Landing and wildlife viewing in Russia
Aurora Expeditions believes that travel to remote destinations can create lifelong ambassadors for environmental protection. Sensitivity to environmental considerations is a core part of our culture and our staff has a unique ability to share their love and respect of nature with our passengers. We take every opportunity to explain the fragile ecosystems we encounter.
All expeditioners will be briefed on appropriate environmental codes of conduct and the reasons for such guidelines at a compulsory briefing on board before the first outing. You will learn how to enhance your visit to the Russian Coast without being intrusive. These skills can be taken back home and planted in your own backyards.
Here are a few guidelines that you will be asked to follow on all our Russian expeditions.
Listen to staff instructions.
Keep track of time.
Return to the landing site prior to the appointed time of departure.
Wait for a staff briefing at the landing site before exploring.
Never wander off alone or out of sight of the staff positioned ashore.
If you hear the ship’s horn or a staff member asks, you must return to the landing site immediately.
No smoking on shore.
No Littering, souvenir collecting, or urinating ashore.
Do not pull up bones or artefacts that are buried in the turf.
Anything you take to a landing should be returned to the ship.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Behaviour near wildlife
Do not touch the wildlife.
Keep a minimum distance of 5 metres from all animals – especially nesting birds.
If an animal’s behaviour changes – you are too close.
If a bird leaves its nest, the eggs or chicks may die.
Always give wildlife the right of way.
Avoid coming between an animal and the shore.
Be aware of your surroundings
Move slowly and always check behind you before backing up.
Birds flying or calling overhead normally signifies you are too close to a nest. Carefully retrace your steps the way you came.
Do not make any sudden movements.
Keep quiet – do not make loud or sudden noises.
Keep low if possible – you will appear less threatening to animals and it will also create better photographs for you.
Do not try to make an animal react for a photograph.
Patience is the best reward.
Protecting fragile vegetation
In the Russian Far East, there is vegetation everywhere, but avoid walking on delicate moss beds and tundra flowers.
Always wash your boots on the ship before and after each landing.
SAFETY IN BEAR COUNTRY
Travelling through out the Russian Far East, it is likely that we will encounter Russian brown bears. Our staff will always access the safety of a landing site, so please ensure you listen to their briefings and safety advice. Our passenger's safety is our number one priority. With permission from the Alaska Audubon Society and Derek Stonorov, the following bear safety guidelines are taken from the book, 'Living In Harmony with Bears' by Derek Stonorov.
BE PREPARED. Plan how you are going to react when you meet an inquisitive, intelligent, and potentially dangerous animal in the backcountry or in your neighbourhood.
BE PREDICTABLE. Many bears in Alaska have had interactions with people. As our population increases this number will grow. What a bear learns in one encounter influences what it does in the next. Try to make every encounter positive—for you and the bear. If we want bears to be non-threatening and predictable, it is important that we reciprocate.
BE CAREFUL. Bears don’t like to be surprised. If you are hiking in a place where you can’t see, make your presence known by talking or clapping your hands. Move slowly and be especially alert.
TRAVEL WITH A GROUP. While this isn’t always practical, the larger the group the smaller the risk of attack. Groups of people seem to intimidate bears. Bears are more likely to approach one or two people than larger groups. Keep close together. Being strung out along a trail creates many groups of one.
DON’T APPROACH BEARS. Moving towards a bear is aggressive behaviour— it forces the bear to react. If you inadvertently approach a bear and feel the bear is not aware of your presence, take advantage of the situation and slowly move away. Carefully watch to make sure the bear is not following.
A BEAR MAY APPROACH YOU FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. It might be habituated or used to people and simply walking by at a distance it is comfortable with. The bear may be curious. You may be on its trail. You may be in the bear’s personal space, and it feels threatened. It may want your food. A female bear may perceive you as a threat to her cubs. A bear may want to dominate you and, in extremely rare circumstances, investigate you as potential prey.
MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH A BEAR IS UNLIKELY TO INFLUENCE THE BEAR OR TO AFFECT THE OUTCOME OF AN ENCOUNTER. It is important to keep the bear in sight so that you give yourself the opportunity to detect important visual clues to the bear’s behaviour.
KEEP CALM. If a bear approaches, keep calm. It is assessing the situation as it moves towards you. It’s picking up clues as fast as you are giving them. If you get excited, the bear could too. It may change from being curious to being frightened. A mother with cubs may change from defensively keeping you away, to becoming highly stressed and going on the offensive—attacking in a punishing display.
IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS HUMAN AND DON’T RUN. If a bear becomes increasingly stressed and aggressive, talk to it in a low voice.
DON’T RUN. Bears can go about 35 mph—even the fat ones!
INCREASE YOUR DISTANCE. Bears avoid antagonistic encounters by moving away from one another. If the bear is not moving towards you, very cautiously try to move away. If your movement causes the bear to move towards you, stop and hold your ground. When you do this you are using body language to say, “don’t mess with me.”
BEARS MAY COME QUITE CLOSE. Bears may come close as they threaten and decide what to do. If we behave correctly, identifying ourselves, standing our ground, or giving the bear room, the bear will make the right decision— sometimes not as quickly as we would like—and move off.
IF A BEAR PERSISTS...and continues towards you—hold your ground. The bear is interested in you or something you have, and may cause you bodily harm. Yell and wave your arms or anything handy. You are trying to tell the bear you are not intimidated. Groups of people should stand shoulder to shoulder to project a larger presence.
MOST CHARGES STOP SHORT OF CONTACT IF YOU REACT APPROPRIATELY. A head down, open-mouthed, running charge is a bear’s trump card. It is a defensive reaction to a perceived threat. The bear is telling you that it is highly stressed and you are in the wrong place. Charges happen so quickly there isn’t much time for reaction. A charge almost always ends short of contact.
IF A BEAR ATTACKS...If, and only if, a bear makes physical contact, fall to the ground on your stomach and protect your face and neck. If the bear rolls you over, try to get back into this position. The bear is almost certainly making a defensive attack and will stop when it feels it has eliminated any threat. When the bear stops, keep as still and quiet as possible. Stay that way until you believe the bear has left the area. Movement and sound can initiate new attacks. If the attack persists and the bear continues to bite long after you assume a defensive posture, it is likely making a predatory attack. Fight back vigorously.