"A Hermitage-class Find"
The Arctic Floating University brought an invaluable cargo from an expedition to the high Arctic seas19 july 2022
19 July 2022 // Participants of the Arctic Floating University project, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, spent another 24 days on the Northern seas. The team on board the Professor Molchanov research vessel has fully met the scientific plans. Young scientists and students brought unique materials from a trip to the polar seas. The findings are worth a full year of research. They also found rare seaweed which could become a source of new antibiotics, and even a real antique Pomorian karbas boat.
The Arctic Floating University returned to Arkhangelsk from Novaya Zemlya on July 16. 55 expedition participants representing 17 research and educational organisations managed to cover just about every point of the planned route along the White, Barents and Kara Seas.
'The biggest thing here is that we managed to reach all the planned points that had not been previously visited by the Floating University, and were rarely seen by other expeditions to Novaya Zemlya. Those are very remote places,' says Aleksandr Saburov, the expedition leader.
Throughout the voyage, the expedition conducted hydrological research, studying the currents and movement of water masses in the high Arctic seas. Particular attention was paid to the warm waters from the Atlantic that provide for ice-free winters in Kola Bay near Murmansk.
Equally busy this year was the microbiological research unit. The researchers were looking for microorganisms not yet known to science. Perhaps they will become a source of new antibiotics or antimicrobial agents, or of certain enzymes used in the food and cosmetics industry. The most promising find thus far is red snow, which may contain the rare Chlamydomonas nivalis algae that tend to give snow such an unusual hue. The researchers managed to find snow just like that in Ivanov Bay.
However, the biggest 'catch' was hauled in by historians. This year they brought an authentic Pomorian karbas boat from the Orange Islands to the mainland, something they had not been able to achieve for years. The chilly Arctic climate made it possible for the antique vessel to stay perfectly intact.
'I am not shy to state that this is a Hermitage, or Russian Historical Museum-class find. We have our work cut out for us now. First we need to dry these materials, and then we can build a replica boat. This means we will finally learn how the Pomorian sewn boats looked, not through reconstructions, but by studying the real thing right here,' enthuses Aleksandr Kirilov, director of the Russian Arctic National Park.
Every task set for this year's expedition has been fulfilled. The educational program was also completed. The students brought back tremendous new knowledge and, just as importantly, amassed some unforgettable experience.