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Polar Bears Have Taken Over An Abandoned Russian Island

Surprising new inhabitants have taken over an abandoned island between Russia and Alaska....
Credit: Dmitry Kokh

Surprising new inhabitants have taken over an abandoned island between Russia and Alaska.

The island looks abandoned. House windows smashed, industrial waste lying around, misty weather. It looks like a scene from a horror movie. But to the island’s new inhabitants, it’s home.

In September 2021, Russian photographer, Dmitry Kokh, jumped on a yacht and sailed across the Chukchi Sea in order to reach Wrangel Island. The island is notorious for its bear population but when they stopped off at different island, Kolyuchin Island, there was a surprise waiting for Kokh – polar bears. A bunch of polar bears.

Instead of fearing for his life like a normal person, Kokh set out to take pictures of the animals.

Credit: Dmitry Kokh

Kokh said of his discovery,

“Nature [is] always sending you something when you least expect it. When we passed through the Kolyuchin Island near the Northern Coast of Chukotka, we saw some movements in windows of the abandoned windows there and when we got close – those were bears!”

The island was abandoned in the 1990s and the buildings were set up in the 1930s so it looks like a proper ghost town, but with bears.

This has been the first time any polar bears have been sighted on the island but no one really knows for how long they have been there.

Kokh’s pictures of the site earned him a National Geographic award for “Best Image of Wildlife in an Anthropogenic Environment” in a 2021 Russian photography contest.

Credit: Dmitry Kokh

While it may seem dreary, the bears don’t seem to mind their new home at all. But that doesn’t mean that everything is rosy. Kokh has voiced concern and disappointment on social media over the state of the coastline there.

“There’re around 12 millions abandoned fuel barrels scattered along the coast. In Soviet time, they brought the barrels and after the fuel was used, they dropped barrels all over the place. Plus abandoned villages, construction trash and so on. And it’s way too expensive to clean everything now.”

For other weird locations, check out this Italian village that has emerged from the water!


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