Rich Cookson’s next blog from Sakhalin: “The Russian frigate Nadezhda, packed with acoustic monitoring equipment, has arrived off Piltun. After a five-day journey from Vladivostok on the 108m-long, three-mast ship, the marine mammal experts and acousticians on board have started their work.

The ship has been chartered by IFAW – the International Fund for Animal Welfare – who are monitoring the impact of oil and gas activity on the local endangered whales. Nadezhda has brought Grisha Tsidulko, IFAW Russia’s co-ordinator and head of the expedition to Sakhalin Island, to Piltun.

“Sakhalin Energy has promised that the construction noise levels won’t exceed 120db in the whale feeding ground,” he says. “My hope is that they will keep to that agreement.” Over the coming weeks, Nadezhda’s acousticians will keep the noise levels under close observation.

“We have never intended to stop this project – we understand the importance of energy to the world,” he says. “But we have to ensure that the environment is not destroyed. The oil reserves will only last here for 40 years – we want to ensure that these western gray whales will still be around in hundreds of years’ time.”

Read Rich’s last blog tomorrow.