When we think about the Arctic, the first image to come to mind is probably icebergs and the second must surely be the Polar Bear, referred to in Russian as Õîçÿèí Àðêòèêè - the “Landlord” of the Arctic. Now, whilst we all sigh and wish we could give them an enormous hug and shower them with kisses, we know that this would, in reality, be a very very bad idea. In our heart of hearts we know that waking up on an island teeming with Polar bears roaming freely around us would probably be a very bad place to be in.
Meet then, Anatoly Kochnev, one of Russia’s most distinguished Arctic scientists, who lived on an island for 10 years with thousands of Polar Bears.
Anatoly Kochnev is a legend and one of the world’s greatest experts on the Polar Bear. A walrus and bear biologist, Anatoly Kochnev is a senior member of Russia's Pacific Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography. We are extremely honoured that he is supporting Ensemble XXI’s Polar Voices and has given us photographs that he himself has taken of Polar Bears in close proximity on Wrangel Island in Russia’s Chukotka region.
Wrangel Island is located to the north of Chukotka. With Herald Island it now makes up one of the world’s most important National Parks.
Herald Island was discovered and landed on by the Irish explorer Henry Kellet in
1849. He also discovered Wrangel Island, but due to the thick ice he was unable to approach it. He named Herald island after his ship.
Anatoly Kochnev first travelled to Wrangel Island in 1985 to make a study of Sea Mammals, in particular walruses, but it was not long before he “bumped into the Landlord” and the Polar bear became a subject of his research too. We will be publishing more about Anatoly Kochnev’s work in the Arctic, but in the meantime here are some links to articles about him in Russian as well as some articles that refer to him in English. Once again, we would like to thank Anatoly Kochnev for his great contribution to Ensemble XXI’s Polar Voices with magnificent photos he has taken of walruses, arctic foxes and of course, the “Sovereign of the Arctic”, the Polar Bear.