The Northeast Passage

Published on 09 November 2017 in Book reviews

By Tony Soper

Venture Books, 2017; pbk, 132 pp; many colour photographs, 8 maps and appendices

ISBN 978-0-9553801-2-9; £13.99

Only recently have wildlife cruises traversed some of the most inhospitable coasts, seas and islands of Arctic Russia. This book is a fascinating narrative that takes you through the recently opened Northeast Passage, which is now briefly navigable during the Arctic summer. After a brief introductory section on the opening of the Northeast Passage, the bulk of the book is split into six chapters covering the passage west to east – Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, Chukchi Sea and Bering Strait.

The text is brought vividly to life with many excellent photographs of townships and settlements, habitats, birds, mammals and plants. It is not a large book and therefore some of the images are rather small, but they all help to complete the picture. The main text gives many interesting facts about the various islands together with the birds and mammals likely to be encountered. The many seabird cliffs are mentioned but the state of the ice may limit access to some of them. Some 17 birds and 13 mammals are given further treatment in sections of text printed on pale green boxes.

The three appendices give, briefly, more information about the birds, mammals and plants with lists of the noteworthy species (in scientific and English, and additionally in Russian for the birds). Useful websites and charts are also listed. If you are contemplating sailing the Northeast Passage, then this book is a ‘must have’.

Robin Prytherch