Polar bears on the East Siberian Sea shore

Polar bears on the East Siberian Sea shore

21 August 2015

State inspectors of protected nature areas in the Nizhnekolymsky Region of the Yakutian Ministry of Natural Resources, Ruslan Sleptsov and Vyacheslav Sleptsov, spent an entire month (between 14 July and 14 August 2015) on field work on the shore of the East Siberian Sea for WWF’s Polar Bear Patrol project. They conducted on-site monitoring at the Krestovy Cape to find out when the autumn migration of polar bears begins. The patrol team used two motor boats to travel to the main camp in the Krestovaya area on the shore of the East Siberian Sea, 255 km from the nearest populated place, the village of Pokhodsk.


Between 1-14 August, the researchers recorded sightings of polar bears regularly. In most cases, the animals moved purposefully to the seashore in the eastern direction. Some 13 single polar bears of different ages, from small to large, were spotted. The majority passed by the monitoring point without stopping. Four bears rested near the cordon, including three that later went into the tundra and one that continued its route along the coast to the east. Interestingly, all the monitored animals tended to distance themselves from the humans and took no interest in any structures. The recorded bears were well-built while only one appeared to be weak.


“The early appearance of the bears on the shore may be a result of climate change,” said Fyodor Yakovlev, Chief Specialist of the Bioresources and Protected Areas Directorate of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Ministry of Natural Resources. “According to our data, in the early summer, the weather on the East Siberian Sea shore remained very cold, like in the winter. The snow melted late and the ice cover lasted longer on the sea. When it became warmer, the ice drifted fast to the north. Some polar bears did not react quickly enough and remained on the land. Now they are moving along the shore searching for food.”


(Photo © Ruslan Sleptsov)