Zodiac to the shore to talk to the guards and an hour later the cruisers were still waiting to see if they could land.........More next month. These trips are expensive but you are going places that very few people have seen. $6500 US will get you on this one. Check out Heritage Expeditions web site www.heritage-expeditions.com/ and check out Dr. Mel's Black Robin blog on www.blackrobin.org.nz Extra thanks to Melanie Massaro for all the great photographs. Up close and personal with a Killer Whale off Toporkovy Island Yankicha Island with a fly past of Crested and Whiskered Auklets Dr Mel on Simunshir Island, giant Murdoch and army building with the Zodiacs in Caldera behind Dall's Porpoise in the bow wave of the boat A Zodiac landing, great exploring boats, they get you right into the action