Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We Didn’t Start the Fire!

Today three of us—Victoria, Kate, and Graeme—went out 5 km offshore on
the cutter Kozhov with some Russian and American scientists to collect
water samples. We helped Ted, a post-doc who works with Marianne at
Wellesley, filter samples of Epischura from Baikal at a depth of 150
meters. We got back just in time to go back out on the same boat with
the rest of the class.
Captain Sergei dropped us off a couple kilometers past Chernaia Pad',
but the bottom of the ramp down from the boat landed in the water, so
our translators, Sergei and Ruslan, got roped into carrying most of
the class across the water. Not sure if this was in their job
description. We literally worked them until the bled!
An environmentalist, our botanist companions from yesterday, and a
member of the local Rotary Club led us into a burned valley, where we
learned about forest succession following fire damage. It takes over
400 years for a forest to completely recover from a fire, and the
complex ecosystem surrounding Baikal is especially vulnerable. Fires
in Siberian forests, which are almost always started by people, are
becoming increasingly more prevalent.
Our 5km walk back to Bolshie Koti was along the Great Baikal Trail,
and Volodya, the environmentalist (accompanied by an absurdly
energetic 6 month old puppy), taught us about the considerations that
go into constructing the 2000 planned kilometers of trail around
Baikal. For instance, bridges are built out of larch trees, which
yield particularly hardy wood. Trails shouldn't be built too close to
the generally sharp cliffs that border Baikal, or else they'll crumble
into the lake; neither should their inclines be too steep. An
interesting sidenote: park rangers aren't allowed to use the phrase
"do not" in their signs.
We're about to play (and slaughter) the NSF researchers at charades.
No need to wish us luck!
Diana and Victoria


  1. Happy Birthday Kate!!We will drink a Starbucks in your honor! We love you and hope you have a wonderful day!
    Mom, Dad, Joseph, Alice, Tootsie, & Rex

  2. I did not know about the "do not" rule around Baikal. All of these adventures sound so interesting. Enjoy the area and your studies.