Bering Sea expedition, 2015

Dear All,

I am trying to help organize a wildlife-viewing expedition to St. Paul and St. Matthew Islands in the Bering Sea next June. St. Paul has the world’s largest fur seal rookeries, very tame blue-phase Arctic foxes, and a beautiful endemic shrew, plus huge and uncommonly diverse seabird colonies and the last authentic Aleut villages. Uninhabited St. Matthew also has blue foxes, plus a walrus rookery, an endemic vole, and McKay’s bunting, one of the world’s most beautiful and difficult-to-see birds.

St. Paul is regularly visited by birders, but St. Matthew is virtually inaccessible. The tour can be run as either an 8-10-day boat trip from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians, or a 3-day trip from St. Paul. I think the first option is better since airfares to St. Paul are brutal, while Dutch Harbor is cheaper to get to (by air or by Alaskan Ferry System with a possible stopover on Kodiak). Also, there is a possibility of seeing all kinds of interesting seabirds and mammals during the crossing, even a small chance of spotting a Steineger’s beaked whale, a North Pacific right whale, or a ribbon seal.

The cost of the boat trip is yet to be determined, but looks like it would be somewhere in 5-7k$ range.

I don’t expect anyone to sign up right away, but please let me know if you’d be interested in participating if the trip does happen.

Vladimir Dinets

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10 Comments on “Bering Sea expedition, 2015”

  1. Morten Jorgensen Says:

    Hi Vladimir.

    Please keep me informed about this, it sounds like just my thing! I would be very keen to participate, at this stage not sure however whether I have the time free. Many thanks, Morten

  2. Francine Says:

    Hi Vladimir, sounds like a very original and tempting trip! I would be interested to participate! Many thanks for the initiative, Francine

  3. John Fox Says:

    There is a 13 day cruise going from Seward to Nome 8/1-8/13/2015 that might be an option. They stop at St Mathews and St Paul Islands (and lots of other places).

    I did about the same cruise in 2007 and there were a couple tour groups aboard, a trip leader and 4-6 participants.

    If a birder is considering it, I got 15 Alcids, a clean sweep I believe. Anyone with a pulse would be impressed with St. Paul.

    • vdinets Says:

      Are they the ones that spent a week off Chukotka this summer and weren’t allowed to land? Anyway, It’s nice, but way more expensive (or at least appears to be – we haven’t calculated the exact costs yet).

      • John Fox Says:

        It seems several cruise ships “failed to coordinate with local authorities” last summer. I’m sure you understand that better than anyone.

        We went into Provideniya, where a gaggle of officials came out for a four hour lunch with the captain. But a Bearded Seal showed up right next to the boat and checked us out. A visit to “whalebone alley” was interesting but it was in a cold, spitting rain and the captain bailed on the Walrus haul out place, which was too bad.

        Yeah, those luxury ships are way more expensive than I need or want, but there are few options.

      • vdinets Says:

        Unfortunately, Russian dictatorship is becoming ever more paranoid and aggressive, so visiting the country can be expected to get even more problematic. I would recommend not planning any travel that includes Russia for the next summer.

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