Polar Bears in abandoned weather station on Kolyuchin Island

In September '21, I went on a trip to Chukotka and Wrangel Island. One day, we took shelter on Kolyuchin Island - known for the polar weather station that operated in Soviet times. Though the station was closed in 1992, the abandoned village still stands on the island. Suddenly, we noticed movement in the windows of the houses. Someone took out binoculars, and we saw the heads of polar bears!

In September '21, we went on a long-awaited trip to Chukotka and Wrangel Island. We sailed along the coast and covered more than 1200 miles of untouched landscapes, villages lost in time, spots with various fauna, and seas full of life. One day, bad weather was expected, so our captain approached a small island, Kolyuchin, to take shelter from the storm. Kolyuchin is known for the polar weather station that operated in Soviet times. Though the station was closed in 1992, the abandoned village still stands on the island. The stormy wind, rain, and neglected buildings on the rocky shores made everything look surreal. Suddenly, we noticed movement in the windows of the houses. Someone took out some binoculars, and we saw the heads of polar bears! The fog, a place long deserted by people and polar bears — it was the perfect setting.

«Picture of the North» Mavic 2 pro, 1/160 at f/2.8, ISO 640

 

 

Bears are very curious by nature, so they walk around the houses and check every door, window, nook, and cranny. There were about 20 animals at the same time, primarily males. The females kept to the side with their cubs, closer to the island's shores.  They may look calm and sweet in these photos, but one must not forget that they are incredibly powerful animals! They probably thought the drone was some bird, they did not let it out of their sight. Bears never miss a chance to catch a meal, they were probably ready to strike at any moment, even when seemingly chilling out on the grass!

I shot with a drone equipped with low-noise propellers, so I did not disturb them. I was cautious and very patient and let the bears slowly get used to the drone so that eventually, I could get closer and closer. They were curious and thus probably intrigued by this "weird-looking bird," which was amazing for me as they looked right into the camera.

«Summer Season» Polar bear curiously peeks out of a window of the abandoned Soviet weather station on Kolyuchin Island, Northern Chukotka. Mavic 2 pro, 1/320 at f/3.2, ISO 100

These images of the polar bears on Kolyuchin island are timely; they are like snapshots of a premonition reflecting what could be in our not-so-distant future. The world as we know it is very fragile, and the current state of the world - from political conflicts and nuclear tension to the climate crisis - means that the end could very well be nigh. These things are real, and if they continue as they are, the outcome will be catastrophic. 

«Bears and Barrels» There are around 12 million abandoned fuel barrels scattered along the coast in the Russian Arctic. They were used and discarded in the Soviet Union. Today, along with abandoned villages and construction trash, it would require significant effort and financial support to clean up the accumulated waste.            Mavic 2 pro, 1/160 at f/2.8, ISO 100

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