James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

The Man At Lake Sevan


The Man At Lake Sevan

This was perhaps the friendliest man we met in the whole of Armenia. He sits all day on the steps up to Sevanavank Monastery, singing away with his little mandolin. If you give him a couple of coins, he’ll sing in your language if he knows it. He didn’t know English unfortunately, so instead amused us with what we are reliably assured was a hilariously rude Russian rhyme.

Sevanavank is said to have been founded well over one thousand years ago, and sits on a peninsula that jut out into the vast Lake Sevan. It used to be an island, but the water level declined more than 20 meters in the Soviet era due to artificial draining. This was universally a bad idea, causing many endemic species of fish to disappear. Lake Sevan is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world. Restoring it is likely to take decades, but at least this man finds plenty of cheerful things to sing about.

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