30 Sep — 2020
"Is it realm of the ocean or waste?": Sea of Life ecological festival

On September 26, in the center of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the fifth regional ecological festival Sea of Life took place. This year the theme was responsible consumption.

The water area, flora and fauna of the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve are protected from direct harmful human impact. Due to this fact the population of sea otters, humpbacks and other marine mammals has been restored over the years, which not only support biodiversity, but also guarantee the stability of the ecosystem. However, more and more often, people and animals are faced with another danger - the indirect harmful effects of humans - plastic pollution. This year, the team of the CINBR decided to approach the issue of pollution of the World Ocean by talking about the bird world, whose life is inextricably linked with marine resources.

People gathering around workshop area. Photo by Matvey Paramoshin

On the eve of the festival, employees of the Awareness Building Department held a screening of Chris Jordan's feature film "Albatross" in the Kamchatka Regional Scientific Library. “For the first time it was visited by a middle-age adult audience. The average age of the guests was 35-40 years. There were about 20 people with whom, from the discussion of the film itself, we came to the reflections expressed by Saint-Exupery in Citadel: “The pain of one is no less than the pain of the whole world.. And the Love of one - no matter how absurd it may be - sways the stars of the Milky Way,"- said the press service of the reserve.

This film inspired the team of the reserve to create an art object - an albatross with plastic particles in its stomach, as a symbol of the CINBR in the struggle for plastic-free ocean. The albatross became the central figure of the festival program, and was placed on a mini-exposition of the Waste Museum, a fragment of which the employees recreated on the central square of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. For this, the reserve team brought from Bering Island a trawl net and various buoys brought by the storm from the Pacific Ocean to the Commander Islands.

After the natural world and the story about the birds of the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve, the slogan of which is "It is realm of the Ocean", the guests of the festival got on an excursion to the world of people, where they faced local problems of pollution of the World Ocean and got an idea of the main threats to marine ecosystems in general, and avifauna in particular. They left the site with a question: "Is it realm of the ocean or waste?" The answer awaited them in the lecture hall. 

Presentation of a new bestiary themed picture. Photo by Matvey Paramoshin 

"Is it realm of the ocean or waste?"

Trying to comprehend this issue, the Awareness Builidng Department of the reserve recalled the bestiaries and realized that every era has its own demons, and wanted to explain it clearly.

In the XIII-XIV centuries, a compass and nautical charts appeared in Europe. On these maps, the coastline was depicted very accurately, and the inner parts of the continents and the open ocean remained empty, but more often they were filled with pictures from the life of the peoples inhabiting them and various monsters. There were three reasons why monsters were painted there.

The first is in historical chronology - hallucinations and deception. Some seafarers were convinced that they really saw what they describe: mermaids, sea dragons and leviathans. For a long time, these images were collected in special books - bestiaries - beautifully illustrated medieval "zoological" collections that have come down to us in part. 

The second reason is the designation of danger: either a crash happened in these places, or no one went there before. In both cases, you probably don't want to go there. This technique was widely used in medieval cartography.  The third and the most recent reason is that maps were simply decorated with these images, making them unique, and therefore more expensive.  

And if the fear of the unknown is a demon that descended from medieval maps, then the demon of our time is plastic that pollutes the ocean, as our guests saw after watching the film and touring the Waste Museum. 

For clarity and emotional experience, the reserve team decided to combine these two images, on the one hand, denoting the unity of time and the continuity of cultures, on the other hand, the ability of a person to cope with any difficulties, and presented a picture created especially for the festival. 

Map with humanoid monster from the Urbano Monte manuscript atlas of 1590

"This is an interpretation of a map with a humanoid monster from the Urbano Monte manuscript atlas of 1590, where we replaced the monster symbolizing danger and fear with a recognizable image of a plastic bag," the reserve notes

The idea is simple: as we now sail the entire ocean, one day we will be able to make it clean. But in order to make it clean, one must admit that he or she needs it and understand that in the global cycle, all our local actions matter: conscious consumption, reusable objects, preference for alternatives to disposable plastic (where possible), recycling and environmental education at all levels.  

Is it realm of the ocean or waste?

It depends on us.


Creative workshop prepared by VGIK volunteer Anastasia Rvantseva. Photo by Kamilla Belevkina 

On Bering Island

Simultaneously with the events in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the Sea of Life festival opened a children's Ecological Guest-Room in the visitor center of the reserve in Nikolskoye on Bering Island after a long quarantine break.

It was not a discovery for the permanent participants of the Eco Guest-Room that the albatross and other inhabitants of the sea need our protection. In the 30s of the XX century, the short-tailed albatross was already on the verge of extinction, it was almost exterminated. Now two brothers - short-tailed and black-footed albatrosses are listed in the Red Data Books of the Russian Federation, IUCN and Asia and are protected under various international agreements. But so far, there are no agreements that would keep these and other birds from debris, especially from plastic littering the ocean.

The Sea of Life festival in Nikolskoye has become not only a platform for discussing a global problem, but also a holiday. An acting workshop, prepared by a volunteer of the reserve, a graduate of VGIK and director Anastasia Rvantsova, added to the positive emotions. And some of the participants also took part in the competition for the best seabird costume and received gifts for their efforts. Children also made albatrosses out of cardboard, and some of the sea travelers “flew” to the houses of the festival guests.


Заповедная Россия English

Заповедная Россия English