Region of the Russian Federation: Kamchatsky Krai

Site Status: inscribed in the Tentative List of the Russian Federation in 2005

Status of Territories composing the Site:
Komandorsky State Nature Biosphere Reserve named after S.V.Marakov (684500, Kamchatsky Krai, Aleutsky District, Nikolskoye settlement, ul. Gagarina, 4)

The Commander Islands, the peaks of a grand submarine volcanic ridge bordering the Bering Sea from the south, form the westernmost part of the Aleutian Island arc, linking Asia and North America and contributing to biogeographic ties between the continents. That is why the islands’ flora and fauna comprise many species of North American origin, some not found elsewhere in Russia. Many endemic species are especially valuable: Arctic fox, rock ptarmigan, rock sandpiper, ancient murrelet, wren, gray-crowned rosy finch, Bering cinquefoil and others.

Mountain tundra, covering most of the islands, adds to the unusual beauty. Its evolution took place in the absence of permafrost and without the influence of phytophagous animals (even-hoofed mammals and rodents) that play a key role in the formation of tundra communities on the continent.

Intricate sea cliffs and rock ourcrops, expanses of plain tundra, low-mountain massifs with steep slopes and narrow valleys of numerous rivers and streams, forming dozens of waterfalls, constantly changing marine landscapes and even frequent mists — all give the islands their image.

The coastal strip is notable for biodiversity of marine mammals and sea birds that form, for Russia, uniquely large multi-special gatherings. Sea otters, common and spotted seals are permanent inhabitants. Rookeries of northern fur seal and Steller’s sea lion are being restored.

Around the islands are fattening and wintering zones or migration paths of porpoises, sperm, killer, Couvier’s beaked, Minke, humpbacked, sei, fin and other whales.

Exceptional diversity of marine landscapes and biocenoses is concentrated at the coast, where practically the whole ocean vertical zoning – from littoral to ultra-abissal — is found.

Since 1958, all economic activity including commercial harvesting of fish and other marine organisms has been prohibited within a 30-mile coastal zone. As a result, the shelf has remained undisturbed — very rare in the Far East fishery region.