Traveling to Franz Josef Land
• Traveling to Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land - is an archipelago of islands in the Barents Sea in the far north of Russia. Total archipelago consists of 192 islands. I happened to visit this place during the expedition Sevren Pole aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker "50 Years of Victory".
Although the middle of summer, the next day after our departure from the port of Murmansk, we have begun to fall floe.
Very soon gave way to separate the floes whole ice fields. We began to appear small icebergs.
In this area, we met the first polar bears. This is not surprising. This combination of ice, water and land - ideal habitat for this polar predator.
The main production of a polar bear this seal. He tracks down her mainly by smell. Very often a seal hiding in gullies in the ice. Displayed on the surface all too often it is not in danger. Polar bear tracked down the seal with full force forepaws breaks the ice and then attempts to pull her out. This teddy bear is clearly too late. Someone more successful has already dealt with the seal.
Trusting your nose, polar bears can climb far north from the nearest land. They have no natural enemies. They are not social animals and prefer to live alone. The only exception - a mother with small cubs. Mother not only feeds the cub beginning of his life, but also protects against adult males. From time to time they attack the cubs.
Although they are able to cope with tens of kilometers of the icy wilderness, still a favorite habitat for them is the combination of land, ice fields and open water. Bears perfectly swim in the water, but once again prefer there not to meddle. Small cracks, they can easily jump into the ice.
After a successful hunt the bear is able to eat for weeks. Therefore, they are saturated in store. Just dined bear can be easily recognized by a huge belly.
Due to the fact that the natural enemies they have, bears a rather curious. Of course, most of them prefer to stay away from the nuclear-powered icebreaker. Still, the difference in size is colossal. But some looked fit directly to the board and try to see what is happening on the deck.
particularly pleased with all the bear with very little bear. They circled around at least an hour. This was unusual because most often, at the slightest danger the female tries to steal the baby away.
Here, they came to the ship and circling for a long time on the ice floes.
We have a great interest watched their relationship.
Trying to better see what is happening on the board, even a bear climbed an iceberg.
We were almost at her eye level. It was probably the most interesting acquaintance with bears for the whole time of the expedition.
In addition to polar bears, walruses, we still come across. They are less shy than the seal. Although adult bear sometimes able to handle land and walrus. In the water, they feel quite secure. Often their rookeries are located directly on the large ice floes.
However, at the approach of a large ship usually prefer to dive into the water. There they were much more comfortable and the speed with which they sail, much more than a clumsy movement on land.
The large males are all covered with scars from fights with their neighbors. Every great walrus seeks to protect his harem and territory from pesky competitors. Therefore, they have to be carried out in most of the battles of life.
After two days of traveling, we came to the first islands of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. The existence of land to the east of Spitsbergen predicted by many scientists. This was at one time said still Lomonosov. One of the most fundamental research on this issue was made by Peter Kropotkin. He even calculated the coordinates of the islands. Unfortunately, funds for the expedition did not find. Therefore, the discovery of the islands was made completely random. The Austro-Hungarian expedition Weyprecht Karl and Julius Payer was trying to find the North-East Passage, but was iced up near the New Earth. Gradually drift brought them sailing steam schooner to the shores of the archipelago. It happened on August 30 at 1873. Therefore, the newly discovered land was named in honor of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I.
expedition leader of our trip was the famous Canadian traveler Lorrie Dexter. Based on the ice conditions around the island, it was decided to go ashore by helicopter. Inflatable boats "Zodiac" could not get close enough to the landing. We had to go ashore at Cape Flora Yuri Kuchiev island. It is interesting that the island is one of the youngest in the archipelago. It was opened in 2008 during the expedition of the icebreaker "Yamal". Prior to this, between the islands it was the isthmus and it was part of the Northbrook Island. But the nuclear-powered team found that the isthmus was washed away with water. Thus, on the map, a new island. He was named in honor of the legendary captain of the icebreaker "Arktika". It was under his command for the first time in human history the surface vessel reached the top of the worlds - the North Pole.
Aboard the icebreaker was a MI-8 helicopter with a crew. Typically, these big helicopters are used for real work in the sea. For ice enough intelligence more economical and smaller in size MI-2. However, in our case it is supposed landing of personnel and equipment delivery, so the choice fell on this type of helicopter.
These tasks only by experienced crews. Not only must sit and take off from a small area on the ship, but also wisely choose a place to land and make sure that there is no danger to the surrounding people. At the time of landing or ice the main problem was the polar bears. First of all it was necessary to make sure that they are not around.
Next to the landing place of towering 300-meter mountainside. It nest thousands of birds. This is mainly guillemots and white seagulls. Black dots around the helicopter - it's just the birds in the air.
The first people landed ashore, ensure the safety of the rest of the group. Hunting of polar bears is prohibited by law. And although they are armed, but the bullets used to scare away the beast. To kill no one shoots. To eliminate ricochet a steel core. Thus, it is possible to shoot the stones and to drive away the bear. In addition, there are stun grenades.
our landing place - cape "Flora." At this point repeatedly landed Arctic expeditions. He wintered here for the first time the British yacht crew of "Air" led by Benjamin Lee Smith. His ship was jammed in the ice not far from this place. The researchers were able to build a shack from scrap materials and to spend the winter on the island. In the spring, they are four sloops reached the New Earth, where they picked up the British ship, sent to search.
The British polar explorer and geographer Frederick Jackson founded a fixed base during the expedition to Franz Josef Land study. June 17, 1896 it came to this database Norwegian explorers Nansen and Hjalmar Fritor Johansen after his failed attempt to reach the North Pole.
have stayed in the place of Walter Wellman expedition Americans on board the "Fridtjof" and Arbutstsi Duke on "Stella Polare".
Many polar expeditions have used reserves of brown coal, which has a deposit on the island. Interestingly, the Sedov during the winter in the neighboring islands on a schooner "St. Thomas the martyr," did not know anything about it. They were desperate for fuel and dismantled for construction of the wooden base.
This is only a small part of the history of Arctic exploration in the region. Officially the archipelago was declared Russian territory during the expedition Ishaq Ibrahimovic Islyamova searching Sedova in 1914. It was then the Russian flag was raised here.
At least one is struck by the history in this place the beauty of northern nature. Summers are short, but very bright. Everywhere underfoot colorful moss, covered with flowers. One only has to step on the carpet and immediately sank into the water on the knee.
Constantly heard did not cease bird uproar. The surrounding rock was chosen by thousands of murres and gulls.
They nest literally everywhere these basaltic rocks. Only glaciers are free of bird populations.
Come here and polar bears. The islands also found fox, walrus, ringed seal, bearded seal, harp seal, narwhal and beluga. Just south of the sea can be seen killer whales. But this visit we did not get to see any animals. Only the old bones.
Back we flew one of the last helicopter. I wanted as long as possible to take a walk around the island and enjoy the local beauty. And I must say that we succeeded fully.
Almost immediately after take-off, we felt a strong vibration. The helicopter initially abruptly lost altitude, and then set on the turn left at the next headland. I sat in the tail and heard how much creaking tail boom.
After a while we sat on the ground, and it became clear that we are on the rise blade hit one of the many guillemots. Because of this, the ending of the propeller deformed.
It was decided to carry all rescue bots on the other side of the bay. There has been ice-free coastline. After the evacuation of people from the island, the helicopter crew alone try to fly on board the icebreaker.
In this way, we had the "great" opportunity plenty to admire the beauty of the island during this landing. However, the transition was not so very long. Most of the way came the hill so the walk was relatively easy.
Rescue boat slowly approaches the shore, depth soundings to not inadvertently damage the screw.
And then a few flights we and equipment transported by ship.
to sleep, we did not manage that night Although the eventful day. At this time of year the sun does not go away over the horizon, so the light continuously. Passing close to other islands of the archipelago, we are constantly met polar bears. Well then you might miss the opportunity to get acquainted closer with the wildlife of the Arctic?
a second time near the islands Earth Fratsa Joseph, we visited on the way back, returning from the North Pole.
First of all, we come to the basalt rock Roubini. It is named after the famous Italian tenor and interesting for its huge bird colonies.
Due to the volcanic origin of the rocks around the coast is very steep. Therefore, even such a huge ship like our atomic icebreaker is able to approach it almost came. This is a very impressive sight. In order to direct such a delicate operation on the nose is one of the men with a portable radio. He constantly tells the distance to the rocks and the trend movement.
The basalt slopes of the island are dotted all birds. It is also interesting to observe the structure of the rock, which seems to be collected from the individual flat bars.
But the main purpose of our re-entry was a quiet bay on the island of Hooker. It was here that the first in the archipelago Soviet research station was opened in 1929.
Unfortunately, by the time of our visit at the station for several years no one lived. All the buildings in the area have been preserved and the only inhabitants were here except that the polar bears. Aboard our icebreakers were members of the first for the whole time of the expedition to the island. They were to go ashore and to evaluate the recoverability of this polar base. Before planting they are most concerned with the question of having uninvited guests from among the bears. Therefore, all the time before sending it to the shore, they carefully studied the shore and buildings with binoculars. Due to the ice to come ashore in boats not possible. Therefore helicopter landing performed again. During the trek to the Pole of the ship's mechanics were able to fix the ending and MI-8 was again ready to fly. The other passengers on the island is not planted. Visibility to this day, unfortunately, was not very good. Therefore, as soon as the little cleared up everything immediately boarded a helicopter and flew to the island.
That turned my visit to Franz Josef Land during an expedition to the North Pole.