On Saturday, September 11th, unveiling of the monument to the first explorer of the Commander Islands, Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746), a famous German naturalist, associate of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, took place on Bering Island. Georg Steller was a physician and the first naturalist to explore northwest of North America, creating the first description of the Aleutian Islands. He rightfully occupies a special place among the researchers of the Commander Islands, as a pioneering biologist.
Monument to Georg Wilhelm Steller. Photo by Natalia Tatarenkova
The opening was attended by the Governor of Kamchatka Krai Vladimir Viktorovich Solodov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Denmark to Russia Karsten Sendergard, Head of the Aleutian Municipal District Svetlana Vasilyevna Arnatskaya, Director of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve Anastasia Vladimirovna Kuznetsova, residents and guests of the village of Nikolskoye.
Cutting the ceremonial ribbon at the unveiling ceremony of Georg Wilhelm Steller monument
Governor of Kamchatka Krai Vladimir Viktorovich Solodov
Head of the Aleutian Municipal District Svetlana Vasilievna Arnatskaya
Georg Wilhelm Steller monument is another creation of the famous Moscow sculptor Ilya Pavlovich Vyuev. The commanders locals are familiar with other works of the master: Vitus Bering sculpture, a series of reliefs dedicated to the explorers of the Commander Islands. His wife Inna Lipilina helped him create a surprisingly soulful and accurate image of the tireless explorer and naturalist. The head of the Historical and Cultural Heritage Preservation Department provided the necessary historical information, and another team member of the nature reserve, Ekaterina Golovina, became the designer of the site.
The installation of the monument took place at Severo-Zapadnoye rookery of marine mammals. The idea of installing a monument and the Scientists' Spot here is the right decision. It is a way to create another point of attraction for tourists on Bering Island and a gathering point for the locals - this is how the Governor of Kamchatka Krai Vladimir Viktorovich Solodov commented on the opening.
The unveiling of the monument to Georg Steller is indeed a significant event
“Together with Bering, Steller suffered a wreck and spent winter in terrible hardships, but he continued to work - to observe and research. On the island, Steller made descriptions of animals and birds previously unknown to the science. Here, on the Commanders, he described the sea cow, the sea lion, the sea cat, the sea otter and, as Steller himself wrote, "made drawings of them". The also described the spectacled cormorant, Steller's eider and the blue Arctic fox.
Here, in absolutely wild conditions for a modern person, he conceived and later wrote his main scientific work "De Bestiis Marinis" ("On Sea Animals"). This work on the island characterizes Steller perhaps better than anything else. It was work, work, work... despite the cold and hunger, despite the inconvenience and poor health, despite the abundance of administrative, completely unrelated to science, tasks... His sincere, deep dedication to science, belief in the importance of objective scientific data makes Steller close, understandable and even somehow dear to us...
For me personally, Georg Steller symbolizes a real scientist, unresting, fierce, with a complex, contradictory character, with goals inaccessible to the understanding of an ordinary person. It is Steller's personality, with his everyday unsociability, absolute honesty, incredible working ability, his kind of aspiration for the future, that is the standard of a real scientist personally for me!
And even though Georg Steller himself did not reach the Severo-Zapadny Cape, he studied Yuzhnoye or Poludennoye rookery. Today the objects of his study - seals and sea lions - have moved here! And we are sure that Steller would be glad to be here surrounded by birds and marine mammals and contemplate eternal life in its infinite variety.
Director of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve Anastasia Vladimirovna Kuznetsova
We are opening a monument, without exaggeration, to the great scientist and we speak about those who continued his research and carried the spark of scientific knowledge further, in years and centuries!" - this is how Anastasia Vladimirovna Kuznetsova, director of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve, commented on the opening of the monument in her opening speech.
Around the monument, we created a memorial complex called "Researchers of the Commander Islands Marine Mammals". It is a tribute to the memory of people who made a significant contribution to the study, protection and popularization of the Commander Islands. Their life and scientific work is, in many ways, a story of overcoming, which led to the creation of a specially protected natural area in 1993.
Moving from one information board to another, you will learn more about researchers of different periods and cognition meathods from Steller to the present day. It tells about what scientists did on the Commanders and what is their contribution to the global science.
“We see the chain of researchers, primarily researchers of marine mammals, from Steller to the present day, this thin thread along which spiritual values and scientific ideals are passed from generation to generation. So we really wanted at least the monument to Steller to be surrounded by like-minded people, scientists, researchers, naturalists. We hope we succeeded! I am proud of my feasible involvement in this work. And I want to express my deep, sincere gratitude to everyone who helped, inspired and worked with us on the way to prepare the Scientists' Spot.
Ilya Pavlovich Vyuev, Inna Lipilina, the whole family - they managed to create a surprisingly heartfelt and accurate image - the image of a tireless researcher, naturalist
Thanks to the staff of the nature reserve Natalya Tatarenkova and Ekaterina Golovina - without their advice, ideas, perseverance, everything would be completely different.
I want to say words of gratitude to the architect Maria Troitskaya and the builders of the site, Alexander Kiyaykin, Andrey Dubovskov, Eduard Chekalsky, Stepan Svidin, Vadim Sinitsyn, Yevgeny Mamaev. Special thanks to Alexei Bulannikov and Petr Yaskin without your help it would have been more difficult to do this. We thank the District Administration embodied by Svetlana Vasilievna Arnatskaya - many thanks for the invaluable help!" - Director of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve Anastasia Vladimirovna Kuznetsova.
Residents and guests of the village of Nikolskoye, participants in the grand unveiling of Georg Wilhelm Steller monument on Bering Island