Images (c) N. Russ
Phenomenal wildlife and spectacular scenery are hallmarks of our 'Russia's Ring of Fire' voyage and today was as good as it gets in the Russian Far East. We spent the morning exploring the flooded caldera at the northern end of Simushir Island and the eerie calm of a once top secret, now abandoned and vegetation entangled Soviet submarine base.
Back on board Spirit of Enderby, our birders were delighted by a pre-lunch encounter with two rare and globally vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross tipping their wings to our ship, and a visit from a Black-footed Albatross.
The lifting fog revealed what would be a memorable afternoon for all as we were surrounded by a pod of up to 30 Killer Whales which joined us on our voyage for the following 45-minutes as we sailed between volcanoes, before heading off on a journey of their own.
Dropping anchor off Yankicha Island, we waited for the tide to come in before boarding our Zodiacs to cruise and explore a nearby geothermal area and the epic vistas afforded from above on the caldera rim. It was then time to experience one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth as thousands upon thousands of Crested and Whiskered Auklets returned to the island for the night. Blackening the sky and covering the water, floating among the roar of beating wings and cries as the birds re-established pecking orders proved an emotionally powerful two hours. When we could pull ourselves away from the heaving flocks, we watched with interest as opportunistic Arctic Fox took in the spectacle from the shoreline.