Waterproof Cruises

Sea of Okhotsk

A birding and wildlife lovers paradise!

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Expedition Cruise Sea of Okhotsk

The upper regions of the Sea of Okhotsk remain frozen for much of the year and winter storms make it an inhospitable place. However the lure of a rich fishery and more recently oil and gas discoveries means this sea is still being exploited. Despite this seemingly relentless exploitation, the wildlife thrives, including the beautiful and rare seals, sea eagles and bears. On three small islands within this sea, hundreds of Steller Sea lions haul out each year to breed. One of these, Tyulenly Island, also is home to one of the largest concentrations and breeding colonies of Northern Fur seals in the Russian Far East.

Seabird numbers in the Sea of Okhotsk can only be described as spectacular. There are islands like Talan where the sky darkens when the Crested auklets start massing offshore for the evening. Other birds include guillemots, puffins, auklets and fulmars. But the richness of birdlife is not restricted to pelagic species. The Sea of Okhotsk has one of the highest concentration of the majestic Steller's Sea eagle of anywhere in the Russian Far East. Harder to find, but not uncommon on this expedition, are the magnificent Kamchatka brown bears and other impressive land mammals such as snow sheep.

This is a truly unique destination that travels through a remote and seldomly visited region. A region with a rich history and very unique wildlife, both on land as in the water. There are still discoveries to be made and so for the adventurous and open minded wildlife lover, this is a dream expedition.

This is a sample itinerary. Locations and ports depend on the vessel and departure dates of your choice. The exact route of your voyage will depend on the weather conditions. We do our utmost to guarantee the best experience, unfortunately we have no control over the weather or wildlife behaviour.

  • Western coast of the Sea of Okhotsk

    Tyuleniy Island

    This small island off the south east coast of Sakhalin Island is a strong hold for seals and sea lions. Fur Seal numbers have increased immensly since the ban on seal hunting. And since Steller sea lions started breeding on the island in the 1990's, their colony now counts around 2500 animals. We hope to do a landing here to photograph the seals and sea lions.

    Piltun Bay, Sakhalin Island

    It was the discovery of oil and gas in this region which put Sakhalin Island on the map. Piltun Bay is an important habitat for the small population of western Gray whales. Researchers monitor the population during the summer months. We go in search of the Gray whales by zodiac, into the shallow waters where they often feed.

    Malminskie Islands

    Numerous species breed here including large numbers of Spectacled guillemot. We might also spot several types of auklets, puffins, and guillemots. And there is a good population of Steller’s Sea eagles. It's a birders paradise!

  • Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk

    Iony Island

    Iony Island lies in the middle of the Sea of Okhotsk, it is really just a rock, but what it lacks in physical size it more than makes up for wildlife. Birds appear to take up all available space; there are guillemots, kittiwakes and various species of auklets, with Parakeet, Whiskered and Least being the most prominent. We will zodiac cruise around the island as Steller sea lions occupy the few rocky beaches, making any landing impossible.

    Shantar Archipelago

    Lying in the western sector of the Sea of Okhotsk close to the continent, the islands in this archipelago are amongst the last place in the Sea of Okhotsk to become ice free each year. This late ice can sometimes restrict how far we can explore here; on the other hand ice increases our chances of seeing some of the seals including Bearded, Ringed, Largha and Ribbon seals that breed here. If we can land there will be birding, botany and photography excursions led by our team of on board naturalists.

  • Northern Coast

    Koni Peninsula

    This is a mountainous region to the south-east of Magadan where we might get to see brown bears and snow sheep! Many of our landings are expeditionary, meaning many will be new and unknown to us, so we are never quite sure what wildlife we will find.

    Yamskiye Islands

    These islands are claimed by some biologists to be the largest bird colony in the North Pacific. According to bird counts there are an estimated 7 million birds nesting on Matykil Island. Birds include Common and Brunnichs guillemot, Crested parakeet and Least auklets, Tufted and Horned puffins and Northern fulmars. The most abundant of these is the Least auklet. We zodiac around the coast to photograph and take in the view, as landings are not permitted.

    Talan Island

    An well-known but hard to reach bird island. Talan is famous for the huge colony of Crested auklets that nest there. There are also an extraordinary number of kittiwakes nesting along the cliffs and not surprisingly a large population of Steller’s Sea eagles. We plan to circumnavigate the island by zodiac and do a shore landing.

  • Cities of the Russian Far East


    This town has been featured in history since the earliest Cossack explorers came from the west. Today, Okhotsk is the centre of fishing in the region. The port exports significant quantities of salmon and other fish. We take the zodiac up the river and land near the town centre to meet local people and get a taste of the culture.


    Magadan is infamous for the oppressive Gulags (prisons) of the past, but thre are little remains of the town’s tragic past. The local museum has an excellent display about the Gulags but the most poignant reminder is the ‘Mask of Sorrow’ a large monument on a hill overlooking the town. Today Magadan is a fishing and mining town of about 100,000 people.


    Petropavlovsk is the administrative and cultural center of the Kamchatka region. The city was founded in 1740 by Vitus Bering, the famous Danish explorer who worked for the Russian Navy. The town's geographical location on the sheltered Avacha Bay and at the mouth of the Avacha River made that it has developed into the most important settlement in Kamchatka. Positioned against a beautiful backdrop of high mountain peaks, this city has some nice surprises in store for you.

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Call us today on +31 (0) 858 771 583