All news

Siberian scientists analyze Northern Sea Route’s impact on sea birds, mammals

The expedition will continue for about one week

MOSCOW, July 6. /TASS/. Specialists of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch will analyze the biodiversity of sea birds and mammals along the Northern Sea Route - Nornickel’s main transport corridor, the Great Scientific Expedition’s press service told TASS.

"The survey will be organized along the Northern Sea Route onboard a transport vessel," the press service said. "A group of two people - a senior expert and a senior lab assistant of the Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals (the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk) - will analyze how the company’s operations influence the fauna."

"The Northern Sea Route’s western part is the main transport route for the Norilsk Industrial District, which is used year-round to supply social cargo to the region," the press service continued. "In 2021, Nornickel’s fleet transported along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) 1.8 million tonnes of cargo."

"The company’s sea transportation is important not only in terms of NSR’s traffic, but they favor the development of port cities Dudinka and Murmansk, and additionally they favor development of the port infrastructures and of the navigation safety," the press service added.

The expedition will continue for about one week. The vessel will sail from Dudinka along the Yenisei’s northern part and will enter the Kara Sea. Further on, the ship will head for the Barents Sea through the Kara Gates. Murmansk will be the final destination. The survey’s main objectives are observation and calculation of birds and sea mammals. The scientists hope to see various species: gulls, pinnipeds, and cetaceans, including beluga whales.

"We will conduct the observation during the entire voyage," the press service quoted the institute’s senior expert Igor Chupin as saying. "This means that within a distance of 300 meters we will register all animals, we will calculate them to draw conclusions accordingly."

"We will also register how the ship’s sailing will influence animals," he added. "For example, how and at what distance birds are taking off."

Results of this observation will be used to assess the biodiversity in the Northern Sea Route’s section, which Norilsk Nickel has been using. This work and its conclusions comply with requirements of the national law on the biological diversity in the sea environment. In order to conduct systematic observations, the company will organize a similar voyage in autumn. A study of the kind was conducted last time in 1994 as a part of the large Ecology of the Tundra Russian-Swedish expedition.

"The scientists have set a task to offer new methods to register animals in the Arctic latitudes, which obviously will be a scientific input, since such clear international methods for the northern hemisphere have been underway," the press service said. "Another result would be an article, which the institute will include into its scientific report."

About Great Scientific Expedition

The basic biodiversity survey continues the work, which the Norilsk Nickel Company (Nornickel) and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch began in 2020. Since the Great Norilsk Expedition this work has extended into another three regions. The survey’s purpose is to identify the company’s impact zones and to assess biodiversity in areas of Nornickel’s operations. The research results will become the base for a corporate system to manage the impact on biodiversity and to develop programs for its preservation and monitoring.