New threats to haul-outs of the Atlantic walruses revealed
Matveyev Island in the south-eastern part of the Barents Sea is a key place for the population of the Atlantic walruses. During the summer-autumn period pinnipeds form one of the largest haul-outs here, up to two thousand species. At the same time, this territory is the most remote point of the Nenetsky state nature reserve and is practically inaccessible to the inspectors.
Thanks to the support of WWF Russia and TM "4 Seasons" this year experts have organized a monitoring post on the island and started monitoring and protecting haul-outs.
"The post makes possible constant long-term observations of the coastal haul-outs of the Atlantic walruses for the first time in the region, this work was never held before on any island in the Barents Sea," says Ivan Mizin, project coordinator of WWF Russia Barents Office. - This is especially valuable in the context of the ongoing development of the Arctic. The islands of the Nenetsky reserve are in the active shipping area”.
Experts` fears were confirmed: this summer cases of vessel calls to the water area of Matveyev island without any permits were repeatedly recorded, when captains and ship-owners do not consider it necessary to comply with the nature protection regime of the state reserve. For example, the tugboat "Superman" of the company "Alliance" from St. Petersburg was spotted on August 17 at an anchorage site just 200 meters from the shore. Also cases when ships land tourist, educational and scientific groups without appropriate permits on the island were recorded. In the last two years, research vessels "Kartesh", "Professor Molchanov", "Professor Vladimir Kuznetsov" have been observed in this.
Water area contamination and direct disturbance of the animals can lead to the fact that the walruses will leave the rookery and lose one of the key habitats. The administration of Nenetsky reserve plans to intensify the investigation of these cases and bring to justice the guilty people and organizations.