IFAW Photo-Identification Team Arrives in Piltun, Russia

Post by Grisha Tsidulko, IFAW, Russia Office

The second part of the Piltun team arrived at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk three days ago. From there, they will continue their trip north to join their friends and colleagues at Piltun. Upon arrival the full team will be able to conduct both lighthouse and boat surveys. The shore team consists of IFAW observers and the boat team is a part of the long-term Russia-US Western gray whale photo identification project. This has been going on since 1995, and has been supported by IFAW since 2000 when the Fund has started its campaign to protect WGW.

Four members of the team met in Yzhno on June 23, planning to get on the train the same day afternoon and reach the lighthouse on the June 24. The unpredictable Sakhalin weather changed their plans. Due to a storm and heavy rainfalls, the train was canceled as the railroad was washed off in several places along the route. All the transportation to the north of the island was stopped. The team members learned that the trains should remain on hold for the next 24-48 hours. Facing these difficulties the team investigated if it could get to the lighthouse by road, but it turned out that the motorway was damaged even more serious, and it is more reasonable to wait for the train than travel 700 km along a road potentially blocked at several locations by land slides and flood. 

Fortunately by the late afternoon of the 24th the railroad was repaired enough to allow one train to pass through to Nogliky. Instead of the regular 8 carriages, the train pulled 18 to accommodate all the passengers got stuck in Yzhno due to the weather.

Finally, the team arrived to Nogliky today and, after purchasing additional supplies, continued further north for Piltun. The team reached the lighthouse at 18:00 and was greeted by their friends who had worried that the storm caused difficulties for those on route.

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