18 Jul 2019

Adventures on Yttygran Island

Yttygran Island Whale Bones Kapitan Khlebnikov

There's been much hopeful chatter about finding Brown Bears, particularly after this morning's bear presentation by Elena. For today's excursion, we landed at Yttygran Island, part of Beringia National Park, to visit a 14th Century Bowhead Whale ceremonial site commonly known as 'Whalebone Alley' (Kitovaya alleya). As we approached the beach, a row of vertically fixed jawbones dramatically appeared through the fog. In 1976, Russian ethnographers noted how the peculiar arrangement of Bowhead skulls and vertebrae resembled a traditional whaling boat and crew.

The long walkers headed up the mountain with a couple guides, while the medium and short walkers opted for birdwatching, or a botanical walk. Two local rangers were present for an interpretive overview of the site. The Ground Squirrels seemed particularly active and curious here; we saw cresting Humpback and Gray Whales in the distance and large flocks of King Eiders. The higher we climbed, the more expansive and impressive the views until we were well above the fog with the most incredible bird's eye vista of mountains, islands and sea before us. Our fellow travellers below were dwarfed below and only the top portion of Kapitan Khlebinkov was visible above the fog. Once we reached the summit, the wind picked up and another 180-degrees of rolling, yellow-green tundra and sea views greeted us. We scanned the tundra below for wildlife before finding a spot to lay down in the sun.


Yttygran Island Hike and Kapitan Khlebnikov

Images (c) A.Tockston

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