The “Arctic Doomsday” seed vault just took in a hefty deposit of some of the world’s most varied and treasured plant seeds to store in case of a world catastrophe.
Arctic “doomsday” seed vault in Svalbard. @christophorus photo
The recent deposit to the Global Seed Vault consisted of 50,000 seeds from several countries around the world including the US, Britain, and Pakistan.15,000 of those seeds derived from the International Center for Agricultural Research (ICARDA), restoring some of the seeds they borrowed three years ago. The vault has been the go – to storage facility as ICARDA’s other facility is inaccessible in Aleppo, Syria due to sustained conflict. The organization, which strives to improve agricultural production in dry zones such as the Middle East and Africa, borrowed potato, rice, barley, lentil, wheat and sorghum seeds previously and has since relocated its operations to Morocco and Lebanon.
“Together, the nations that have deposited their seed collections account for over a quarter of the world’s population,” Marie Haga, Executive Director of Crop Trust, the organization behind the vault, said in a statement.
The vault, located on the remote Arctic isle of Spitsbergen is buried 425 feet inside a mountain and covered with snow. The consistent cool temperatures from permafrost levels and low seismic activity are crucial factors in its location and ability to sustain seeds for hundreds of years.
Schematic of the Doomsday Vault in Spitsbergen.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault currently hold just under a million seeds and has a full capacity of 4.5 million. The Seeds would be a backup for key agricultural staples in the case of a global catastrophic incident.
Polar bear on the outside trying to get into the ship. Kyrakos Kaziras/Rex photo.
Wildlife photographer, Kyriakos Kaziras aboard an adventure cruise near Spitsbergen,Norway received some thrills when a polar bear approached and then attempted to board his ship cruising through the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. His passion for capturing images of wildlife became slightly risky when this particular bear reached in through the grated port hole and swiped his paw at Kaziras. Quite the thrill. In my extensive time in Churchill I have experienced similar situations while attempting to photograph the wiley polar bears of the polar bear capital.It is thrilling and terrifying in the same moment!
Curious polar bear near Spitsbergen on the Arctic Ocean pack ice observing the ship. Kyriakos Kaziras/Rex photo.
It’s somewhat routine for polar bears to approach passenger ships in the area when they spot the large vessels from afar. They venture toward them to investigate and even smells from the ships may also draw the bears nearer. Most polar bears stay a safe distance from the slow moving ships however this one had no hesitancy at getting as close as possible.
Polar bear approaching the ship at close range. Kyriakos Kaziras/Rex photo.
Polar bear against the ship as it crawls through the ice of the Arctic Ocean. Kyriakos Kaziras/Rex photo.
For more than two hours this bruin attempted to find a way to get aboard the boat. At one point he climbed atop a large pressure ridge in the ice and was level with the open deck of the vessel. “Eventually the bear managed to climb on a small iceberg, and ended up next to us, at the same height. At that moment he could have easily jumped into the boat. It took all the experience of our captain and an emergency maneuver to get us out of this mess and away from the bear.” If the bear had found a way to board the ship the exciting adventure might have ended tragically for passengers or the bear!
Polar bear climbing a pressure ridge in attempt to board the boat. Kyriakos Kaziras/Rex photo.
Polar bear literally “chomping at the bit” to get aboard the ship. Kyriakos Kaziras/Rex photo