Master of the Arctic laboratory research begins

Master of the Arctic laboratory research begins

29 July 2021

The second field stage of the Master of the Arctic project concluded in July. Now researchers have started laboratory research and are processing the biomaterials they received. Ilya Mordvintsev, a leading research associate at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences, described how the expedition went and what difficulties specialists faced.


“The expedition was somewhat new for us because this was the first time we worked from a helicopter-carrying vessel. It provided us with additional opportunities because we could get close to a region of interest, and quickly find and catch bears for specimen collection,” he noted.


Mordvintsev said the weather was the only thing that could have ruined the expedition. The team had to miss several days because of fog.


“The time we had to work on Franz Josef Land from the Mikhail Somov vessel was limited, and it was a shame to lose this time because of bad weather,” Mordvintsev said.


However, the members of the expedition still managed to use all the flying hours and study all the areas they wanted.


“We had six flights, and none of them was wasted. We caught six bears – two females and four males. All the animals were alone. There were practically no females with cubs. We came across only one female bear with this year’s litter but couldn’t devote time to her because this was during observation flights,” Mordvintsev explained.


Researchers collected biomaterial from all six bears and are now testing it for microbiology, toxins, hormones, isotopes and diseases.


During the expedition, researchers spotted 20 polar bears on the northern island of Novaya Zemlya in the area of Cape Zhelaniya and Franz Josef Land. These sightings were recorded from both the vessel and the helicopter.


“Laboratory processing will last till the end of October. We must complete the Master of the Arctic project before the end of this year. We will finish the laboratory research by November and will then process the incoming information on the movements of the tagged females,” Mordvintsev said.