Rowing to Baikal

Latah. Dec. 2023. 317p. ISBN 9781957607221. $19.95. TRAV
Adventurer, conservationist, and veteran fly-fishing guide Fong (The Coconut Crab) chronicles his 2018 scientific expedition from the headwaters of the Selenge River in Mongolia to Russia’s Lake Baikal. This was the first of its kind, and it was a little more than 932 miles. Prompted by plans for multiple dams in the watershed, the author and his international team collected data about the aquatic fauna and invertebrates of the region. At the heart of his narrative is the endangered taimen, the world’s largest salmon species (growing up to six feet in length), as the upper tributaries of the Selenge are considered sanctuaries for taimen in Mongolia. He dexterously combines factual science with lyrical nature writing, especially his descriptions of the region’s geography or fly-fishing for the often-elusive taimen. He also addresses the ecological impacts of hydropower dams on the Selenge River and fish populations.
VERDICT This overflowing travelogue may appeal to readers of National Geographic, fishing enthusiasts, and others willing to take this highly detailed journey.
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