Ilya Mordvintsev: Numerous polar bears on land during ice-free season this year

Ilya Mordvintsev: Numerous polar bears on land during ice-free season this year

10 November 2023

Ilya Mordvintsev, Ph.D. in Biology, leading research fellow at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about the preliminary results of this year and the plans for the next.


In September, researchers conducted aerial monitoring aboard a Mi-8MTV helicopter. Experts assessed the number of sightings of polar bears, as well as their distribution and condition during the ice-free period on Bely Island and on the coast of the Yamal Peninsula.


“Ten single animals were detected. On the island, an adult male polar bear was captured; we took biological samples and gathered morphometric data,” Mordvintsev said.


From July to August, participants in the Arctic Floating University 2023 expedition organised by the Northern (Arctic) Federal University conducted monitoring of polar bears and their prey from aboard a helicopter and the Mikhail Somov research and expedition vessel.


From 4 July to 16 August, sightings of 11 polar bears were recorded at the Franz Josef Land islands, Vaigach Island, Uyedineniya Island and the shore of the Yenisey Gulf.


“Our employees conducted a 24/7 monitoring to record not only polar bears, but all marine mammals that were seen during the Mikhail Somov voyage. In addition, they held lectures and seminars for the students from the Arctic Floating University,” the researcher said.


In September, a comprehensive joint expedition by the Russian Geographical Society and the Defence Ministry took place with support of Russian Arctic National Park. Experts conducted field monitoring to assess the frequency of sightings of polar bears and their condition on Alexandra Land Island of the Franz Josef Land Archipelago.


This year’s results show a high number of animals on land during the summer ice-free period and that they are in good condition in the areas where we worked,” Ilya Mordvintsev emphasised.


“For various reasons, we could not conduct a very important expedition to the Medvezhyi Islands Archipelago in the East Siberian Sea, so 2024 plans call for continuing polar bear research on this archipelago and the coast of Yakutia’s Nizhnekolymsky District, which we began in 2022,” the researcher said.