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The ‘Life on the Ice’ Expedition: Observing Seal Pups (06.03.2009-10.03.2009)

Our first open seal pup expedition in the mouth of the White Sea has taken place with great success. For the first time, MSU club members, who were not zoology or environment experts (let alone hunters), visited the drift ice where harp seals give birth to their white pups. The newborn pups can be observed for just one or two weeks a year, and we managed to do so very well. A Moscow State University Diving Club group, led by Dmitry Orlov and Ivan Kronberg, was dropped off on the drift ice by two Mig Mi-8 helicopters, which then returned to the shore. In the evening, the helicopters came back for the divers; despite the thick fog that fell on the sea, the crews found the divers by using coordinates communicated by satellite phone, landed successfully on the ice and picked up the expedition members. Everyone loved the pups and their mothers. We managed to observe and photograph various aspects of their behaviour. We also saw a pair of walruses on the edge of the ice, but they did not come any closer. During the short but packed weekend trip, we took a charter flight to the Solovetsky Islands, where we went on an excursion to the famous monastery there and had a trip to the Malye Korely Museum of Old Russian Architecture. The RuDIVE Group thanks the Arkhangelsk Aviation Division for their high level of professionalism and efficiency in the difficult weather conditions. The next club seal pup expedition will take place in early March 2010.