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WWF-Russia requested official source data on samples collection in Kamchatka

19 october 2020
WWF-Russia, supported by the governor of Kamchatka krai, plans to invite foreign scientists who will help in a thorough analysis of the causes of the environmental crisis which took place offshore Kamchatka in September-October.

At the end of September, when the news about an unusual environmental situation in the waters near southeast Kamchatka became well-known far beyond the region, various government agencies and independent organizations collected samples of water, soil and biological materials. WWF-Russia’s experts analyzed all publicly available data and posted an interactive map showing the exact places of

  • where the samples were collected;
  • where dead marine animals were washed out onshore;
  • where known sources of possible artificial contamination are located.

“We put effort to update the map as soon as new data becomes public. However, one should understand that this is not an official source of information, but an attempt to comprehensively and openly cover the current situation. In the near future, the map will be updated with other test results, including those from independent and government organizations,” explained Alexander Shelemotov, coordinator of the information projects department of WWF-Russia, Amur branch.

WWF-Russia believes that some data could have been missed and/or not taken into account properly. That is why WWF-Russia sent letters to the Governor of the Kamchatka krai, to the Federal Fishery Agency, and the Russian Academy of Sciences requesting to provide raw, source data on the samples’ composition. In particular, experts need to analyze information on the species and quantitative composition of phytoplankton samples, toxicological data on substances and their concentration in collected samples.

“Unfortunately, public data available today does not fully prove any version of the ecological crisis off the coast of Kamchatka. We suggested involving foreign experts to analyze the situation. The Governor of Kamchatka krai supported our initiative. We are currently negotiating with scientists specializing in ocean biology,” said Sergey Korostelev, coordinator of WWF-Russia’s Sustainable Marine Fisheries Program and a member of the Scientific Council to find the causes of the environmental crisis in Kamchatka waters.

WWF-Russia's experts are not yet ready to support any of the two main versions of the ecological crisis off the coast of Kamchatka. It is important to continue research and completely exclude anthropogenic influence as the cause. If, in the end, the natural cause of the extraordinary situation is confirmed, it will certainly be interesting for Russian and foreign scientists. A thorough comprehensive analysis will help in better understanding of similar phenomena in the World Ocean, which, however, have not led to such large-scale negative impact on benthic species ever before.

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