At 55º N, the far-east russian village of Nikolskoye is a long way south from the Arctic Circle; nevertheless, its condition of isolation in a tundra-covered treeless cold island lost in the Bering Sea makes it a possible radical Ultima Thule for some adventurous sailor bound to the distant East.
Nikolskoye (Russian: Нико́льское) is a rural locality located on Bering Island, one of the Commander Islands chain, in the Kamchatka District of far east Russia. The Commander Islands belong to the Aleutian chain.
Bering Island, some 90 kilometers long and 24 kilometers wide, is the largest of the Commander Islands and is located to the east of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Bering Sea. They form the Aleutskiy Region since 1888.
The sub-arctic treeless Bering Island is rather desolate, covered by grassy steppe, and its coast alternates between cliffs - wuth waterfalls here and there - and sandy beaches - most are rookeries for penguins and sea mammals.
Steller's arch - one the best known geological features.
Freshwater currents like this one are rich in pink salmon.
Nikolskoye, at the mouth of Gavanskaya river, is the only remaining inhabited locality in the island, apart some huts for temporary use in natural life observation and study.
The current economy is based primarily on fishing, especially the harvest of salmon caviar, birds and eggs, berries, mushroom gathering, and government services and subsidies. Other basic goods arrive by ship.
Almost the entire island is a nature preserve. There is virtually no harvest of marine mammals due to strict protection.
Population : ~800
Coordinates : 55°12′ N, 165° 59′ E
Nikolskoye (or Nikol´skoye) was founded in 1826 by Aleut settlers who were brought there by Russian fur traders.
The administrative center of the islands has preserved traditional Russian style; some houses of the XIX century remain in reasonable state.
The inhabitantis of Nikolskoye often wait anxiously for the next ship, hoping for a cargo of fruit and vegetables, flour, salt and sugar...
Usually the local shop, after a recent shipload of food, is quickly emptied because people take full cardboxes of all they can manage to buy. One day full, a month empty, that's the local shops' rythm.
Nikolskoye has one kindergarten, a school, a district hospital, a cultural centre and a museum. There are weekly flights from and to Petropavlovsk (Kamchatka).
Russia recently went on an improvement spree here, painting and fixing up some old buildings, building a new church for the village and creating a lookout honouring Vitus Bering, who wrecked in the island's shore commanding his ship 'St. Peter'.
The church officially opened in October and took about two years to build.
The Bering Memorial
The Commander Islands received their name after Danish explorer Commander Vitus Bering, who died there in 1741 after his ship wrecked on Bering Island, at the time uninhabited, on his return voyage from Alaska.
Vitus Bering, the true 'Viking of the Pacific'.
The Aleutian natives
The Aleutsk Regional Study Museum
The house was built in the last century by an American company, for the former fisheries' management in Commander Islands.
The Aleut Museum was created in the mid-1960s. Initially the exhibition was devoted the two expeditions of the Danish explorer Vitus Bering, and Aleut traditional culture.
It has broadened since then to materials on geological past of the island and the ancient colonization of Beringia, the History of the settlement of the islands since the time of the Russian-American campaign, and the "American period" when the last Aleuts arrived.
Maybe the most praised item is a skeleton of the extinct Steller’s sea cow, who was hunted to extinction 27 years after its discovery by Georg Steller in 1741. It was a herbivorous marine mammal exclusive to the Bering Sea area around the Russian Commander Islands.
Nina Kiyaykina, a Russian aleut-born from Bering Island, directed the Museum from 1992 to 1998. She is also a skilled basket-weaver and teacher of aleut traditions.
Sergey Pasenyuk, a local adventurer and artist.
There is also an eccentric resident artist who has a gallery overlooking the bay. A hunter, ethnographer, naturalist, artist, writer and, on top of all that, a yachtsman, Sergey Pasenyuk has crossed the Pacific Ocean single-handedly on several occasions.
Sergei Pasenyuk built an oceanfront small house, painted the walls, hung in nautical charts and his amazing drawings.
He likes to philosophize with visitors over a beer or a vodka, to paint landscapes in summer, and in winter he listens to the rustle of the waves.
Inside his wooden barn house, he displays a variety of objects, either local or from his sailing travels, as well as his own drawings.
Some flora and fauna of Bering Island
Danish navigator Vitus Bering sailed northward through 'Bering' strait in 1728 and determined that Asia and North America were two separate continents.