The "Hogland” expedition is one of the longest and most famous projects in the modern history of the Russian Geographical Society. Since 2013, its participants, with the support of the traditional partner of the Russian Geographical Society, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, are exploring the so-called Outer Islands of the Gulf of Finland, revealing unique data on the history and nature of this part of Europe. The sixth season of the expedition was not an exception.
In 2018, the main focus of the expedition was on the island of Bolshoy Tyuters. The granite rock with an area of 8.3 square kilometers is still one of the most mysterious places in the Gulf of Finland and the witness of many historical events. Previously, the island has been almost inaccessible to scientists.
It is worth mentioning that it is important to complete works on Bolshoy Tyuters as quickly as possible, because the island has become a part of the East of the Gulf of Finland state reserve and received a status of a protected area. The expedition members need another year to conduct the third large-scale volunteer environmental watch and restore the roads, which are necessary to ensure fire safety. After that scientific projects and programs for educational and ecological tourism will be launched on Bolshoy Tyuters and organized groups of scientists and travelers will be able to visit the island, accompanied by instructors.
This year the remaining military-technical historical objects, previously discovered by the searchers and earth scientists from the Russian Geographical Society, have been removed from Bolshoy Tyuters. Almost all the guns were extracted from sand dunes of 3-6 meters in depth: these were the guns that made up one of the powerful anti-aircraft batteries that allowed Nazi Germany to keep Leningrad in the blockade block and prevent the Soviet ships and planes from going to the Central Baltic areas.
The Kronstadt branch of the Patriot Park will be replenished with unique exhibits thanks to the expedition and servicemen of the Western Military District: three FlaK 18, recognized as the best cannons of the World War II, an artillery anti-aircraft fire control point (PUAZO), a searchlight for detecting and "maintaining" air targets and a number of other very interesting objects. A special place in the exposition will be given to the brightest find of this year, the so-called "slukhach", a sound-measuring station that helped German operators determine the approach of our planes. This acoustic device is unique for Russian museums. The Hogland expedition members were able to make sure that a number of units and technics were in proper operation and they emphasized the good condition of their preservation.
These "witnesses" of the history have already been delivered to the mainland with the help of the largest serial helicopter in the world, the Mi-26, and the high-speed landing boat "Serna".
This year there has been a lot of work on the island with the preparation for the launch of the new reserve. Experts of the expedition compiled a plan for the registration of protected sites and liquidation of the consequences of anthropogenic load, studied and plotted routes on the map of the island, along which future visitors of the reserve can move without harming nature, formed excursion programs, and estimated the amount of necessary resources.
At the same time, changes that occurred with the nature of the island were recorded: the new species of vascular plants were discovered by botanists of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The expedition members were pleased to record a significant reduction in the population of raccoon dogs that appeared on the Bolshoy Tyuters a few years ago and almost led to an ecological catastrophe. The fact is that the island is on the migration route of migratory birds and serves them not only as a resting place, but also as a kind of "maternity home". Thousands of years, birds could have used the backwaters, rocks and pine forests for themselves and their offspring, but the arrival of predatory strangers has changed everything. In 2016, always deafening bird noise on the swamps of the island was not heard anymore, swans and their friends, white-tailed eagles, disappeared from the northern bay. Raccoon-shaped dogs destroyed nestlings and began to exterminate adult specimens. The insatiable appetite of these animals also caused damage to the families of forest dormouse and squirrels. Fortunately, this year uninvited guests are neither audible nor visible.
It should be noted that last summer was not very simple for the nature of Bolshoy Tyuters. The air temperature broke all records, and precipitations seemed to have forgotten about the island; there were no rains for more than two months. The old wells stood empty, trees and grasses withered in the sunlight, the harvest of blueberries and strawberries was completely lost. All this could not but affect the animals living here.
One of the most revealing situations was with the offspring of a dead squirrel, which took a fancy to a hollow near the lighthouse and thereby saved its babies. When technician of the lighthouse, caretaker of the reserve Julia Rybakova, found little squirrels, they were at the edge of death, but her skillful hands and kind heart made a miracle. Now young squirrels are stronger and they will be released into the wild in spring.
Drought complicated life and expeditions. The team would hardly have succeeded without the help of the Leningrad naval base, which several times delivered water to the island.
It is important that this year the expedition is marked with a special event. The initiative to assign the names of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War to the ships of the Baltic Fleet was supported, and on the Day of the Russian Navy in the parade on the Neva the boats "Alexey Barinov" and "Ivan Pasko» were presented.
The fate of the military, the history of their exploits, the details of the operations that they headed, the battle for the Gulf of Finland as a whole are also in the focus of the expedition of the Society. The team managed to find hundreds of previously unknown facts, names and events in the archives and during field search and to tell the world about them. But one secret that the expedition members are trying to uncover along with the representatives of the "Search Movement of Russia" remains a mystery: the remains of Soviet paratroopers who died on the islands of Hogland, Bolshoy Tyuters and Sommers are not found yet, but there is still some hope to find them, so the work will continue.
The interaction with the Expedition Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Unarmia Movement will also continue. This year the Krasnodar regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society helped young people from Kuban to join the expedition. Participants from the Penza and Leningrad region and from Tyumen also visited the Outer Islands. They went on fascinating excursions, listened to lectures on history and ecology and learned the basics of tourism and search business. The team of the expedition is sincerely glad that they have contributed to the youth's interest in the history and nature of their native country and that the necessary equipment for the field camps and the rich experience of the specialists participating in the project have helped the education of young patriots.
"This was the second trip of the participants of the Movement to the Outer Islands of the Gulf of Finland," said Alexander Ageyev, representative of the Expedition Center of the Ministry of Defense of Russia, who headed the expedition. "In spring, Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu recommended to expand the expedition groups and invite students of Nakhimov Naval School and Suvorov Military School. The students are very grateful for this opportunity. They say that this was their most interesting summer. "
The aim of one of the routes of the expedition was the lighthouse "Hogland Yuzhny", where this year serious repair has begun. The work is provided by the Navy with the assistance of the Russian Geographical Society.
The "Hogland" team knows firsthand about the state of hydrographic objects in the Gulf of Finland and offered its help in repair and restoration works.
Unpredictable Baltic weather and remoteness from the mainland significantly complicate the already difficult task of bringing to worthy appearance objects that have long celebrated their centenary jubilees. To deliver materials, create normal conditions for professionals and volunteers, preserve the historical appearance. In fact, it is a real challenge. But still, it is accepted. And this year the lighthouse on Rodsher, the westernmost island of Russia, will appear in its pristine splendor, and the lighthouses on Hogland will get absolutely new, renovated roofs.
The next year, the plans are to complete the work on Hogland and within the short Baltic summer, to do all the work on Bolshoy Tyuters whose brutal gothic lighthouse, crowning the highest rock of the island, has become a symbol of the Hogland expedition of the Russian Geographical Society.