Coke & Som Smith Photography & Travelogue

World's Wildest Places III: The Wild's of Russia



Peninsula College

C-SF 003 N550

Winter Quarter, 2008

Meeting Tuesdays 3:30-5:30 PM

From January 15 through February 12, 2008


Instructor’s name: Alexander Coke Smith

Phone number and/or email: 360-565-1571 (


  • Instructor Qualifications: MS degrees with concentrations in Conservation Biology, Evolutionary Biology and Entomology as well as being an avid traveler and professional naturalist. 


  Course Catalog Description: Join expert photographer and naturalist, Coke Smith for another fantastic photo-based seminar series, this time covering the wildest places in the amazing country of Russia. In this series, travel with Coke to such wilderness areas as Kamchatka, Commander Islands, and the Kuril Islands. You will also be able to join on an exciting Siberian Tiger trek in the Primorya region of the Russian Far East. And no journey would be complete without sailing and trekking in Lake Baikal! This will be a five seminar series in photo-essay form that will no doubt leave you wanting to journey to Russia too! Washington State clock hours offered.

Course Objectives: To provide students with a greater appreciation for the natural history and biological diversity of many of Russia’s wildest places.


Course Outline:


January 15, 2008Primorya: Land of the Siberian Tiger

In this photo essay, learn how a simple American family tracked the elusive Siberian tiger through the wilderness of the Russian Far East.  In this photo essay, we will explore the vast wilderness of the tiger; see wild Himalayan black bear, sika deer and tons of other animals.  We will watch how a five-year-old can find sign of the wild Amur leopard, one of only 34 of those animals left on earth!


January 22, 2008: Russia's Amazing Lake Baikal

Containing one fifth of the world's fresh water, the lake offers incredible wilderness and ancient Buryat culture.  We spent two weeks cruising the wilds of the lake, being chased by 600kg brown bears, swimming with Nerpa (Baikal seals!) and trekking in the Siberian high country.  Also learn how a typical Siberian family lives – home-stay was a common mode of accommodation while in this very remote location.


January 29, 2008: Kuril Islands: Land of Volcanoes and Wilderness

Rarely visited, the Kurils are a vast volcanic archipelago containing one of the Pacific rims highest concentrations of volcanoes and geologic wonders.  Being some of the most remote islands on the planet, their wilderness is pristine and relatively untouched.  This photo essay will exhibit much of the incredible bird life and marine animal assemblages - great whale shots! 


February 05, 2008Kamchatka: Land of the Russian Brown Bear

Formed by the ring of fire, this amazing wilderness offers naturalists an endless array of wild animals and flora.  We will spend time tracking Kamchatka brown bears, one of the world's largest subspecies, in the peninsula's wild interior.  We will also view images of a coastal expedition exhibiting amazing wildlife images.  Perhaps one of the most exciting series of shots is the huge Steller's Sea eagle seen in the dozens near the edges of this natural wonder.


February 12, 2008: Commander Islands:  One of the World's Remotest Wildernesses

Discovered by Vitus Bering almost three hundred years ago, the Commanders are a naturalist's paradise.  Home to massive colonies of northern fur seal and Steller’s sea lions, the islands are an unspoiled wilderness.  One of Earth's largest rookeries of the red-legged kittiwakes, the Commanders are home to dozens of other rare and beautiful bird species.  In this photo essay we will learn about tragic history of these spectacular islands as well as their diverse flora and fauna.  One of the most fascinating members of the Commander family is the fearless Medny Island blue-arctic fox, which is a -unique subspecies. 




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