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Maloye Morye Strait

Maloye Morye Strait

Maloye Morye Strait
Source for this data set was the Global Land Cover Facility, www.landcover.org

Between the north-western shore of the island of Olkhon and the mainland lies a strait with a name that can easily puzzle the uninitiated: Maloye Morye (Small Sea). It was not for nothing that the strait was so called. It is, after all, a sea, even if a small one. It is small only in size, by comparison with Baikal, the Bolshoye Morye. In everything else the strait yields nothing to Baikal - neither winds, nor waves, nor the beauty of its shores. Only its water is not as clear as in Bolshoi Baikal; on the other hand it is not as cold. In the past the Maloye Morye was called Narin-Dalai by the indigenous people: Tonkoye (slender) or Uzkoye (narrow) Morye.

The Maloye Morye begins at a nominal boundary passing along the line from the mainland cape Zama and the northern end of Olkhon - Cape Khoboy. Sometimes this place is called the Bolshiye Olkhonskiye Vorota.

At this place the Maloye Morye is at its widest - some 18 kilometres.

Gradually narrowing, the strait stretches to the south-west almost 70 kilometres to Mukhor Bay, which is sometimes also considered to be part of the Maloye Morye. At this point the Maloye Morye joins the waters of the Olkhonskiye Vorota Strait that wash the southern end of Olkhon and link the Maloye with the Bolshoye. Here, between the delta of the river Sarma and the Kobylya Golova peninsular, the Maloye Morye is at its narrowest - about 4 kilometres.

The Maloye Morye covers about a thousand square kilometres; the strait is up to 200 metres in depth, the greatest depth being at its widest part. Not counting Olkhon and two small islands in Mukhor Bay, there are 12 impressive rocky islands in the strait and a small pebbly island, Khynyk, close to the mouth of the Sarma. Large colonies of seagulls inhabit the islands of the strait, and, in 2006, cormorants, which had disappeared in the middle of the last century, appeared once again.

The climate of the Maloye Morye is a little milder than that of Bolshoi Baikal. There are more sunny days here and less precipitation. The line of the coast is beautiful, forming bays and inlets. For this reason the strait is very popular, especially with motorists who inflict great damage to the fragile nature of its shores.

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