During our stay at Bolshie Koty this summer we have been lucky to meet many wonderful and interesting people- local residents, scientists, teachers and students. Last week we had a particularly memorable meeting with Marina Rikhvanova and her colleagues. Marina is a co-founder and co-director of Baikal Ecological Wave , one of Russia’s oldest and most respected environmental advocacy organizations. Recently BEW played an instrumental role in helping to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline in the seismically active part of Lake Baikal’s watershed, an effort for which Marina was recognized with the Goldman Environmental Prize.
Marina and her team treated us to tea and told us about their sampling effort to investigate cases of waterborne illness in residents living along the shoreline of Lake Baikal. In turn, we invited Marina and her team to tour our lab, told Marina and an environmental reporter travelling with the BEW crew about our work on the biodiversity of Lake Baikal and shared some freshly collected water from the pelagic zone of Lake Baikal which Marina and her team will compare with water samples from a local stream and the littoral zone.
Our visit with the BEW crew was also an opportunity to introduce Marina to Kirill Shchapov, a graduate student from Irkutsk State University who is working with us this summer. Kirill’s work with us is supported through a Global Outreach Initiative grant to our team from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. Thanks to funding from ASLO, Kirill has the opportunity to work with our research team during this field season. He is learning new sampling and experimental methods, gaining experience working with an international team and honing his English. Together with Katie Wright, Kirill is working on an independent research project investigating the effect of temperature on egg development time, hatching rates and nauplii growth rates of endemic Baikal zooplankton. In the fall, Kirill will work with BEW, helping to develop educational brochures and inform students in Irkutsk about the scientific work taking place on Lake Baikal and the ecological problems facing the lake.