Scientific-research vessel Professor Gagarinsky returned from its 40th trip on October 20, 2004, which lasted for almost a month during which specialists studied ecological situation at the northeastern part of the Sakhalin shelf in the area of oil-extracting platforms of the American company "Sakhalin Energy Investment Company". Among participants were staff members of the Pacific Oceanological Institute from Vladivostok, Institute of Sea Biology of the RAS Far-Eastern Branch and Maritime Department of Hydrometeorological Service, as well as representatives of some other scientific organizations. The Far-Eastern State Technological University, which had won the tender to carry out corresponding research ordered by the above-mentioned foreign company, was a coordinator and program manager.
The expedition's objective was to collect material allowing to assess natural conditions on the assumed route of marine oil pipelines, and also in the area of current and planned oil platforms*. For this water and bottom sediment samples were collected to determine the hydrocarbon and heavy metal content; special devices were used for sounding sea strata. Biologists were mainly interested in the state of offshore strip inhabitants: phytoplankton, different animals, including grey whales, whose population here is rather small, that is why the "greens" are worried about decreasing number of these water mammals. The expedition examined 83 concrete points. The collected material was submitted for further analysis in stationary conditions of onshore laboratories.
One would think that it was an ordinary trip. Besides, it was focused almost exclusively on the solution of applied tasks and not on the problems of academic science. Nevertheless, the obtained data will prove useful for theoretical studies as well. But, apparently, that is not the main thing.
The experience of Professor Gagarinsky has demonstrated: it will be expedient in future for scientific specialized vessels of the RAS Far-Eastern Branch to combine economic-contractual works with academic ones embracing offshore strips of Okhotsk and Japanese seas. And as the decision to develop the Sakhalin shelf by foreign companies in our country has been taken at the government level, the relevant oil extracting companies will be obliged in future to finance ecological monitoring. This will help strengthen the scientific potential of the RAS Far-Eastern Branch by means of purchasing devices, development of infrastructure, support of staff members, theoretical studies. The qualification of native specialists will allow them to win again in tenders to carry out such works. Say, in case of success in the next tender, two more expeditions of Professor Gagarinsky will take place in 2004 - 2005.
Dalnevostochny uchyony (Far-Eastern Scientist), 2004
Prepared by Rudolf BALANDIN
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