How it works

"Hysterical creatures": How to restore the population of Baikal whitefish

An expedition to restore the Baikal whitefish population in the upper Barguzin River is carried out every year by the scientists of the Irkutsk Limnological Institute and on their initiative. Travel guide Dasha Filippova joined a small team of scientists as a volunteer and told Life around about the peculiar habits of pregnant fish and edelweiss and hot springs in the Barguzinsky Valley.

About fish with love


Omul's mother flock are very hysterical creatures: the pool literally boils


Roads in the Barguzin Valley are mostly gravel and difficult. Closer to the upper reaches of the Barguzin River, they are almost absent - just track in the forest, rivers and streams have to wade across many times, and the path from Irkutsk takes more than two days.

The first point of the expedition is a fish hatchery in the village of Bolshaya Rechka near the mouth of the Selenga, and you need to hear how much love the chief fish farmer Andrey Blagodetelev speaks about whitefish and omul. The task of the plant is to breed fry from caviar and release them into the natural environment.

There are incubators with caviar, pools are installed in which the grown fish swims. The factory not only bred, but also carried out an analysis of the state of omul, whitefish and other species of Baikal fish. The holy of holies of the plant is the cage base, where the broodstock lives. Here omul spawns naturally. Ten thousand individuals of the embassy omul (there were 170 thousand 10 years ago) are very hysterical creatures. You approach the pool, and it literally boils. The pool has a double bottom: the caviar is deposited, then aluminum "wings" are turned, so the caviar is isolated from the fish so that they themselves do not eat it.

The condition of the fish - infection with parasites and other health parameters - is determined using laboratory tests. And the maturity of the fish is judged by its liver and scales - like the trunk of a tree, it forms annual rings.

Scientists usually conduct various experiments at fish factories: they inject hormones for females to quickly mature, and different types of fish are crossed, for example, whitefish and whitefish.

"Corner and spawn"


The law of nature: the more offspring, the less concern for him


The mission of the expedition is to collect caviar, fertilize it artificially and deliver it to the fish factory. At the fish factory in Bolshaya Rechka they tell how the village fishermen imagine this process: "The male drives the female into a dark corner and there they spawn!" In fact, everything is much less romantic: the female spawns under the stones or to the bottom, the male sprinkles with sperm - fertilization occurs. And then parents do nothing with caviar. There is a law in nature: the more offspring, the less concern for him, and vice versa. But caviar can be eaten by males themselves or other inhabitants of the rivers. Therefore, eggs are often “brought” to fry under artificial conditions: they are collected from a fluid (pregnant) female, fertilized by male sperm, and then they are kept for several months in incubators in hatcheries. Under these more favorable than natural circumstances, fry are born many times more than in the natural environment.

Caviar is collected not only from flowing fish, which falls into specially installed cages and nets, but also by pipettes, choosing it from the whipped silt from the bottom of streams.

Both caviar and live fish must be transported to the fish factory in cold water with ice, otherwise it may die. Only females, males are transported, after they fulfill the main function of fertilization, they are released into the clear waters of Barguzin.

Space sources


Seya resort is something cosmic: a "boiling" lake with a temperature of about 80 degrees


The Barguzinsky Valley, where the bulk of the expedition's work takes place, is the intermountain basin between the Barguzinsky and Ikatsky ranges. There are more Edelweiss here than any other herb combined, a little thyme, a little wormwood. There are many foxes and squirrels, but there were no wolves to see, although there are enough of them. There are no bears, but in the mountains nearby they are found in large numbers.

Barguzin has many tributaries and hot springs. Kurumkan is the local oasis of civilization. 200 kilometers around is the only place where there is a gas station, a supermarket, "My Documents" and other joys of the 21st century. And next - the hot springs of the mountain river Alla. There are about 50 of them along its banks, and three kilometers from the resort there is a wonderful waterfall. The gorge of Alla is striking in its beauty. In the 19th century, Sodoy Lama spoke of the gorge as a danger to the entire valley (it prophesied either a village or a similar natural cataclysm), and to prevent this, he "sealed" the gorge with a stone with mantras. Natural and religious miracles are interwoven on the Alla, as in the whole valley.

Another resort is Umhei, where a real hot river flows. But the most surprising is the Seya resort, something cosmic: a "boiling" lake with a water temperature of about 80 degrees. It “boils” from gas bubbles rising from the bottom. But when the street is slightly above zero, and the hand does not withstand the temperature of the water in which some absolutely solar algae grows - you really feel like on another planet.

Photo: Daria Filippova

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