The joint expedition of the RGS and the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation to the Tersky Coast of the White Sea has ended. Its participants studied the cultural and historical features of the life of the Pomors, and also assessed the ecological state of the coast.
The direction of the new expedition was not chosen by chance – it was from the Tersky Coast that the development of the Kola Peninsula and the entire Arctic region by migrants from the central part of the Eurasian continent began. The Tersky Coast has been actively inhabited by people from Novgorod lands since the 15th century. The first permanent settlement – "Korelsky pogost in Arzuga" (now the village of Varzuga) – is mentioned in the annals of 1419; and the village of Umba – since 1466. The fishing huts and salt furnaces appeared on the seashore, the number of which later grew and turned into settlements that have survived to the present.
The expedition participants identified several tasks for themselves: to reveal the possibilities of preserving the historical and cultural heritage of the Pomors of the Tersky Coast, to identify landscape and ecological features of the territory, to understand the role of anthropogenic factors in the formation of landscapes and the current geoecological situation, including the assessment of the volume of marine debris on the White Sea coast.
In five days, the expedition covered more than 1200 km by car; part of the way was covered by sea on boats.
The route ran through the entire Kola Peninsula from north to south, from Murmansk to Kandalaksha, and then along the White Sea coast to the east through the ancient Pomor villages of Umba, Olenitsa, Kuzreka, Kashkarantsy, Varzuga, Kuzomen, Chavanga, and Tetrino.
During the expedition, the sites of the Pomor camps, fishing villages and settlements with a rich history were examined. Interesting cultural, historical, and everyday facts were revealed, already known information was clarified by the method of personal conversations about the way of life, traditions, and customs with local historians, long-time residents, and newcomer residents from coastal settlements.
The Pomors from the different coasts of the White Sea have a lot in common in everyday life, language, and culture. All of them consider themselves descendants of Novgorodians who came to explore the North. Much in the culture of the Pomors echoes the customs of the neighboring Finno-Ugric peoples – the Sami, the Finns, the Karelians. Significant borrowings were made from the languages of these peoples in the names of the realities of northern nature, household items and fishing tools, which also indicates the borrowing of these objects themselves and the methods of fishing. Today, some Pomor families retain the features of traditional life.
The basis of the life of the Pomors, as before, is sea and river fishing. The villages of the Tersky Coast had their own "specialization" in fishing since time immemorial. For example, for fishermen from the village of Varzuga, this was mainly fishing for salmon entering the river. Residents of the village of Kashkarantsy fished for herring. Men from Kuzomen and Kashkarantsy some years went to the pressure ridges to hunt seals on the ice in the area of the White Sea Throat. The Pomors of the entire White Sea coast, including the Tersky, also went to Murmansk cod fishing for large Barents Sea cod and halibut. But the Tersky Pomors were less likely than others to engage in these difficult and dangerous fishing activities, since the rivers of the Tersky Coast, rich in the Atlantic salmon, often provided enough for living.
The fishing huts visited by the expedition participants prove that approaches to fishing, its methods and tools have not undergone significant changes over the centuries. Karbass boats are still made of wood and have a special design that provides the necessary stability for lifting a heavy seine out of the water. Nets are also made from traditional materials.
The only thing that has been introduced into the fishing processes as an "achievement of civilization" is plastic bottles used as floats for seines, instead of "authentic" ones made of birch bark.
As part of the continuation of the international project MALINOR, an assessment of the volume of marine debris on the White Sea coast was carried out. It showed its almost complete absence on the surveyed coastal areas of the White Sea, in contrast to the heavily polluted coast of the Sredny Peninsula in the Barents Sea. This once again confirms the crucial role of the currents of the Gulf Stream system in bringing marine debris in the direction from west to east.
Dmitry Novikov, Captain 2nd rank, a member of the RGS from the Murmansk Regional Branch, was in charge of the expedition to the Tersky Coast. Ksenia Myachina, Doctor of Geographical Sciences, lead researcher at the Institute of Steppe of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Council of the Orenburg Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society, was invited as a supervisor. The expedition also included the media group of GTRK "Murmansk", which is preparing a documentary about the region and its inhabitants.
The participants of the expedition are unanimous in their opinion: such comprehensive local history research trips have a synergetic effect, allowing you to significantly broaden your horizons, mutually integrate knowledge and skills, combine different goals and objectives, as well as develop interregional cooperation between the branches of the RGS.