Set against a backdrop of dried grass, rusted tanks, and debris, a photo series by Dmitry Kokh centers on a small group of polar bears that had taken over an abandoned meteorological station last fall. The dilapidated structures are located between Russia and Alaska on Kolyuchin Island in the Chukchi Sea, a remote tundra the Moscow-based photographer visited on a 1,200-mile expedition in September 2021. “We expected to meet (the polar bears) mostly on Wrangel Island, famous all around the world for being home for many bears. Not this year, as we found out later—maybe because of the very cold summer,” he writes.
Russians built the weather center on Kolyuchin in 1932 before retiring it in the 90s, and it now sits unoccupied along with the rest of the area, which is devoid of residential life. When Kokh and his companions passed the island that’s just 2.8 miles at its longest stretch, they saw the white animals moving through the vacated buildings. The site’s chipping paint, exposed support beams, and generally worn features make the resulting images appear almost post-apocalyptic as the photographer captures the bears wandering the rundown property, poking their heads through the windows, and lounging on the grass.
Kokh’s shot of a bear resting its front legs on a window sill won a National Geographic-organized contest last year, and he also filmed a short video of his visit, which you can watch below. Shop prints of the series on his site, and follow him on Instagram for more wildlife photos.
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