Little is known about the polar bears, walrus and whales of Russia’s Kara Sea. As sea ice melts and industry heats up in Russia’s Arctic, there’s a small window of opportunity to plan for conservation in the Kara Sea. This spring, WWF sponsored an expedition to this remote Arctic sea for a preliminary survey of the region’s wildlife.
Dmitry Ryabov of WWF-Russia reports:
Meet the team
The expedition members are WWF polar bear experts, researchers from the Association of Maritime Heritage, Russian Arctic National Park, Moscow State University, and the author of this story – the Press Secretary for WWF’s Murmansk office, Dmitri Ryabov (far left).
One reason the area is poorly researched is logistical. Simply getting to the Kara Sea is a challenge. The expedition members travelled first to Krasnoyarsk, then on to Khatanga, near Russia’s Arctic coast.
Khatanga at -15C
In the local language of Evenki, “Katanga” means “many waters”. Apparently, frozen water. Frosts can occur all year round, and -50C is not uncommon in the winter. In this village of 2,500 people, skis and snowmobiles are the easiest ways to get around.
The sun will stay above the horizon for nearly 3 months starting in May. Even now, the sun doesn’t set until nearly 23:00. But we have a long day tomorrow, so it’s time to head to sleep at the best (and only) hotel in the village.
Tomorrow, we head out to the Kara Sea.