Brief Trip Report - Sea of Okhotsk

To: "'Birding Aus'" <>
Subject: Brief Trip Report - Sea of Okhotsk
From: "Gil Langfield" <>
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2014 17:37:40 +1000
In mid-June I was a passenger on the 12-day Heritage Expeditions cruise to
the Sea of Okhotsk.  The cruise covered that part of the Sea bounded by
Sakhalin Island to the south, the Russian Far East on the west and north and
the Kamchatka Peninsula on the east.  The cruise started from Korsakov, the
port of Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, visited various bird and mammal breeding islands
in the Sea, spent a half-day in the town of Okhotsk and ended at Magadan, on
the northern shore of the Sea.  


I had been on two other Heritage cruises in the Russian Far East and this
trip interested me because I was promised views of the Ribbon Seal, in my
opinion the most beautiful seal in the world.  In the event, we saw about
350 of these mammals, lounging on sea ice floes in the south-west corner of
the Sea.  We also saw Larga, Harbour, Ringed and Bearded Seals, Steller's
Sea Lions, Minke, Fin and Grey Whales, Harbour Porpoises and lots of Dall's
Porpoises.  There were also five mother Brown Bears with two cubs each.


We saw 12 species of Alcid, all of which I had seen on previous voyages.
Those particularly common in this Sea were Spectacled Guillemot and Least
Auklet.  Northern Fulmars seemed to be mostly dark phase in the south and
light phase in the north and were ever-present.  Steller's Sea Eagles were
observed on every shore landing.  There were good numbers of Aleutian Terns
near the town of Okhotsk.  The surprise sighting was that of an immature
Short-tailed Albatross near the northern coast of the Sea (first sighted at
58 47.327 N, 151 49.136 E), a bird which followed the ship on and off while
it steamed east at about 12 knots  from 1835 to 2150 on 19 June.  These
birds are usually seen east rather than west of the Kamchatka Peninsula.  In
all, I saw 63 species, new for me being the aforesaid albatross, Dusky
Warbler, Dusky Thrush and Red-throated Pipit.  The excellent bird guide on
the ship was Chris Collins.


The weather was predictably foggy and a little windy at the start of the
cruise but we ended with some fine and calm weather.  It was not as cold as
I expected.  For Tony Abbot's benefit, the sea ice and Ribbon Seals were
much further south than usual, indicating that global warming is affecting
this area as well. 


Please contact me directly for more information and/or a list of bird
species seen by me.




Gil Langfield

Melbourne, Australia


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