Overview Franz Josef Land, map
General, landscape: A group of tiny rock islands with some wide beach areas east of Payer Island in the northern part of Austria Sound. The main island Stoliczka was discovered and named already by the exploration sledge tour of the Payer-Weyprecht expedition in 1874.
The beaches of the islands are known since the days of the pioneers as well-frequented walrus rookeries, but may not be accessible so far up in the North due to difficult ice conditions, sometimes even for the whole summer. In addition comes their location, which can be fairly exposed to swell, sometimes making an approach with small boats problematic.
Biology, wildlife: Some lower, flat parts of the islands offer some tundra vegetation. In addition to the walrus haulouts, there are on Stoliczka also breeding colonies of Alle alle, Cepphus grylle, Rissa tridactyla and some Larus hyperboreus in the rock cliffs of the island.
Names: Stoliczka is the biggest of these skerries, named by the TEGETTHOFF expedition in 1874 after the moravian palaeontologist Ferdinand Stoliczka. Apollonov is situated more to the west and closer to Payer Island, with a maximal diameter of only about 500 m.
Tourism: Apollonov-Stoliczka is the most wellknown walrus rookery in Franz-Josef-Land, therefore often included in cruise itineries. Due to the exposed locality, it is, however often not particularly suited for a landing. Experienced expedition leaders will know alternatives elsewhere in the archipelago.
Safety: As anywhere, respectful distance should be kept from the animals when in the water also here, and also a minimum speed with light boats to be able to escape out of dangerous situations quickly. This requires also good discipline by the participants in the boats, inspite of all enthusiasm: stay seated at any time in order not to be thrown over board by unexpected hits or acceleration. A walrus, even if only playfully examining a boat, can easily damage it - and in the icy water, these huge animals are amazingly agile.
In case of a planned landing, a careful reconnaissance should be done first, as polar bears are very common near walrus colonies, hoping for a young not protected for a moment by the grown-up animals.
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