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Observation post established on the Greater Oranskie Islands

20 august 2020
The delivery and installation of equipment for a new monitoring point took place in the southern cluster of the Russian Arctic National Park, on the Eastern Big Oransky Island of Novaya Zemlya. This is not the first time the WWF has helped the park to study rare species, including Atlantic walrus and polar bear.

The field house for scientists was brought to Novaya Zemlya by the ship "Mikhail Somov" during the annual summer navigation. The transportation and installation were supervised by the inspectors of the Russian Arctic National Park. They will use it to observe Atlantic walruses.

Setting up a field house
(с) Andrey Parshin
«This project became possible only with help of our supporters! The Arctic is the hard to reach place for observation, with difficult and unpredictable meteorological conditions, and it so expensive to get there – but it is home to many species listed in the Red Book, and this is where our efforts to protect rare animals are needed. The attention of the entire world community is now focused on the Arctic - infrastructure is developing, more and more ships pass through the Northern Sea Route every year, exploration and production of oil and gas continues. We need to understand what is happening with the population of Atlantic walruses, which were almost completely exterminated by humans just a couple of centuries ago. Thanks to the observation point, from now and every year we will be able to see what is happening to the walruses – so we can to take actions in time to protect them», – says Margarita Leskova, project coordinator of the WWF Russia Barents office.
Atlantic walruses in the Orange Islands
(с) Andrey Parshin

The observation point for walrus rookery is a self – contained house for 4 people. Inside there are conditions for cooking, rest and work. Now scientists can monitor the rookery all the time. Previously, the regularity of such kind of work depended on weather conditions – it takes more than an hour to go to the Oranskie Islands by motor boat from the main base – Zhelaniya cape. Therefore, the observations of walruses were fragmentary.

«It is very important to organize continuous long – term observation of walruses to study the dynamics of numbers, the timing of the rookery’s functioning, the influence of various factors on animals, and their relationships with polar bears. This observation post is needed to provide a satellite tagging of walruses, to study their behaviour and what they eat. All this works requires special conditions for scientists», – says Ivan Mizin, Deputy Director of the Russian Arctic National Park.

Together with the new home for scientists, automatic photo traps were brought to the Oranskie Islands. With its help, scientists will be able to spy on walruses and monitor their behavior, condition and time spent on land through the year.

For additional information please contact
Press officer of Barents ecoregional programme