Master of the Arctic: Polar bear aerial survey expedition starts in Yakutia
© Press service of the Master of the Arctic project

Master of the Arctic: Polar bear aerial survey expedition starts in Yakutia

The Master of the Arctic environmental project, an aerial survey of the polar bear population in the Russian Arctic, is underway in Yakutia.

This year, the project organizers decided to divide the expedition into two stages. The first stage will start at the Tiksi airport, from which a team of researchers will make daily flights in an L-410 plane. The aircraft will fly along 10 routes, each longer than 1,000 kilometers.

Expedition members will spend six-hour shifts looking for Arctic inhabitants and recording all sightings using special equipment installed in the plane.

“I dream of seeing and counting not only bears, but also walruses, white whales and maybe even narwhales, as well as flying over the Great Siberian Ice Hole and the New Siberian Islands,” said Dmitry Glazov, head of the first-stage research team, before the start of the expedition.

The researchers will explore understudied areas of the Laptev and East Siberian seas.

The second stage will begin on June 10 from the Arkhangelsk sea port. The scientists will reach the Franz Josef Land archipelago aboard the Mikhail Somov ship, and find bears from a helicopter, put tracking collars on them and take biological samples.

“I am so inspired by this marine mammal aerial survey and feel its importance that I am dreaming of doing everything possible to revive this field of scientific research. It is especially important here to synchronize the activities of all the participants: aviation, research, business, the most up-to-date photo and video technology, government entities and, of course, public support. I do understand that it is a long way ahead. But it only adds to our enthusiasm,” noted Anna Subbotina, deputy head of the project.

Last year, the expedition members flew over 10,000 kilometers along mapped-out sea and coastal routes: over the northern coast of the Yamal Peninsula and the eastern coast of the Gyda Peninsula; the islands of Novaya Zemlya, Bely, Vaigach, Doldy, Matveyev, Shokalsky, Bolshoi and Maly Zelenets; the Pechora Sea; and the Gulf of Ob, Baydaratskaya Bay and Khaypudyr Bay. The research was initiated by the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources and the Clean Seas International Environmental Foundation.