Russian underwater and wildlife photographer Dmitry Kokh took a trip of a lifetime to an abandoned meteorological station on Kolyuchin Island. This small island, located in the Chukchi Sea, is in a remote area of the Russian arctic. While humans have long since left the area, Kokh discovered that there are other creatures making themselves comfortable. Polar bears have overtaken the station, turning the old buildings into cozy homes and, from the looks of it, thriving.
Kokh’s photos are a welcome sight, as we’re often shown images of polar bears who are struggling. But here, we are able to see these incredible creatures lounging on the grass or peering out from windows to see what Kokh is up to. This thrilling opportunity to see the polar bears is something that Kokh will not soon forget. He and his traveling companions covered over 1,200 miles of the coast in a sailboat, exploring the untouched landscape.
Their original destination to photograph polar bears—Wrangle Island—turned out to be a bust. Though the island is famous for its bears, they simply weren’t there when the adventurers landed. Instead, they were treated to something that was perhaps better—and certainly more unexpected.
“Nature always sends you something when you least expect it,” Kokh tells My Modern Met. “When we passed through the Kolyuchin Island near the Northern coast of Chukotka, we saw some movements in the windows of the abandoned houses. And when we got close—those were bears! Never before they were seen in those buildings, so that was a once in a lifetime situation.”