Russian and American scientists count Chukotka polar bears
© RIA Novosti. Valeriy Melnikov

Russian and American scientists count Chukotka polar bears

Researchers from Russia and the United States have assessed the population of Chukotka-Alaska polar bears under Arctic Wanderer, a joint environmental project, RIA Novosti has reported.

According to the Marine Mammals Council (MMC), Russian and US scientists monitored the Chukotka-Alaska sea-ice populations of seals and polar bears from aboard aircraft from April through May 2016.

"The An-26 Arktika airborne laboratory has made four monitoring flights from Pevek over the Russian part of the Chukchi Sea and the eastern area of the East Siberian Sea. The scientists surveyed routes with a total length of 7,200 kilometers, using equipment and conducting visual observations of bearded and ringed seals and polar bears. They have collected a wealth of material this time, comprising several hundred reports about the habitat of polar bears," the MMC said in a press release.

The flights were made in good weather and brought back a great deal of data that will be used to assess the populations of seals and polar bears on sea ice.

"The second part of the aerial research will be conducted in the Chukchi Sea from May 10 to 24, mostly to locate and identify ringed seals. The ice shelters of ringed and other seals will start melting by then, and the animals will be more visible on ice," the press release reads.

The Arctic Wanderer project is being implemented by the Russian Marine Mammals Council, the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Russia), Russian Arctic National Park, Wrangel Island Nature Reserve, and the Joint Directorate of Taimyr Nature Reserves.

The project was launched under the fifth Russia-US agreement on cooperation in environmental protection and natural resources and the plan for the study and governmental monitoring of biological water resources in 2016.