Changing Planet

Franz Josef Land Expedition: A Closer Look at Russia’s Arctic National Park

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala is setting off to explore Franz Josef Land, one of the most remote archipelagos in the world, only 900 km from the North Pole. Home to polar bears, whales, seals and more, the team will investigate how global warming may be affecting this crucial ecosystem in ways we still do not fully comprehend. Follow his adventures throughout the month.

By Lucie McNeil, Expedition Team Member

We asked Irina Skalina, Head of the Education & Outreach Group, Russian Arctic National Park today to share some of what her team is working on aboard the MS Polaris.

“The visitor’s center of the National Park is based in Arkhangelsk region – yet most of the people there do not know much about the territory of archipelago. That’s because of the difficulties of simply getting there—both distance and costs.”

We’re excited to be here on this expedition as it gives the Park a new way to update sparse, current information about the region. We are the Education & Outreach group of the Russian Arctic National Park and our group here on the boat is gathering new images and video for the Park’s website, the biggest search engine in Russia, and, as well as preparing spherical panoramas for virtual guided tours—our biggest search portal for mobile.

Some of our work will be aimed at mass media in Russia, covering the clean-up of ecological damage on Franz Jozef Land, for example on Hayes and Hooker islands; the conditions of the many historical monuments on the archipelago, for example of the Ziegler camp on Alger island. We are also planning a documentary about our experience on expedition. And there’ll be content for children for our webpage about the adventures of a kitten from Arkhangelsk region, on the polar islands.”

For more updated information, go to: soon, and check out Russian Arctic National Park on Facebook.

NEXT: Read All Franz Josef Land 2013 Blog Posts


The Pristine Seas: Franz Josef Land expedition is sponsored by Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.

Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who combines science, exploration and media to help restore marine life. Sala’s scientific publications are used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine protected areas. 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.

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