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Yamal-Arctic 2019 Expedition Completes Polar Bear Survey

13 September 2019

Supported by Rosneft Oil Company, the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Arctic Exploration Centre have conducted a scientific survey of polar bears on Bely Island and Vilkitsky Island, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. The survey activities were held within the Yamal-Arctic 2019 comprehensive scientific expedition.

The survey is aimed to give a seasonal assessment of the polar bear population spread on the islands during the ice-free period and to study the population’s state in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. Flying over the territory by a helicopter, the scientists encountered three animals on Bely Island and four animals on Vilkitsky Island. The specialists determined the linear measurements, age, and weight of them. In addition, the zoologists took biological samples from the polar bears. The results of immunologic, microbiologic, and molecular-genetic research of all the biological probes taken allow evaluating of grade and contents of anthropogenic substances in the polar bear organism, assessing the health state of the studied individuals. These studies are part of the Company’s comprehensive polar bear support and protection programme.

The scientists marked the animals with special collars fitted featuring satellite transmitters to track their routes and activities. The use of Russian satellite telemetry allows almost real-time information to be obtained on the speed of movement, distance travelled, as well as on which habitats the polar bear prefers and how it reacts to environmental changes. Moreover, it is intended to hold a comparative study of the data on the movements of two female polar bears wearing satellite collars obtained on Vilkitsky Island and Shokalsky Island in 2018.

Note for Editors:

Rosneft pays special attention to the conservation and research of the polar bear. During its complex Arctic expeditions, Rosneft is carrying out research of polar bears, using advanced technology.

Since 2013, polar bears of all Russian zoos have been under the treatment of the Company. By now, Rosneft provides management (nutritional wellbeing, veterinary attendance, and the environment fulfilment) of 35 polar bears in 16 zoos: 18 grown-up females, 13 grown-up males, and four cubs under the age of two. Also, Rosneft has been implementing an integrated programme on support and protection of polar bears that include rescuing and recovery management of young orphaned bears.

According to the specialists’ research, there are from 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears across the globe nowadays. Polar bears inhabit all Arctic Basin including its shores and islands. There are no geographical boundaries for the species. The main factors determining its spreading are the marine ice, the existence of places suitable for birth lair making, and the food accessibility.

The following are some facts about the polar bear:

  1. The largest bear. Being the largest predator onshore, the polar bear can weight about 700 kilogram and reach 3 metres lengthwise.
  2. Thermal isolation. The polar bear’s fur is not actually white but transparent; the hair is hollow and filled with air that helps the animals to save heat better.
  3. New-born cubs about the size of a guinea pig. They come out of their lair 4-5 months following birth. The cubs will stay with their mother for about two years, during which they will learn the skills required for survival in the Arctic.

September 13, 2019