Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve
By Bjørn Fossli Johansen (ed.), Jørn Henriksen, Øystein Overrein, Kristin Prestvold
East of Spitsbergen are two large islands called Barentsøya and Edgeøya. The area has a rich wildlife, especially when it comes to polar bears, reindeer, walrus, seabirds and geese. In the west of Edgeøya there are cultural remains from European whaling. Edgeøya and Tusenøyane were the main area for Russian overwintering hunting between 1700 and 1850. Traces of Norwegian overwintering hunting as well as newer scientific research can also be found. The area has been a nature reserve since 1973.
Traffic in the area
Most traffic in the area is cruise ship tourism. There is also some scientific activity here, but there are no scientists permanently stationed here. Much of the research is carried out late in the winter and in spring, such as polar bear research, research on ice, oceanography and marine biology. Many of the polar bears that have been tagged during the last decade have had this done on Barentsøya or Edgeøya or in Storfjorden.
Updated April 2009
Norwegian Polar Institute