Program: The Russian Far East: Birding in a Sea of Sorrow, presented by David Pereksta.
The Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East is little known outside of Russia and seldom visited by westerners. This sea dominates the Northwest Pacific. Nearly landlocked, it is bounded to the north and west by the Russian continent, the Kamchatka Peninsula to the east, and the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin Island to the south. Its upper regions remain frozen much of the year and winter storms make it an inhospitable place, but the “Sea of Hunters” as it is translated provides a clue to the abundance of wildlife found there. Despite historical exploitation of wildlife, marine mammals and seabirds still thrive there in numbers that boggle the mind. Seabird numbers can only be described as spectacular with numbers rarely seen elsewhere in the world, including one small island with an estimated 7 million birds! However, this little-known sea also has a dark history that up until recently has been suppressed and not spoken about, and perhaps no other sea in the world has witnessed as much human suffering and misery. David had a rare opportunity to explore this incredible region in June of 2016 and will share some of his experiences with the wildlife, culture, and history in a lavishly illustrated talk with the highlights of the photos he took while there.
David Pereksta is an Avian Biologist with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, where he studies and analyzes the effects of offshore oil and gas, and renewable energy development on birds off the Pacific coast and Hawaii. Prior to his position at BOEM, Dave spent 16 years working on endangered species issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Throughout his career with various Federal and State agencies, he has studied several imperiled bird species including Snowy Plovers, Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Ospreys, Northern Goshawks, Brown Pelicans, Spotted Owls, and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. An avid birder for over 45 years, Dave has traveled throughout North America, South America, the American tropics, the South Pacific, and East Asia including leading trips to Belize, Costa Rica, Peru, and Chile. He has seen 2,200 species of birds in his travels; photographing in excess of 1,600 species along the way.