Earth's Natural Wonders in
Length: .6 miles (1 km)
Width: .3 miles (.5 km)
Tyuleniy Island is an
uninhabited island in the Caspian
Sea. It is located 47 km eastwards
of the western coast of the Caspian
Sea, near the entrance to the Kizlyar
Gulf. The island has a length of 10
km and a width of 6 km. There is a
meteorological station on it. There
are many Caspian seals in Tyuleniy,
hence its name, which means "seal"
in Russian. Since parts of the islands
are marshy, there are also many birds.
This island belongs to the Dagestan
Republic, a federal subject of the
Tyulenii is a fabulous
place -- a reminder of how prolific
nature can be. Sadly it is, too, a
reminder of how much Japan has lost.
Northern Japan also once had fur seal
and sea lion rookeries and haulouts.
Today these creatures are long-since
lost, like so many seabirds, too,
to the ubiquitous, merciless, coastal
fishing nets. In early September fur
seals overrun the island. Four different
types of seals are known to frequent
the island, chocolate-brown fur seals,
Steller's sea lions, spotted seals
and the ringed real.
There is a polite term
for the accumulation of sloughed fur,
skin and deposited feces that with
the passage of time and thousands
of bodies becomes polished into the
rock surface until it is inseparable
from it -- "fur seal marble."
It does indeed bear a strange resemblance
to a smooth gray marble. On Tyulenii,
fur seal marble was everywhere, but
particularly on the upper sloping
tableland of rock where the majority
of fur seals had taken up residence.
Tyulenii Island is a
remote and isolated island located
on a low slab of rock that rises 26
to 32 feet above sea level. Northern
fur seals crowd its beaches who come
to breed and give birth in the summer.
Along the northern end and towards
the east coast female Stellar's sea
lions establish their harems and bully
the fur seals as the huge bull sea
lions battle over space. The fur seals
extend their territory up the eastern
slopes onto the flat rock table land
of the island; here they share the
open space with common murres.
So abundant are the murres that they
seem to carpet the island in black
and white, and towards the end of
the summer thousands of discarded
or lost eggs lie in heaps in gullies
and crevices. No space is spared,
no ledge left unused; even though
the roofs of the ranger and researcher's
huts are taken over as extensions
of the nesting and resting grounds.
Auklets nests between the floor and
underneath the upturned boats that
line the beach. It is hard to imagine
a higher density of wildlife than
exists on Tyulenii Island.