Boomerang, the Sakhalin Island outdoor club and WSC partner that’s constantly striving for novel experiences for kids, struck gold this summer with a trip to the Shantar Islands National Park. The 1.2 million acre park was established in early 2014 after years of work by another close partner Khabarovsk Wildlife Foundation. The park sits off mainland Russian Far East just to the northwest of Sakhalin, and its rich chum and pink salmon runs form the center of a thriving ecosystem that hosts everything from grey whales to brown bears to Blakiston’s fish owls.
A Boomerang flotilla of two inflatable catamarans with 20 students, scientists, and volunteers traveled to the Shantars as part of a 24-day trip that combined science, education, and adventure.
While the group saw beluga whales, orcas, seals, bears, and marine birds in their native habitat, leaders talked to students and members of the public about destructive practices of capturing orcas and beluga whales for aquariums and marine wildlife parks. The group also took genetic samples from plants and animals that will be analyzed this winter.
“The Shantars are the dream destination of any serious explorer,” said Valentina Mezentzeva, chairwoman of Boomerang.
WSC helped Boomerang grow its programs and expand it salmon curriculum, under the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative. Now, WSC and Boomerang are looking to replicate the group’s outdoor education model across the Russian Far East.