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Far East Russia Orca Project expedition 2000
In 1999 Alexander Burdin and Haruko Sato for
the first time boarded a boat in Avachinsky Gulf, determined to obtain photographs of Kamchatka killer
whales. That was a preliminary work and much was done for the
first time: the procedure of searching of groups, approaching
to animals on the boat and taking photographs. In this first preliminary year
of the project, despite only three working departures, about 50
black-and-white and colour films, as well as videos, were made. These materials became the basis for our
photoidentification list. We knew that we had a reliable place to encounter orcas.
We selected a land base on Starichkov Island 5 miles south from the gates of Avacha Bay and in 3 miles east of Sarannaya Bay. The island represents a large rock 800m in diameter and 150m height. The entire island from the beach to the top is occupied by birds - mostly gulls, cormorants and puffins. In August it is possible to meet nestlings of these species of birds from the water boundary up to the uppermost point of the island.
The second field season in summer 2000 attracted more participants and collected much more material.
Three study methods were pursued: photo-identification,
bioacoustics and land-based observations. Our team is divided into two
main parts: boat crew and land-observers. Land-observers are based
on the cape from which they can see most of the surface around
the island. The aim of the observers is to find orca groups, direct
the boat to them, track all group movements and note the type of
The boat crew includes a photographer, acoustic and the driver, with note-takers. The photographer takes photos of the
orcas that we meet to make individual identification, the acoustic
records the sounds. Thus we have tried
to achieve a maximum overall performance with small on that time