Russian Scientists Trapped By 10 Polar Bears In Arctic Outpost: Here's What Happened


At least a dozen polar bears have reportedly laid siege to an outpost that houses five Russian meteorologists on a remote isle in the Arctic.

The group of scientists is currently on an expedition on Troynoy Island about 2,800 miles away from Moscow in Russia's Kara Sea. The head of the team, meteorologist Vadim Plotnikov, sent news over the weekend that around 10 polar bears have surrounded their base.

However, Plotnikov and his team do not have any means of scaring off the animals, according to Russian news site TASS. With that, Russia is planning to send an emergency delivery to the team for protection, the report said.

What Happened?

About four to six polar bears remained on Troynoy Island during summer. Now, however, there are at least 10 adult polar bears and some cubs, said Plotnikov.

Plotnikov said a female polar bear has been sleeping under the windows of the Arctic station as of Saturday, Sept. 10. At any given time, at least four polar bears can be seen from the base, he said.

Because of the obstruction, the team's hydro-meteorological observations have been suspended. Scientists are blocked from reaching the station platform and studying other points.

"It's dangerous to go outside, and we've had to stop some of our work," said Plotnikov.

Unfortunately, the group has reportedly run out of flares to scare off the animals, and has lost at least one of their dogs to the polar bears.

Russian laws prohibit the killing of polar bears, which are considered as an endangered species, so researchers in the Arctic are often equipped with flares and rubber bullets to scare off the creatures.

It is not unusual for polar bears to approach outposts in the Arctic, but the event has intensified because of climate change, scientists say.

Melting sea ice and changing patterns in the population of polar bears' prey have triggered the "desperation" of the animals, forcing them to travel life-threatening long distances to hunt for food.

Emergency Delivery

Vassiliy Shevchenko, head of the Sevgidromet State Monitoring Network that owns the Arctic station, said a ship with provisions is on its way to the island to deliver aid, including more flare guns and dogs, to the group of scientists. The emergency delivery is expected to arrive one month from now.

Shevchenko suggests the personnel should tread carefully and with caution, adding that scientists should not leave the premises of the outpost and should only conduct accessible studies.

By the end of October or the start of November, Arctic waters will freeze and the polar bears will move out of the island to hunt for food, added Shevchenko. Until then, the polar bears' stakeout will continue.

Photo: Gary Bembridge | Flickr

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