Monday, April 27, 2009

Misterious Elgygytgyn Lake, Central Chukotka

Elgygytgyn Lake is the most interesting water body of the North-Eastern Asia. Imagine treeless tundra of Central Chukotka (68°N) with sloping mountains. Right at the divide between the Arctic Ocean (Chaun River) and Pacific Ocean (Anadyr River) these mountains form a perfect ring 17 km across.
This hollow has space origin: it was formed by an impact of a huge meteorite 3.5 million years ago. Elgygytgyn is considered the biggest of the young meteorite craters on the Earth surface. About a half of the surface of this ring is filled by water – by a round lake 12 km across and up to 180 m deep.
Elgygytgyn Lake on June 30, 1986
The mountains around the lake are populated by the biggest population of wild caribou in Chukotka
The lake is extremely cold – the temperature near the bottom is never above 2,5-3ºC, and on the surface it is always near freezing. Elgygytygn Lake is too cold for most fish species to survive; it is inhabited by 3 species of charr. Charr community of the lake is represented by a big predator, Boganid charr, and two endemic small species, feeding on zooplankton – small-mouth charr and long-fin charr.
llong-fin charr - Salvethymus svetovidovi (on top)
small-mouth charr - Salvelinus elgyticus
Boganid charr - Salvelinus boganidae
The weight of the biggest specimens of Boganid charr in the Elgygytgyn Lake can be about 15 kg, my own record fish was 9 kg. Open-water tackle can be used from mid June (in holes near the mouth of tributaries) till the freezing of the lake (September).

Boganid charr in spawning colors

June 1986. Two charrs caught in the hole along the bank. Record 9 kg fish caught through the ice.
Long-fin charr belongs to new genus of Salmonids, discovered in 1985. Scientific name of the genera – Salvethymus - was created out of the words Salvelinus (charr) and Thymallus (grayling). At first sight this fish looks similar to both charr and grayling. The genus has only one species, kindred to charrs. Long-fin charr is ancient fish with many primitive features. It is considered to be close to ancestor of all charrs. Long-fin charr are slow-growing fish: the biggest specimen was 30 cm long; its age was 30 years!
Long-fin charr (male in spawning colors) Long-fin charr in the hole in the ice

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