Large-scale studies of the lake ecosystem in Southern Kamchatsky Reserve have been started. The lake is the breeding place for Asia's largest herd of valuable wild salmon. The field work is carried out with the use of the latest technologies - hydroacoustic and aerial photography. This approach will provide more accurate estimates of the number of reproductively active salmons for further forecasts and regulation of the fishery. The main goal of the project is to maintain the delicate balance between a man and the nature. The research is planned until mid-September.
The well-being of natural complexes, inhabitants of the south of Kamchatka, and the economy of the Kamchatka Krai depend on red salmon. The main fishery is carried out in the Sea of Okhotsk, in the mouth of Ozernaya river. Fish enter Kuril Lake along this river for spawning. Kamchatka brown bears are among the main wild salmon consumers living on the coast of the lake. Fish that died after spawning are also a natural organic fertilizer for vegetation.
The herd of Ozernovskaya red salmon is not only the largest in Asia, but also the most studied. Since 1940, these salmon have been studied by employees of Kamchatka Research Institute of Fishery and Oceanography (formerly TINRO). Scientists monitor the condition and number of herds in the lake and Ozernaya river, as well as in the Pacific Ocean, where red salmon feed fattening for several years. The scientists provide recommendations to fishermen to establish passing days. These days are necessary to let the sufficient number of spawners enter the lake for spawning and providing the full reproduction of the herd. According to experts, the optimal number is 1.7 million individuals.
"Today there is a need to conduct a detailed environmental study of Kuril Lake. We need to understand whether the number of red salmon passing for spawning is really enough not only for its reproduction, but also to ensure the well-being of the entire ecosystem of the lake. It is important to create conditions for the fish resources to be enough for reproduction, for people, bears and in general for the conservation of the nature of the south of Kamchatka, - said Piotr Shpilenok, director of the Federal State Budgetary Institution "Kronotsky State Reserve". - We invited leading experts in the area of studying the spatial distribution of water inhabitants to perform the task and assess their number using the latest technologies".
The program of environmental study of Kurile lake involves employees of KamchatNIRO, Kronotsky Reserve, the Institute for Ecology and Evolution and the Institute of Biology of Inland Waters. Specialists will assess the spatial distribution of spawning concentration spots of red salmon using a hydroacoustic method and with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles. And they will also conduct an aerovisual assessment of dynamics of the spawning areas filling and perform accounting of red salmon spawners at a fish counting barrier at the source of Ozernaya River.
Also there will be performed the assessment of the seasonal distribution, dynamics of the relative number and gender and age composition of brown bears in the mouths of the main rivers used for spawning and along the perimeter of Kuril Lake as well as an assessment of the red salmon consumption by bears in river spawning areas.