Kolyuchin Island is now a deserted polar bear playground. Dimitrij Koh took detailed and unusual photos of the polar bears that live there, both inside and outside unoccupied buildings. Some of the bears even looked out the window when they saw the photographer walking by, he posted On Pubity’s Instagram page.
“It has long been a dream of mine to photograph polar bears.” At first, nature photography was just a hobby, but later it became an important part of my life. If someone devotes this amount of time to an activity, their goals must be ambitious. I mostly like to photograph large marine animals, both on land and underwater. Not everyone knows, but zoologists classify polar bears as marine mammals, as they spend most of their time off land, on ice floes, and their feet have webbing, as the photographer wrote on his page.
There are only a few places on the planet where polar bears are found in large numbers. One of them is Wrangel Island in Russia, a UNESCO-protected nature reserve. According to Dimitrij Koh, the place is almost completely inaccessible, which can be bad for tourists, but especially good for animals.
The photographer said in his blog, Preparations for Wrangel’s expedition continued for about two years, and they finally left for the northern part of Chukotka last August with a small icebreaker. They traveled about 2,000 kilometers along the coast, stopping in uninhabited bays where they photographed gray whales and humpback whales. They encountered many different species of birds, many brown bears, sea lions, and seals. He felt like he was in a parallel world.
Weeks passed when the weather was bad one day, so the captain approached a small island, Kolyushin Island, to find shelter from the storm. In Soviet times, Kolyushin was famous for the polar meteorological station operating there. Although the settlement closed in 1992, the abandoned village has remained on the island ever since.
– Suddenly we noticed movement in the windows of the houses. Someone took out binoculars, and then we caught a glimpse of the polar bear’s head. Fog, long-standing unoccupied buildings and polar bears – Dimitrij Koh described the situation.
Landing on the island that day was too dangerous due to the choppy weather, so he took photos with a special drone equipped with low-noise propellers. According to him, after a while the bears practically ignored the unusual buzzing.
– I later asked one of Russia’s leading polar bear experts, Anatoly Koshnev, what causes the animals’ strange behavior and why do they like to sit in buildings so much? Polar bears are very curious by nature, which is why they try to enter through any open window or door, the biologist said. In addition, these animals were often hunted in the past, so the houses are also used as a kind of protection from people, the biologist told the photographer.
It also turns out that bears rarely appear in such numbers on the island. No one knows why, but once every nine years, ice floes stay close to the coast in the summer. Therefore, in these years, the bears do not travel north with the ice, but settle in the abandoned polar station. This is also proven by the fact that when they reached Wrangel Island in the north, they encountered almost no bears.