Wildlife and environment
Chukotka expedition studies polar bear population
© RIA Novosti. Valery Melnikov

Chukotka expedition studies polar bear population

Scientists collected data on the status of the Chukotka-Alaska polar bear population in the Russian part of their range in the course of the Chukotka Summer 2015 research expedition, Russian oil company Rosneft, the expedition's organizer, said in a report posted on its website. Studies were carried out along the mainland coast of the East Siberian and Chukotka seas from the estuary of the Rauchua River to Cape Vankarem, as well as on Ayon, Wrangel and Herald islands over one month.

The expedition was organized by Rosneft with the participation of specialists from the Arctic Research Center, the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and the Marine Mammal Council.

During the expedition, researchers counted polar bears from the air and conducted remote biopsy skin sampling and non-invasive biological sampling. In addition, polar bears were tagged with satellite transmitters to track their movements. Scientists used advanced transmitters that can be attached to polar bears of any gender or age. Researchers expect that their use will make it possible to significantly increase the number of tagged animals and thus expand the scope of study.

The biological samples will be used as material for immunological, microbiological and molecular-genetic studies that will allow scientists to identify the levels and composition of anthropogenic substances in the system, assess the health of different age and sex groups in various habitats, and determine the degree of kinship between animals.

Researchers installed stand-alone photo recorders on the territory of the polar bear's "maternity home" — Wrangle and Herald islands.

The Chukotka Summer 2015 expedition followed up on the study of the polar bear population carried out during the Kara Summer 2014 and Kara Winter 2015 expeditions, Rosneft said. Analysis of this data will significantly expand the knowledge about the status of the species in the Russian Arctic shelf.