Lopatka Peninsula is the southernmost point of Kamchatka. It is 25 km long and between 2 and 7 km wide. The peninsula is largely wetlands and has numerous tundra-lakes.
The nature of this southernmost part of Kamchatka is generally sub-Arctic, but milder.
Vegetation here is poor. There are no forests; large areas are covered by dwarf alder and mountain pine. Bright fields brown algae bloom in shallow waters off the coast, providing suitable habitat for the sea otter. Several thousand of the animals live here. Heavy storms, especially in winter, force them to the coast where they gather in colonies on small islands and rocky bays.
Another excellent example of sub-Arctic ecosystem influence in the southernmost part of Kamchatka is the composition of nesting birds, including sub-Arctic species like long-tailed duck, rocksandpiper, dunlin, red-throated pipit, and Lapland longspur.
A population of an endemic species of rock sandpiper is situated on Lopatka Peninsula and Shumshu Island, numbering only several hundreds of pairs. The Southern Kamchatka rock sandpiper is listed in the Red Data Book of Russia.
Lopatka Bay plays a special role during bird migrations. In autumn, the abundance and intensity of birds is the highest in the Far East when, during peak migration periods, 9,000–11,000 birds fly through the bay. The most abundant species are small sparrows, especially oriental greenfinch, reed bunting, Middendorff’s grasshopper-warbler, and Siberian rubythroat. Birds of prey also migrate through here in large numbers. The abundance of migrating birds is explained by the fact that this is where birds traveling southward from both sides of Kamchatka merge at its tip.
The waters around Lopatka Peninsula, mainly First Kuril Strait, are wintering areas for large numbers of auks, Anseri formes, and gulls. Gulls, tufted puffins, cormorants, and other birds are found in great abundance everywhere on the coast. Willow ptarmigan, black-billed capercaillie, and some species of ducks and geese also find protection in the reserve.
Lopatka Peninsua is known for its high numbers of foxes. Brown bears, stoats, wolverines, hares, and other wildlife are also common. Along the coast, fur seal, ringed seal, and Steller sea lion are found.
The first Russians to visit Lopatka Bay were Kazaks, headed by D. Antsiferov and I. Kozyrevsky (1711). Efforts to save the unique fauna of this area were begun as early as the 19th century. In 1892, the Kamchatka government declared seasonal protection of sea otters on Lopatka Peninsula. In 1927,by the decree of the RSFSR People Commissary the “Bobrovye lezhbishcha Lopatki” (Lopatka Sea Otter Rookery) Refuge” was established.
Lopatka has very inclement weather. Located at about the same latitude as Saratov, Voronezh, Kiev, Brussels, and London, the area has the second highest number of bad weather days in the world after Cape Horn in Chile. The average daily temperature on Lopatka even during the warmest time of the year never rises above 10oC, where weather forecasters consider summer to be the time when the average daily temperature exceeds 10oC. This is because the narrow cape, only a few kilometers wide, divides the Pacific Ocean and Okhotsk Sea, and therefore air masses are constantly embattled overhead.
Despite this, the resources of the peninsula were attractive to local hunters and fishermen since ancient times numerous. Signs of seasonal settlements of ancient Itelmen and probably Ainu have been found here.