The Russian Village Buried in Sand

Saturday September 17, 2016 Written by Genevieve

Russian sand village

Once a thriving fishing town, Shoyna, sitting on the edge of the Arctic Circle, is now a dwindling cluster of battered houses with one very particular, very freaky problem: sand.

We’re not talking a bit of grit in your socks. Every night, the people of Shoyna go to bed knowing they’ll probably wake up entombed in their own houses. The enormous sand dunes that encompass the town, along the coast of the White Sea, are always shifting in the constant wind, burying everything in reach.

Russian sand village

It wasn’t always this way. The ecological moral of this story is striking – in its glory days, Shoyna went hell-for-leather hauling fish from the sea without thought of restricting just how much they should take. The rise of the dunes is linked with the depletion of the fish, and though there are plenty of superstitious types who’ll tell you Shoyna is cursed, the science is enough to help researchers understand what really went wrong.

And yet, the 300-odd people of Shoyna seem pretty chill about a life that would give most people a nervous breakdown. With a village bulldozer at the ready, the locals have a kind of pride in their unique existence. Life in Shoyna might be tough, but there is a purity and a dignity to the town’s off-the-grid autonomy; a kind of calm in the eye of the sand storm.  

Russian sand village

Russian sand village

Russian sand village

Russian sand village

You can see more photos over at Moya Planeta.

Photos: Sergey MaximishinDimitry LeltschukAlexei Golubtzov.