Rare beasts and where to find them

Vladislav Teplukhin (@vladrendo) is a renowned photographer that has travelled the most hidden corners of his native Kamchatka and even managed to capture the rarest, the weirdest, and the most unusual animals out there. Some of them we have always considered to be, well, mystical. If you like us have always believed in unicorns, or rather in their actual existence, than read on because this article is definitely for you. Perhaps, some day you’ll be lucky enough to see them with your own eyes!

Kamchatka is such a unique place that attracts countless tourists from all over the world. It is not just a volcano-ridden land close to the Pacific Ocean and full of seething gazers, it is also a sanctuary of the purest, untouched nature, where humans can witness rare animals in the natural habitat. Here we will tell you about the strangest of them all, and what an unforgettable experience it is to face even one of them in real life.

1. Unicorn (!)

Don’t worry - I’m not mad. Here in Kamchatka you can quite literally meet an actual unicorn. Its name is Narwhal and it has been marked as en endangered species in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation. Except it doesn’t look quite like in fairytales. They swim in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean far away from the shore. Surrounded by ice they aren’t afraid of suffocating when the water starts to freeze. Their large tusks helps the narwhal break the thick ice and come up the surface for fresh air. Unfortunately the lives of these precious animals are in danger. They have trouble adapting to the changing climate of the Arctic and the global warming. But these aren’t the only reasons. Their tusks are worth a pretty penny (around a thousand dollars on the black market), as well as their fat, which is considered to be a great delicacy. Both humans and nature are responsible for the fast approaching extinction of these beautiful sea unicorns.

2. The biggest animal in the world

Right here, near the shore of Kamchatka lives the biggest animal on the planet. The blue whale is yet another animal fearing complete extinction. It can reach up to 35 metres in length and weighs around 150 tonnes. They can “spit” an enormous fountain of water which can rise to a height of a small three story house (about nine metres). The massive hunting practices are to blame for its quick disappearance. You can meet these big guys in the waters of the Pacific near the Eastern Kamchatka and the Komandorski islands.

3. Polar bears

A typical example of the fauna of Kamchatka is a brown bear, however its white brother from another mother is actually an endangered species close to extinction. They live near the shore and on Wrangel island. Deer breeders of the Northern Kamchatka call this species irkhuim - a giant polar bear. They are usually spotted on large ice fields next to floating icebergs. Polar bears used to be a favourite prey among the natives. Nowadays, hunting the bears is forbidden by law.

4. Suicidal lemmings

Photo: Denis Budkov (@ratbud)

If you travel down the Paratunka river or decide to conquer Uzon or Kikhpinich volcanoes, you might spot a rare kind of animal - Kamchatka lemming. It is so incredibly tiny that will fit into the palm of your hand. The legend goes that when the lemming population gets too big, the animals gather together and commit an act of mass suicide, like jumping of a cliff. The truth is - it is not true, not even close. The numbers grow thinner because their migration never leads to exploring new terrain.

5. Lesser white-fronted goose

These curious little birds can be seen right in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Avachinsky bay. Its name comes from its high-pitched voice. It is actually more like a squealing noise that actually alarms both hunters and ornithologists to its presence nearby. This species aren’t endangered yet, but its dropping numbers are concerning enough for there to be a treaty between Japan, Korea, China and India that protects them.

Kamchatka is a place worth visiting. Who knows, perhaps one day you come to Khalaktirsky beach, look upon the deep seas and somewhere in the distance you’ll see a glimpse of the blue whale’s tail. Or perhaps, on your quest to conquer yet another volcano you’ll face the tiny Red Book club member - the life-loving lemming. Come and get to know the unique wildlife of the astonishing and infinitely unpredictable Kamchatka.

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