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Thirty bears move into derelict Soviet weather station

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By Rebekah Daunt
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Thirty bears play house in the Russian arctic
Thirty bears play house in the Russian arctic   -   Copyright  Euronews

A derelict Soviet weather station on Kolyuchin island in Russia’s Chukchi Sea has become a safe haven to a celebration of polar bears.

Amateur marine and wildlife photographer Dmitry Kokh accidentally stumbled across the predators in September 2021 while on an expedition in the tundra.

Kokh purposely travelled some 2,000 kilometres along Russia’s arctic coast to capture some footage of the bears who usually frequent the country’s northeastern borders in large numbers.

The photographer, who meticulously planned his trip for two years before departing, was on his way to Wrangel Island, a UNESCO nature reserve, in a small yacht when bad weather struck, forcing Kokh and his team to take shelter on the abandoned island.

Much to the delight of the crew, twenty bears, mostly male, were sighted moving in and around the derelict buildings while the females, protecting their cubs, kept closer to the beach.

Equipped with a drone Kokh was able to capture once-in-a-lifetime photos of the animals hanging out near the weather station.

"It was very dangerous to went [sic] in this island because there were around 30 polar bears [at] the moment. I decided to use a drone. A drone with low noise propellers and so I shouldn't disturb [the] animals" the photographer said.

Scientists say climate change might have forced the marine mammals, who are listed as ‘threatened’ on the endangered species list, to make the dilapidated site, which seldom receives any human visitors, an unlikely new home.

Sea ice, which these giant marine mammals depend on for hunting, could vanish from the Arctic by the end of the century.