Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

Sieidi, legends and a lake of spirits

A new nature park will appear in the Kola North—it will be the Seidyavr Nature Reserve

24 november 2022

Forty years ago, on 24 November 1982, the Seydozersky State Complex Reserve was created. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was abandoned and reorganised on 31 March 2003. The boundaries of the reserve remained the same, but its protection was strengthened, and a staff of gamekeepers was organised. Its present name is Seidyavr.

The Seidyavr Nature Reserve is situated almost in the centre of the eastern part of the Lovozero tundras, where a lot of rare species of plants and animals, listed in the Red Book of Russia, can be found.

But in a deep hollow, surrounded by low mountains, the main treasure of the reserve, Lake Seydozero, is hidden. The Kola Peninsula is a land of lakes, there are many thousands of them. Most of them are nameless, only some of them have their own time, and Seydozero is on the list. It is about 8 km long and varies in width from 1.5 to 2 km. However, it's not the size or even beauty that makes Seydozero impressive, though it is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the entire peninsula.

For biologists, Seydozero is remarkable because crystal clear water, which you can simply scoop up with your hand and drink, is home to one of the rarest species of organisms, infusoria-ophrydium, which is not found anywhere else in the Kola North.

Geologists are attracted to Lake Seydozero because of its unique minerals—the depths of nearby mountains contain rare or even endemic minerals: vernadite, neptunite, zirconosilicates and many others.

Fishermen adore Seydozero for its unbelievable catches: there are three species of whitefish alone in its waters and all spawn at different times of the year. The lifetime of a Seydozero whitefish can reach 15 years and they weigh 2–3 kg. There are also trout, grayling, salmon and other fish delicacies. At that all of them can be tasted—amateur fishing is not forbidden in Seydozero. There is no threat that the lake will be exhausted: its fish capacity is 10 times more than that of other local reservoirs.

Nevertheless, the Sami, the indigenous people of the area, used to value Seydozero not only for its natural riches. They called it Seidyavr ('the sacred lake') and not everyone was allowed to approach its shores.

There are countless legends connected with the sacred lake. The Sami worshipped Seidyavr so much that in winter they dared not pierce its ice cover to avoid bringing trouble upon themselves.

The main guardian of the lake is the old man Kuiva. According to one legend, he was a formidable leader of hostile tribes who in ancient times attacked, robbed and killed the Sami. People begged for help and the gods helped to defeat the villain: flashes of lightning flew out of Seydozero waters and incinerated Kuiva. The burnt body of the giant left only a huge footprint on a rock near the lake.

The 74-metre-high silhouette on the north-western shore looks so impressive that it is hard to believe that only water, moss and lichens have created it. The Kuiva seid was one of the most worshipped by the Sami. Usually, sieidi are called megalithic artefacts—constructions made of huge boulders standing on three small stones on 'stone legs.' But the Kuiva seid is a rare exception.

Seidyavr is also different from the majority of Russian nature reserves. It was created to protect not only natural wealth but also the original culture of the Sami. This is why it is allowed to fish, herd reindeer, hold traditional rituals and collect berries and mushrooms on the protected territories.

Now the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is planning to change the status of the Seidyavr Nature Reserve into a nature park by extending the boundaries of the protected area. The new status will remove limitations for the development of tourism and enable proper regulation of tourist flow.

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