Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Little Diomede Island : remote and hostile

Remote but definitely not a paradise: located in the Bering Strait, between Alaska and Siberia, Little Diomede Island is an ice-covered flat-topped rock with steep cliffed coast and only one small permanently inhabitated settlement: Diomede (Inalik) , population ~160 hab.

At approximately 65.75° N, -168.95° W , Little Diomede is very isolated, by rough seas and by the persistent fog that shrouds the island during the warmer months. No regular flights link to the mainland Alaska: just the weekly helicopter mail delivery and a summer small charter from Nome. Ski planes do occasionally land on an ice runway during the winter months, and whenever the sea calms down passengers from ships can go to land in small boats.

Thousands of sea birds, seals, whales, walrus and two (!) arctic foxes frequent the coast and the surrounding water and sea ice; now and then, through frozen sea, a polar bear is an welcome visit.
The location of the village is a small area, the only which does not have near-vertical cliffs to the water. Behind, rocky slopes rise at about 40° up to the flattened top.

Little Diomede Inuit natives live a subsistence lifestyle, harvesting fish and crab, hunting beluga whales, walrus, seals and any polar bears coming from Alaska in winter, when Bering sea is frozen.

Facilities are spartan: an heliport for weekly mail delivery, a breakwater and small boat harbour, a school, one ice cream machine, a clinic and washeteria, and a small shop where inuit handicraft is sold. No bank, no gym, no hotel, no café or restaurant, no shopping, no cars, no streets - only rows of wooden stairways granting access to the cabins where locals live.

The Diomede people are excellent ivory carvers, their art being recognized by art dealers and collectionners.
The two close Diomede Islands (Big and Little) are separated by the International Date Line which is approximately 1 km from each island.
They are sometimes called Tomorrow Island (Big Diomede) and Yesterday Isle (Little Diomede) because the big island is 21 hours ahead of the small one. From the smaller island you can look into "tomorrow", in Russia’s Big Diomede - presently uninhabitated.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Another North - Arctic Russia

Wonderful video showing northern regions of Russia like Hibines, Shorya mountain, Taimyr, Kolyma, Ural, White Sea, Ladoga, Kuznetsk Alatau, Enisey river. I must quest those Thules from the East...


Georgy Sviridov- "Our North "
State Capella of Saint-Petersburg, Vladislav Tchernushenko conducts.