A new 8,155 sq km marine reserve off Russia’s Siberian coast has been established, thanks in part to a recent WWF-Russia study supported by Oceans 5 that helped establish the ecological importance of the area. Much of the reserve is centred around the Medvezhyi Islands.
Dmitry Gorshkov, Director of WWF-Russia, said: “The name of the Medvezhyi Islands (the Bear Islands) speaks for itself. These islands are important to the conservation of the polar bear and are a popular place for polar bears to give birth. Females and their cubs are especially vulnerable and need extra protection in the spring when they leave their dens.” The waters surrounding the islands are a habitat for juvenile fish, bearded and ringed seals, and unique communities of invertebrate organisms living on and around the seabed. The area is also visited by beluga whales, walruses and sea lions. Although welcoming the new reserve, we believe that there are still many environmentally important areas in Russia’s waters that need to be safeguarded.