WWF sheds light on little-known Kara Sea polar bears
An expedition in late April focused on the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, where little is known about marine mammals.
The team surveyed the area by helicopter, noting the numbers and location of polar bears and other animals, like walruses, belugas, reindeer and muskoxen.
"The expedition region is really very difficult to access. The only way to get here this time of year is by helicopter. Aerial surveys are quite expensive and complex, and accordingly, little work has been done in the Kara Sea", said project coordinator Mikhail Stishov, of WWF-Russia.
"That makes the data we collected all the more valuable."
In addition, the group visited two remote research stations to share information about preventing deadly conflict with polar bears.
Over the next few months, the data will be analyzed by staff from Russian Arctic National Park, WWF's scientific partners for the expedition. The information gathered is just the first step towards a complete picture of the population's health.
The results will inform proposals to expand the system of protected areas in the region. WWF hopes to expand the survey work to surrounding areas, including the eastern coast of Taimyr and Novaya Zemlya.