Svalbard expedition sees walruses

This video from Svalbard in the Arctic says about itself:

Walrus at Kapp Lee, Edgeøya 22 August 2008.

Translated from the blog of Dutch NOS TV about the big Dutch Arctic expedition. The expedition, after arrival in Svalbard and departure of the expedition ship from the Svalbard capital Longyearbyen, has meanwhile arrived on Edgeøya island in the Svalbard archipelago. Interview on 22 August 2015 with Ko de Korte and other participants who had been on that island forty years ago as well:

But has this place changed much in forty years? “No,” said De Korte. “Only those walruses were not there. We saw nothing but reindeer and polar bears, and sometimes an Arctic fox.” Fifty meters away thirty massive walruses lie in the sunshine, deliciously lazy. With the same view which the explorers of then still know so well.

This 8 February 2015 Dutch video shows an interview with Ko de Korte. He says he did Arctic tern research in 1968 on Edgeøya island, and wants to do that again now.

This 2008 video is about Kap Lee, Edgeøya, Svalbard, where the expedition is now.

This Dutch video is about expedition participant Tom van Hoof, doing already some research on Svalbard on 18 August 2015, one day before the official start of the expedition. Tom’s research is about the consequences of attempts to find oil off Edgeøya in the 1970s.

This 16 August 2015 video is about participant Tom van Hoof in the Netherlands, checking his luggage before going to Svalbard.

In this video, Tom van Hoof introduces himself.

This 14 August 2015 video about the expedition is from before the start.

Arctic fox on Svalbard

This 18 August 2015 video shows an Arctic fox, looking for food at a camping ground west of Longyearbyen village, on the Svalbard archipelago in Arctic Norway.

The video says about itself (translated):

[Dutch daily] Dagblad van het Noorden goes along on the biggest Dutch polar expedition ever. Expedition ship the Ortelius departs August 19 from Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. Reporter Maaike Borst will step aboard the Ortelius to follow the scientists in their search for human influence in the desolate wilderness.

Ms Borst describes her arrival in Svalbard here. And her meeting with the Arctic fox here.

See also here. And here.

This video is about an earlier, 2014, Svalbard expedition on the ship Ortelius (walruses included).

Svalbard polar bears, winter 1968-1969

In the 1968-1969 winter, four Dutch people spent the winter on Edgeøya island in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, doing research on polar bears.

Paul van de Bosch and Hans Zoet then made this film, shown on Dutch TV in 1969.

This month, August 2015, is the start of again a, much bigger, Dutch expedition to Edgeøya, to study biodiversity there.

See also here.

As climate change accelerates polar bears may have to adapt their diet and replace seals with caribou and snow geese as an important food source, new research shows: here.

Biggest Dutch Arctic expedition ever

This 18 May 2015 Dutch video, with English subtitles, is about the biggest Dutch Arctic expedition ever, which will go to Edgeøya island in Svalbard in August this year.

Expedition leader Dr Maarten Loonen tells about it.

There will be fifty Arctic studies scientists in this expedition. And also others, like politician Stientje van Veldhoven, poet Ramsey Nasr and metereologist Peter Kuipers Munneke.

The expedition will study the ecology of, eg, reindeer.

See also here.

Arctic tern research in Svalbard, update

This video shows Dr Maarten Loonen, Arctic tern researcher at Groningen university in the Netherlands. In Svalbard, he holds Arctic tern Guusje, the first tern provided with a geolocator in Dr Loonen’s Arctic tern migration research on Spitsbergen island. If the glue of the ring around Guusje’s leg will be dry, then she will be released, to (probably) travel all the way to the Antarctic, and back to the Arctic.

The 39 terns provided with geolocators on Spitsbergen in 2013 have been named by 39 sponsors in a crowdfunding scheme. That scheme is now finished.

Of the 39 2013 geolocator Arctic terns, 13 individuals were caught again at the same nesting colony in Spitsbergen in 2014. The majority of the 2013 terns had not returned to the nesting site, as it suffered much from Arctic foxes stealing eggs.

The Arctic tern Beauty had already been ringed and provided with a geolocator in 2012; this bird was caught again in 2013, but not in 2014.

Names of the terns ringed in 2013 and recaptured in 2014: Anke, Benji, Henk de Groot, Inky, Jacobird, Jan Pier, Karmijn, Lubbe, Marjolein, Mystic, NoorDrenthe, Suzanne, Tom.

Names of the terns, ringed in 2013, and not caught again in 2014: Angelo, Annelies, Arctic Jewel, BenJeanette, Berna, Ellen, Flo, Frederico Segundo, Gerie, Gerrit de Veer, Guusje, Herman, Hidde, Imiqutailaq, Joanne, Jonathan, Krukel 1, Maamke, Maarten, Meliora, Riiser-Larsen, Ruth, SolarAccess, Stirns, Suzanne, Viti.

In 2014, also 18 Arctic terns nesting in Groningen province, in the Eemshaven harbour, in the Netherlands have been provided with geolocators.

This video by Maarten Loonen says about itself:

9 June 2013

I am joining Derick Hiemstra and Klaas van Dijk in the Eemshaven to observe and ring Arctic Terns. In this industrial area, activity is low and Arctic Terns have started breeding. On this location the world champions [in] migration distance were equipped with a geolocator two years ago and recaught one year ago. Today Derick and Klaas are doing their normal checks. They read colour rings but also metal rings from terns. Then we continue catching and ringing some breeding pairs. All this is part of my preparation for this summer field season on Spitsbergen.

20 Arctic terns nesting in the White Sea region in Russia got geolocators in 2014 as well.

Arctic marine mammals, new study

This video is called How marine mammals survive underwater life – BBC wildlife.

From Wildlife Extra:

First global review on the status, future of Arctic marine mammals published

For Arctic marine mammals, the future is especially uncertain. Loss of sea ice and warming temperatures are shifting already fragile Northern ecosystems.

The precarious state of those mammals is underscored in a multinational study led by a University of Washington scientist, published this week in Conservation Biology, assessing the status of all circumpolar species and subpopulations of Arctic marine mammals, including seals, whales and polar bears. The authors outline the current state of knowledge and their recommendations for the conservation of these animals over the 21st century.

“These species are not only icons of climate change, but they are indicators of ecosystem health, and key resources for humans,” said lead author Kristin Laidre, a polar scientist with the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.

The overall numbers and trends due to climate change are unknown for most of the 78 populations of marine mammals included in the report: beluga, narwhal and bowhead whales; ringed, bearded, spotted, ribbon, harp and hooded seals; walruses; and polar bears.

The paper reviews population sizes and trends over time, if known, for each group, ranging from millions of ringed seals to fewer than a hundred beluga whales in Northern Canada’s Ungava Bay.

“Accurate scientific data – currently lacking for many species – will be key to making informed and efficient decisions about the conservation challenges and tradeoffs in the 21st century,” Laidre said.

The publicly available report also divides the Arctic Ocean into 12 regions, and calculates the changes in the dates of spring sea ice retreat and fall freeze-up from NASA satellite images taken between 1979 and 2013.

Reductions in the sea ice cover, it finds, are “profound.” The summer ice period was longer in most regions by five to 10 weeks. The summer period increased by more than 20 weeks, or about five months, in the Barents Sea off Russia.

The species most at risk from the changes are polar bears and ice-associated seals.

“These animals require sea ice,” Laidre said. “They need ice to find food, find mates and reproduce, to rear their young. It’s their platform of life. It is very clear those species are going to feel the effects the hardest.”

Whales may actually benefit from less ice cover, at least initially, as the open water could expand their feeding habitats and increase food supplies.

Approximately 78 percent of the Arctic marine mammal populations included in the study are legally harvested for subsistence across the Arctic.

“There’s no other system in the world where top predators support human communities the ways these species do,” Laidre said.

The study recommends:

Maintaining and improving co-management with local and governmental entities for resources that are important to the culture and well-being of local and indigenous peoples.

Recognizing variable population responses to climate change and incorporating those into management. In the long term, loss of sea ice is expected to be harmful to many Arctic marine mammals, however many populations currently exhibit variable responses.

Improving long-term monitoring while recognizing monitoring for all species will be impossible. Alternatives include collecting valuable data from subsistence harvests, using remote methods to track changes in habitat, and selecting specific subpopulations as indicators.

Studying and mitigating the impacts of increasing human activities including shipping, seismic exploration, fisheries and other resource exploration in Arctic waters.

Recognizing the limits of protected species legislation. A balanced approach with regard to regulating secondary factors, such as subsistence harvest and industrial activity, will be needed, since protected species legislation cannot regulate the driver of habitat loss.

While the report aims to bring attention to the status and future of Arctic mammals, the authors hope to provoke a broader public response.

“We may introduce conservation measures or protected species legislation, but none of those things can really address the primary driver of Arctic climate change and habitat loss for these species,” Laidre said. “The only thing that can do that is the regulation of greenhouse gases.”

The report was funded by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and NASA. Co-authors are Harry Stern at the UW; Kit Kovacs, Christian Lydersen and Dag Vongraven at the Norwegian Polar Institute; Lloyd Lowry at the University of Alaska; Sue Moore at the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service; Eric Regehr at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage; Steven Ferguson at Fisheries and Oceans Canada; &Ostroke;ystein Wiig at the University of Oslo; Peter Boyeng and Robyn Angliss at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center; Erik Born and Fernando Ugarte at the Greenland Institute of National Resources; and Lori Quakenbush at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The study builds on a 2013 report by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, a multinational group that advises the Arctic Council on biodiversity and conservation issues. Laidre was one of the lead authors for the chapter on marine mammals.

Unique bowhead whale swims near Cornwall

This video is called Bowhead Whale of the Arctic (Nature Documentary).

From ITV in Britain:

Bowhead whale spotted in Cornish waters

A whale never before seen in European waters has been sighted off the Cornish coast.

The Bowhead whale is usually found in the Arctic. The Sea Watch Foundation made this extraordinary discovery after mysterious pictures were sent in showing an animal whose head shape and jaw line didn’t match with descriptions of any of the expected whale species.

The pictures were sent in by Anna Cawthray, taken on a friend’s mobile phone. They showed the 25 ft long whale that she’d encountered off Par Beach on the island of St Martin’s.

Sea Watch’s Sightings Officer, Kathy James, sent the photos to other experts who confirmed the sighting as a bowhead whale. They say its “extraordinary” to see a bowhead in these waters.

Last updated Sat 28 Feb 2015

BBC – Earth – Do whales have graveyards where they prefer to die? Here.