The most unique animal at Lake Baikal is the freshwater seal (lat. Pusa Sibirica), known as nerpa. It is the only fresh water seal in the world. Its entire population is land-locked in the freshwater of the lake. The mystery of how the seal became trapped in the lake continues to puzzle scientists. Besides being a freshwater lake, the Baikal is hundreds of miles away from any other sea or ocean. One theory says that the Baikal seals are gone down from predecessors in the Paratethys Sea, which covered south-east Europe until 2-3 million years ago. An opposing hypothesis is that the seals are of Arctic ancestry, and migrated south through a network of rivers and lakes. Eventually the nerpa has evolved some amazing adaptations. Reaching a maximum size of 1.5 m and 90 kg, the Baikal Seal is one of the world’s smallest seals. Due to the low light conditions under the ice the seal’s eyes grew surprisingly large in comparison to the body size.
Nowadays, the Baikal Seal is a symbol and one of the most beautiful Baikal’s habitants.
It is hard to meet these animals in a natural habitat, as they are very shy. At the Irkutsk Nerpinary or Sealarium you will study seal’s character, behavior, and observe a performance. They can dance, sing, play with a ball, and even count! You might check their painting abilities and buy a painting at the auction.
By the way, don’t confuse the Irkutsk Nerpinary with Nerpinary of Listvyanka settlement, which is located 70 km from the city.
1 June – 30 September, daily from 11.00 to 18.30, except Mon, Tue
1 October – 31 May, daily from 11.00 to 18.30 , except Mon, Tue, Wed.
300 Rub on weekdays
350 Rub on weekends and holidays
Website: www.baikalnerpa.ru (Rus)
Address: 66, 2th Zheleznodorozhnaya str. (Rus: 2ая Железнодорожная, 66)
How to get To Irkutsk Nerpinary:
From the Airport: take a bus N3, N480, N80, N90 and go to the bus stop “Sverdlovsky Rynok” (Rus: Свердловский рынок). Then walk in the direction of the shop “Ryabina” (Rus: Рябина).
From the Railway Station: take a bus N228, N372, N375 and go to the bus station “Sverdlovsky Rynok” (Rus: Свердловский рынок). Then walk through the market pavilions to the street Zheleznodorozhnaya 2.
Other Irkutsk attractions:
The Block 130 (aka Irkutsk Sloboda) is the historical zone with many old wooden buildings and houses constructed in the XVII century.
The open-air museum Taltsy is located 20 kilometers away from Listvyanka. The exposition features wooden buildings brought from all over Siberia.
The Circum-Baikal Railway is truly the main Baikal man-made landmark. This unique achievement in architecture and engineering is a section of the Trans-Siberian Railway and one of the most beautiful places of Lake Baikal.
Irkutsk Art Museum named after V.P.Sukachov is the oldest Russian museum after the Hermitage Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery with richest collection beyond the Urals.
With Byzantine style decorations, the Irkutsk’s Kazan Church looks like a fairy tower. It is known for the Irkutsk’s largest church bell.
The Epiphany Cathedral was listed among the landmarks of federal significance in 1960. The Cathedral’s decor is incredible, bizarre, and unique.
The Holy Cross Church is one of the oldest Irkutsk’s Orthodox temples, a distinctive landmark of Siberian Baroque. The church is famous for its unique exterior design.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is one of the most beautiful buildings located in the historical part of Irkutsk.
Listvyanka is the best place to get to know the unique nature of the Baikal. This settlement is a starting point for many Baikal routes including the Circum-Baikal Railway.
Bolshiye Koty village is located close to Irkutsk and Listvyanka Settlement, yet far enough to preserve the beauty of a landscape. One of the section of the Great Baikal Trail passes through the village.