Photographer Finds Pack of Polar Bears Huddling in Old Soviet Dwellings on Lost Arctic Island in Russia

BY Michael Wing March 2, 2022

Like pale ghosts, a pack of white polar bears haunt a dilapidated, abandoned Soviet weather station on a small island in Russia’s Arctic far east.

This sleuth of spooky bears might have gone unnoticed on Kolyuchin Island had David Kokh, a 41-year-old Moscow-based photographer, not set sail on his long-awaited voyage to Wrangel Island last September. He shared how the remarkable encounter, and subsequent photoshoot of a lifetime, transpired.

“We sailed along the coast and covered more than 1,200 miles of untouched landscapes, villages lost in time, spots with various fauna, and seas full of life,” Kokh told The Epoch Times. “One day, bad weather was expected, so our captain approached a small island, Kolyuchin, to take shelter from the storm.”

That Arctic island, located off Russia’s northeastern coast, northwest of the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia, is known for its polar weather station that operated during Soviet times, the photographer said. It was finally closed in 1992, but an abandoned village still stands on the island today.

Kokh described feeling a “childlike sense of excitement” upon discovering the family of polar bears huddled amidst the dismal, depressing dwellings. “The stormy wind, rain, and neglected buildings on the rocky shores all made everything appear super surreal,” he said. “Suddenly, we noticed movement in the windows of the houses. Someone took out some binoculars and we saw the heads of polar bears!”

The bears appeared like wraiths amidst eerie fog on the long-deserted island. “It was the perfect setting,” he added.

Kokh was able to capture the wildlife on camera without disturbing them or exposing himself to danger by using his Mavic 2 Pro drone camera. The drone was equipped with low-noise propellers so as to not startle the enormous bears. He employed clever tricks and maneuvers with his drone to minimize the disturbance. “I was nowhere near them so was not in any danger,” he said.

There were polar bears standing guard like sentinels; peering through windows, alone or in pairs; loitering on porches; and lounging on the lawns outside—making for a wildlife shoot of a lifetime. “The bears walked around the houses, there was about twenty animals in sight at the same time, mostly males,” Kokh said. “The females kept to the side with their cubs, closer to the shores of the island.”

Besides the thrill of the encounter and satisfaction of capturing a rare and unique moment, Kokh was able to share the polar bear photoshoot with the world on his Instagram, where it went viral. “The moment when I encountered the polar bears at the abandoned meteorological station in the Northern Chukotka was very special for me, pretty sure I will never forget it,” he said. “I’m incredibly grateful I can share this moment with people from all around the world.”

Kokh believes that a photographer’s job is to “tell a story”—His story, he adds, is one of the relationship between ourselves, wildlife, and nature.

Courtesy of David Kokh

Buffet Chicken Cacciatore

Lots of steps to this so you’ll need an afternoon, but OH so WORTH IT.

The chicken will be falling off the bone tender.


Buffet Chicken Cacciatore

About half way done …

Goes back into the oven until sauce comes to a boil. Remove from oven. Remove the chicken, stir and place back into pan. Cover with foil and bake another hour.

★★★★★

Italian, Poultry

Servings: 4-6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Olive Oil

2 large onions — chopped

1 clove garlic

1 frying chicken, cut up

salt and pepper

2 28 oz. cans Italian plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon basil

½ tablespoon thyme

 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 bay leaf

1 green pepper — cut into strips

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350

Cover bottom of roasting pan with olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Brown lightly. Salt & pepper chicken parts and lightly brown.

Break up tomatoes, add sugar, red pepper flakes. salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, & bay leaf. Mix well. Add green pepper . Pour over chicken and let come to a boil.

Remove chicken pieces, stir sauce and pour over chicken. Cover with foil and bake one hour.

Remove foil, increase oven to 450 & bake until chicken is delicately brown. Baste with sauce, and serve with small pasta.

Making your own cream cheese is a GAME-CHANGER!

I’m not sure why @chefsymon, the originator of this recipe, makes it outside on his grill BUT it made me want to try it.


Homemade Cream Cheese

Looks easy enough!

Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 20 hr 15 min Difficulty: EasyServings: Yield: 1 cup Source: foodnetwork.com

INGREDIENTS

1 quart (4 cups) cream or whole milk (or a mix of both)

One .05-ounce packet cream cheese starter

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

Set up your grill for low, even heat. If using a charcoal grill, distribute the coals evenly. If using a gas grill, heat both sides.

Slowly heat the milk/cream over low heat to 86 degrees F. Remove from the heat. Mix in the starter packet, mixing for no more than 15 seconds. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

The next day: Ladle the solids into a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a mixing bowl. Gather up the cheesecloth to cover the surface and refrigerate overnight, allowing the cheese to drain and firm up.

The next day, pick up the cheesecloth and pour the cream cheese into a mixing bowl. Season with salt and stir to combine. (If you’d like a firmer cheese, continue to press.)

Homemade Cream Cheese

French Onion Supper Soup

This one’s from an old community cookbook. I’d made it years ago but had forgotten how good it was.

I’ve tried French Onion Soup recipes from Alton Brown, from the Barefoot Contessa and (gasp) the disgraced Frugal Gourmet, among many others. I wouldn’t have looked any further had I recalled making this version. Kick it up a notch by using bone broth if you’ve got it.

SO good. So EASY. So, what are ya waiting for, make it! 😎

Prior to adding the Parmesan…

French Onion Supper Soup

★★★★★

Soups & Stews, TRIED & TRUE

Difficulty: Easy Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

3 large onions, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup butter

4 cups beef or vegetable stock (I used beef bone broth)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 thick slices of French bread

4 ounces Gruyère cheese, sliced

grated Parmesan cheese

DESCRIPTION

A delicious QUICK and EASY full flavored onion soup

DIRECTIONS

In a covered saucepan cook onions and garlic in butter over low heat 20 minutes or until tender; stir occasionally. Add stock and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toast bread. Top each with sliced cheese; sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Ladle soup into 4 bowls. Top with a toast slice and serve.

Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Nuggets are spicy and easy! Great for game day eats, lunch or dinner over a big salad. 

Delicious 😋

Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

Appetizer, Poultry

Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 16 minsServings: Yield: 4 servings Source: skinnytaste.com

Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

INGREDIENTS

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (2 breasts)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder, use ground cayenne to make it hotter

1/8 tsp black pepper

3/4 cup seasoned panko, or gluten-free crumbs

olive oil spray

3 tablespoons Frank’s Hot Sauce, or your favorite hot sauce

optional: celery stalks and carrot sticks, 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Cut the chicken into small bite sized chunks. Season with garlic powder, paprika, chili powder and black pepper.

Place panko in a small bowl. Place the hot sauce in another small bowl.

Dip the chicken into the hot sauce a few at a time, then into the crumbs and place on the air fryer basket in a single layer, in batches if needed.

Spray the top generously with olive oil and air fry 8 minutes at 400, flipping halfway and spraying the other side when you flip.

Serve with celery and carrot sticks and blue cheese dressing, if desired.

NUTRITION

Calories: 180kcal, Carbohydrates: 9.5g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 83mg, Sodium: 501.5mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 1g

Ultimate Tuna Melts

Tuna melts – the ultimate comfort food

Sandwich, Seafood,

Servings: Serves 4 Source: barefootcontessa.com

INGREDIENTS

2 (6 to 8-ounce) jars imported tuna packed in olive oil, drained

½ cup (¼-inch) diced hearts of celery

½ cup minced scallions, white and light green parts (3 scallions)

3 tablespoons minced fresh dill

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup good mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s

1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)

4 large slices bread, such as Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White

4 ounces Swiss cheese, such as Emmentaler, grated

1 ounce microgreens

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, flake the tuna finely with a fork. Add the celery, scallions, and dill, and continue mixing and fluffing with the fork until combined. Add the lemon juice, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Combine the mayonnaise and anchovy paste, if using, and mix into the tuna.

Preheat the broiler. Toast the bread in a toaster and place the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Spread a quarter of the tuna mixture thickly and evenly on each piece of bread, covering the entire slice. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on the 4 sandwiches, covering the tuna completely. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, just until the cheese melts and starts to brown. (Watch it carefully!) Sprinkle with the microgreens and serve hot.

A no recipe RECIPE for Speedy Fish Chowder

🚨Full no-recipe recipe alert🚨
Speedy Fish Chowder: nyti.ms/2BGcxlP

Dice a strip or two of bacon if you’re a meat eater, or grab some butter if you are not (or use both if you are reckless). Add it to a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat and sauté with a few handfuls of diced onions, carrots and potatoes until the onions have gone translucent. Hit the mixture with some salt and pepper and a flash of smoked paprika if you have it. If you can find good corn on the cob, that would be a fine addition. So would a cup of frozen corn.

Do you have any fish stock? No? White wine? Surely you have water. Add enough liquid (of any combination of the above) so that the potatoes are almost swimming, then add a bay leaf and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Allow the chowder to bubble along until the liquid has reduced by a third and the potatoes are tender. Add a splash or two of milk or cream and allow it to heat and thicken slightly. Now cut the fillets into chunks and stir them in gently. Five minutes later: chowder. Serve with crusty bread.

Is it allergies? Seasonal cold or Flu? Or Covid-19?

How to evaluate based on symptoms, something I recently had to do for our adult disabled daughter. It can be a tense time to get it sorted out, as you just can’t walk in and be seen if your symptoms include a cough. I found this article to be very helpful and thought I would share it with you!

Author: Michael D. Schooff, MD, FAAFP is a Family Medicine provider at CHI Health.

With fall allergies in full swing and flu season on the way, people may be wondering if that runny nose is just pollen attacking, a seasonal cold or flu — or if it could be COVID-19. You might be asking: When should I be seen? Should I be tested? 

Symptoms That Can Overlap Cold, Flu, and COVID-19

  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal drainage
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Abdominal symptoms

How to Distinguish Between Illnesses

COVID-19 unfortunately has all of those symptoms. The one symptom relatively unique to COVID-19 is loss of taste and or smell. But that only happens in about 60% of COVID-19 patients. If you lose your sense of taste or smell, COVID-19 is probably the most likely diagnosis.

Allergies usually start in mid-August and it’s usually something people have dealt with in the past. Allergies do cause a lot of histamine-like reactions, such as sneezing, itchy/watery eyes. It can cause a lot of nasal drainage and nasal congestion, so there is some overlap with COVID-19 and flu symptoms. The biggest difference is allergies shouldn’t cause loss of smell or taste. Also fevers and chills are not common for allergies.

Sinus disease tends to come on after 10 or more days of being ill, and it usually happens with green-colored nasal drainage, severe nasal congestion and tooth pain. You can also have chronic sinus disease but that wouldn’t be seasonal. That would tend to be year-round with chronic nasal congestion, smell loss and a lot of nasal drainage.

Strep throat usually begins with a sore throat and a fever. From there, you might have enlarged lymph nodes and sometimes a white coating on the back of the throat. There’s usually not a lot of nasal symptoms. Strep throat is treated with antibiotics, which lessens the duration of symptoms, lessens the chances of spreading it to others, and lessens some side effects like rheumatic fever.

RSV in infants and children usually begins with a fever or runny nose, some congestion and then develops into lower respiratory symptoms of cough, wheezing, difficulty breathing. In adults, RSV presents like any other cold you have had – some runny nose, congestion, a dry nonproductive cough.

Influenza is usually characterized by an abrupt onset of symptoms. The classic influenza patient says, “I felt fine until 3:30 this afternoon and then I felt like a bus hit me.” They develop body aches, fever, fatigue, congestion, sore throat and cough. Influenza can be treated in the first 48 to 72 hours with antivirals that can help shorten duration of symptoms. 

What to Do When Symptoms Strike

With COVID-19 still in our area, it’s important to be seen and evaluated for these symptoms so you can be treated — and help prevent the spread of illness to your family, coworkers and the community. 

Call your primary care provider’s office.

  • Depending on your symptoms and underlying health conditions, they may recommend you come in to be seen in the clinic.
  • They may do a telehealth visit over video or telephone to assess your condition.
  • Call first rather than walking in so your provider can decide the best way to see you. Let them guide you to the care you need

If you don’t have a primary care provider, you can access CHI Health Virtual Quick Care.

  • Call 402-717-1255 or go to CHIhealth.com/virtual.
  • These providers can assess your symptoms and determine if you do need to be tested and/or treated for allergies, flu, strep, COVID-19 – or something else.
  • Unless you have severe or life-threatening symptoms, avoid going to emergency rooms which can be overwhelmed with a lot of very sick people.

When in doubt about symptoms, it’s always better to be seen. Steps you can take for a healthier fall season include washing your hands, keeping your distance and masking in indoor public spaces and getting your COVID-19 and the flu vaccines.

Author:

This week in history …

217 years ago Aaron Burr was on St. Simons and rode out a hurricane while on the north end. The ruins of John Couper’s house can still be seen on Cannons Point!

After Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel he came to St. Simons to avoid prosecution as dueling had been made illegal. While here he visited John Couper on Cannon’s Point and survived a hurricane. This is his letter to his daughter, it includes fascinating tidbits about life back then.

all that remains of John Couper’s house

TO THEODOSIA.

St. Simon’s, September 3, 1804.

You see me returned from Gaston’s Bluff, now called ‘Hamilton’s Bluff’, a London merchant, partner of Mr. Couper. We were four in the carriage; the three ladies and myself.

Mr. Morse informs you that this island is forty-five miles long, and that it lies north of the mouth Altamaha, commonly spelled Alatamaha. It is, in fact, twelve and a half miles in length, and lies southeast of that river. Its width is about two and a half miles. There are now residing on the island about twenty-five white families. Frederica, now known only by the name of ‘Old Town’, is on the west side of the island, and about midway between its northern and southern extremities. It was first settled by Governor Oglethorpe, and was, about fifty years ago, a very gay place, consisting of perhaps twenty-five or thirty houses. The walls of several of them still remain. Three or four families only now reside here. In the vicinity of the town several ruins were pointed out to me, as having been, formerly, country seats of the governor, and officers of the garrison, and gentlemen of the town. At present, nothing can be more gloomy than what was once called Frederica. The few families now remaining, or rather residing there, for they are all new-comers, have a sickly, melancholy appearance, well assorted with the ruins which surround them. The southern part of this island abounds with fetid swamps, which must render it very unhealthy. On the northern half I have seen no stagnant water.

Mr. Couper, with his escort of ladies, was to have met us this afternoon, but he has sent us word that he is taken ill on the way; that, owing to illness in the family of the ladies who were to have accompanied him, they have been obliged to renounce the visit. We therefore returned as we went. At Frederica and Gaston’s Bluff we were convinced that insects can subsist on this island. Moschetoes, flies, and cockroaches abounded.

Thursday, September 6, 1804

Just returned from Darien. And what took you to Darien? To see the plantation of Mr. Butler on an island opposite that town, and to meet a day sooner the letters which I expected from you. In the last object I have been again disappointed, which I ascribe wholly to the irregularity of the mails. It is most mortifying and vexatious to be seven weeks without hearing of you or from you, and now a whole week must elapse before I can expect it.

You are probably ignorant that Darien is a settlement (called a town) on the north bank of the Alatamaha, about eight miles from its mouth. Major Butler’s Island in this river is one mile below the town. It must become a fine rice country, for the water is fresh four miles below Major Butler’s, and the tide rises from four to five feet, and the flats or swamps are from five to seven miles in width for a considerable distance up the river. The country, of course, presents no scenes for a painter. I visited Little St. Simon’s and several other islands; frightened the crocodiles, shot some rice-birds, and caught some trout. Honey of fine flavour is found in great abundance in the woods about the mouth of the river, and, for aught I know, in every part of the country. You perceive that I am constantly discovering new luxuries for my table. Not having been able to kill a crocodile (alligator), I have offered a reward for one, which I mean to eat, dressed in soup, fricassees, and steaks. Oh! how you long to partake of this repast.

Wednesday, September 12, 1804.

On Friday last, hearing that Mr. Couper had returned and was very seriously ill, I took a small canoe with two boys, and went to see him. He lay in a high fever. When about to return in the evening, the wind had risen so that, after an ineffectual attempt, I was obliged to give it up, and remain at Mr. C.’s. In the morning the wind was still higher. It continued to rise, and by noon blew a gale from the north, which, together with the swelling of the water, became alarming. From twelve to three, several of the out-houses had been destroyed; most of the trees about the house were blown down. The house in which we were shook and rocked so much that Mr. C. began to express his apprehensions for our safety. Before three, part of the piazza was carried away; two or three of the windows bursted in. The house was inundated with water, and presently one of the chimneys fell. Mr. C. then commanded a retreat to a storehouse about fifty yards off, and we decamped, men, women, and children. You may imagine, in this scene of confusion and dismay, a good many incidents to amuse one if one had dared to be amused in a moment of much anxiety. The house, however, did not blow down. The storm continued till four, and then very suddenly abated, and in ten minutes it was almost a calm. I seized the moment to return home. Before I had got quite over, the gale rose from the southeast and threatened new destruction. It lasted great part of the night, but did not attain the violence of that from the north; yet it contributed to raise still higher the water, which was the principal instrument of devastation. The flood was about seven feet above the height of an ordinary high tide. This has been sufficient to inundate great part of the coast; to destroy all the rice; to carry off most of the buildings which were on low lands, and to destroy the lives of many blacks. The roads are rendered impassable, and scarcely a boat has been preserved. Thus all intercourse is suspended. The mail-boat, which ought to have passed northward last Saturday, and by which it was intended to forward this letter, has not been heard of. This will go by a man who will attempt to get from Darien to Savannah on foot, being sent express by the manager of Major Butler; but how, or whether it will go on from Savannah, is not imagined.

Major Butler has lost nineteen negroes (drowned), and I fear his whole crop of rice, being about two hundred and sixty acres. Mr. Brailsford, of Charleston, who cultivates in rice an island at the mouth of the Alatamaha, has lost, reports say, seventy-four blacks. The banks and the buildings on the low lands are greatly injured. We have heard nothing from the southward, nor farther than from Darien northward. I greatly fear that this hurricane, so it is here called, has extended to the Waccama.

The illness of Mr. C., which still continues, and the effects of the storm, have defeated all my plans. To get to Florida seems now impracticable; nor do any present means occur of getting from this island in any direction. Young Swartwout, who went ten days ago to Savannah, has not returned, nor is it possible that he should very speedily return. I have not received a letter since my arrival from any person north of Savannah (yes, one from C. Biddle, of 19th August), nor do I expect one for many days to come.

I had taken up another sheet to say something more, I know not what; but the appearance of a fine sheep’s-head smoking on the table has attractions not to be resisted. ‘Laissez moi diner’, “and then,” &c.

Madame j’ais bien diner’, and ‘j’ai fait mettre mon’ writing-desk _sur le table a diner’. What a scandalous thing to sit here all alone drinking Champagne–and yet–(_madame je bois a votre santé et a celle de monsieur’ votre fils)–and yet, I say, if Champagne be that exhilarating cordial which (_je bois a la santé de Madame Sumtare) songs and rumour ascribe to it (a la santé de Mademoiselle Sumtare), can there be ever an occasion in which its application could be more appropriate, or its virtues more (_mais buvons a la santé de mon hôte et bon ami’, Major Butler). By-the-by, you have no idea–how should you have, seeing that you never heard a word about it?–you have no idea, I was going to say, of the zeal and animation, of the intrepidity and frankness with which he avowed and maintained–but I forget that this letter goes to Savannah by a negro, who has to swim half a dozen creeks, in one of which, ‘at least’, it is probable he may drown, and that, if he escape drowning, various other accidents may bring it to you through the newspapers, and then how many enemies might my indiscretion create for a man who had the sensibility and the honour to feel and to judge, and the firmness to avow (_a la santé de Celeste un’ bumper toast). ‘La pauvre Celeste’. Adieu.

A. BURR.