'In Search of Seals' Program
If you come to the White Sea in May, you'll watch the sweeping northern spring in full action, when the sea is getting rid of ice cover, and the shore begins to turn green with summer colours.
The White Sea is rich in marine life. It's a home for various marine mammals: white whales (belugas), gray seals, harp seals, ringed seals, bearded seals. Walruses and baleen whales may come occasionally.
Young seal pups are born in early March. By the middle of May, having grown up a bit and molted, young and adult seals can be seen lying on floating ice and on the shore. With a motorboat we have a chance to get quite close to them (10-5 m. distance) to see their life with our own eyes.
Every day the group sets off for a marine excursion by speedboats. We'll observe the animals from the boat and take pictures of them. The program schedule supposes landing on the islands for walks, fishing and lunch. Dry suit snorkeling is also possible upon request.
'In Search of Seals' Program includes the following excursions:
- Visit to our reindeer farm (accompanied by an attendant). Some information about reindeer domestication and our experience in reindeer herding. You can interact with these cute animals - feed them with tasty and healthy treats, pat their rough fur, and take pictures of them.
- Excursion to Kastyan Island and some other islands in the vicinity of "The Srctic Circle" Dive Centre and lodge.
- Excursion to Panfilova Varakka hill, where pegmatites, quartz and mica used to be quarried. The mining ended a long time ago and the quarry became a picturesque man-made canyon. Viewing the canyon and superb views from the hilltop.
- Excursion to the White Sea Biology Station of the Moscow State University. Our guides will tell you about the history of the Biostation and show you its premises and neighborhood.
- Excursion to the Village of Chyornaya Rechka - a village, located at the mouth of a picturesque forest stream Chernaya Rechka (meaning ‘black river’), that has existed for more than 500 years. Nowadays it is isolated from the surrounding world, no road leads to it, and no car is to be found there. You will discover life without TV or white goods, just as it was centuries ago.
Provisional program schedule by day:
Day 1 – Transfer from the railway station or the airport to "The Arctic Circle" Dive Centre and Lodge (Nilmoguba village, Karelia, Russia). Check in the hotel at the dive centre. Briefing, welcome meals and getting acquainted. Sightseeing walk around the Dive Centre and the Lodge premises and some rest. The first marine excursion to Kastyan Island in search of seals (after the lunch or with a picnic and campfire instead of it). Return to "The Arctic Circle" Lodge at dinner-time, Russian bath in the evening.
Day 2 – Start of the day program after breakfast, around 10 am. Our boats go out to sea to search for sealeries and places crowded by marine mammals. Landing on the island of Berezovy or Kokoicha. Walking, gathering of mussels at low tide, lunch by campfire. Continuation of the program. If the weather is good enough, we may have a chance to a remote Kuzokotsky cape and Kem-Luda in search of seals. During walks on the islands you can enjoy the panoramas of the White Sea. Return to "The Arctic Circle" Lodge at dinner-time, Russian bath in the evening.
Day 3 – After breakfast: excursion to the White Sea Biology Station of the Moscow State University, which is a scientific and educational unit of the MSU, where the research of the White Sea is conducted all the year round, and student training practices take place. Observation of the Velikaya Salma Strait, a walk around the Biostation and the Botanical Garden. In case of good weather - a walk to the hilltop and an excursion to Lake Verkhnee. Lunch at the latitude of the geographical Arctic Circle - on the island of Epanchinikha. Everybody can step over the Arctic Circle and return back. Return to "The Arctic Circle" Lodge at dinner-time, Russian bath in the evening.
Day 4 – After breakfast: visit to our reindeer farm (accompanied by an attendant). After lunch: a walk to Panfilova Varakka Canyon. After the excursion, you can wander along the seashore and admire the sunsets. A picnic in a warm heated pavilion may be organized in the evening instead of traditional dinner.
Day 5 – A day trip to Kastyan Island with lunch. Walking, fishing, a chance to go mussel-gathering. Picnic with fish soup ("ukha") or kebabs ("shashlyk") on a campfire. Return to "The Arctic Circle" Lodge at dinner-time, Russian bath in the evening.
Day 6 – After breakfast we go by boats to the mouth of the Chernaya Rechka (Black River) in search of seals. With packed lunch. After lunch, an excursion around the village that has existed for more than 500 years. In old times there was a winter road to Murman, a fishing artel, a brick factory, and a church in the village. Nowadays it is isolated from the surrounding world, no road leads to it, and no car is to be found there. You can only walk to the village, or reach it by boat in summer and by snowmobile in winter. A few years ago, with the help of local residents, the church was rebuilt. Return to the Lodge at dinner-time. Farewell dinner and Russian bath in the evening. Packing up and departure from "The Arctic Circle" Lodge late in the evening. Transfer to the railway station or to the airport
The program schedule may be changed according to the weather and other conditions
The cost of participation in the program for the coming season is given in the Educational Programs price list