In 1998, the Marine Sanctuary will be twenty. Over this period, the animal
and plant kingdom of its islands and water area has been studied sufficiently
So, what other finds can researchers expect in the near future in addition to animal and plant species novel to science or the Sanctuary itself?
1. Let us recall the history of formation of islands in Peter the Great Bay. During the period of maximal glaciation, they were joined with the continent and had a common flora and fauna. After climate warming, part of the land was flooded by ocean waters to leave on the surface in the form of islands only ridge peaks of various size and hence with different ecological conditions. Consequently, the evolution of terrestrial animals and plants took place in each island in its own unique form. It may apparently be expected that today the terrestrial population on each island would be genetically unique to represent an invaluable and still unexplored genetic data pool.
2. From the ecologist’s viewpoint, the following ecosystems may be distinguished on the islands: cliffs, sandy beaches, taiga, subtropical forests, steppes, bogs and streams, and on Bolshoi Pelis Island and Stenin Island there are even fresh-water miniature lakes. Ecosystem models are plotted to describe ecosystems, elucidate the flows of matter and energy therein, and also to understand and predict global ecological processes. The islands of Russia’s only Marine Sanctuary, and those of Laso Preserve, are indeed mesoecosystems free of man-made impact and promising for ecological simulation.
3. To monitor the Sanctuary population, there is need to continue to take stock of insular fauna, continue to map the communities and habitats of animals and plants in coastal waters of the islands and mainland, to distinguish control sites for continuous tracking, and to create a data base for the Sanctuary population.
4. In the Sanctuary, there would be need to promote comprehensive studies involving ecologists, biologists, paleontologists, archeologists, geologists, hydrochemists and toxicologists. Such studies were launched in 1996 in connection with the need to prepare public expert examination of possible cross-border pollution of the Sanctuary water area and other areas of Peter the Great Bay.
5. At present, with support of Russia’s Federal Target Integration Program, the Sanctuary is organizing a field school called “Sanctuary Islands of Primorye”. The school is designed to revive the field practice of biology students in the Sanctuary, acquaint students with the animals and plants of Peter the Great Bay and with their protection methods in the Sanctuary, to teach students research organization methods in extra protected sea reservoirs and territories, and hydrobiological methods for surveying water bodies and simulating ecosystems.
The educational potentials of such a school are boundless. It may be used for conducting studies and research on marine and fresh-water hydrobiology, ichthyology, zoology, chorology, algology, genetics, morphology and zoology of terrestrial vertebrates, botany, limnology, ecology and many other branches of biology.
The combined efforts of Marine Sanctuary researchers and those of research institutes of Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, higher educational establishments and students would allow to activate monitoring, population stock-taking and biological mapping in the Far East National Marine Sanctuary. Evidently, the implementation of this project would benefit not only the Sanctuary itself, but university and college instructors, researchers of the Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, and university and college undergraduates as well.
To improve island protection and exploration, the Sanctuary has developed a Program for construction of island winter cordons. In 1996, the Sanctuary Development Fund, assisted by 000 Gamma Limited built the first island winter cordon on Bolshoi Pelis Island. The next construction project would involve a similar cordon on Furugelm Island and a summer research base in one of the Sanctuary sites.
A. TIURIN, Cand. Sci (Biology).