What I learned

by Wayne Brown

Now that the expedition is over it is time to think about the things I learned from the expedition.

The Geology

Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands - The Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands are lands of volcanoes and geologic activity. These volcanoes are not all extinct. Many are still active. These geologically active areas could be dangerous to the people who live here because of the possibility of large volcanic eruptions or strong earthquakes. (In 1998 many people left Iturup Island because of damage from a strong earthquake.) Large eruptions from these volcanoes could affect the earth's climate in different ways. Gases from a volcanic eruption could damage the earth's protective ozone layer, leading to global warming. Large volcanic ash clouds could circle the earth and lead to global cooling. Fortunately all the of the previous eruptions in modern times have not been large enough to affect the earth's climate.

Japan - As part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan is also made of volcanoes. The Japanese islands are larger and older than the Kuril Islands. Like the Kuril Islands, Japan is also geologically active. The danger to the Japanese is mostly from earthquakes. Japan continues to have strong earthquakes that damage cities and injure people.

The Animals

Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands - The Kuril Islands are beautiful areas full of wildlife in the summer. Fortunately the Russian people have protected many of these islands for the animals that visit. I saw sea otters, whales, seals, and thousands of sea birds. I also found evidence of bears and foxes. Many of the Kuril Islands have no people living on them and the summer willdife is not directly affected by humans. Unfortunately overfishing could affect the animals that live here since they mainly depend on the oceans for their food. The Russians are working to regulate fishing so people can get their food from the waters around the Kuril Islands without seriously affecting the animals that feed here.

Japan - I did not see a lot of animals here. Japan is very developed. Many people live on all the Japanese islands. The Japanese get most of their food from the sea. There is overfishing in the waters around Japan.

The People

Russians - They were curious and interested in what I was doing in Russia, especially in a remote place such as the Kuril Islands. Most Russians I met didn't didn't seem to have a lot of money, but they seemed to have fun. They were friendly and welcomed me.

Japanese - Many of the Japanese I met were friendly, but some were not. They seemed to have more money, but seemed more serious. I did not see many people of different nationalities as I did in Russia. In the past the Japanese tried to keep foreign influence and people out of Japan. Because of this people of different nationalities are not as numerous here as in the US, Russia or other countries.

The Governments

Both Russia and Japan have democratically elected governments. Unfortunately Russia and Japan do have a problem with the Kuril Islands (See DAY 13.). The Japanese want the Russians to give them back the lower Kuril Islands. The Russians will not give them. The Russians say they will fight Japan if Japan tries to take them. (What do you think the Russians and Japanese should do to settle their problems without fighting?)

The Future?

If the Russians do give the Japanese the lower Kuril Islands the islands will never be the natural refuges that we saw and visited. Many people think that Japan would probably cut down the forests and overfish the waters around the islands. I hope these islands continue to be protected as an natural refuge for the animals that visit and live in the Kuril Islands

Thank you to all my Internet Explorers for joining me exploring the Russian Kuril Islands,

PS - Join me and Mrs. Brown in December and January on an underwater and above water expedition as we explore the coral reefs, rainforests, rivers, caves and Maya temples of Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala, in the "From the Jungle to the Sea Expedition".


I saw this gigantic volcano overlooking Petropavlosk, Russia.

Two of the many sea otters I saw during the expedition.

These are some of the fish I found at a Japanese fish market.

Some of my Russian friends on Iturup Island.

the sun sets on the Sea of Okhotsk as Odyssey leaves the Russian Kuril Islands.


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