There are things observed on a polar expedition that cannot easily be explained.
Consider Champ Island in Russia’s Franz Josef Land, where visits can "see strange things" that really meet the definition of “mysterious.”
Champ Island is located hundreds of miles north of the Russian mainland and is one of the many Arctic islands that make up the uninhabited archipelago known as Franz Josef Land. But there are a few things that set it apart from its nearly 200 companion islands in the chilly Arctic Ocean – most noticeably that it is littered with mysterious stone spheres of varying sizes.
The sizes of these stone balls vary widely. Some are smaller than Ping-Pong balls, some are human-sized, and others are huge balls – up to several meters in diameter!
Where did these stone spheres come from?
No one knows with absolute certainty how these stones got here, since the island is of course uninhabited. There are no humans and no human records to explain what caused the stones to look like they do.
A likely theory is that these stone balls are concretions, masses of mineral formed underwater when a cementing sedimentary material, carried by water, comes into contact with an organic nucleus like a leaf, a twig, a shell or maybe a fossil.
The resulting chemical reaction forms the ball in layers around the organic core, often as a perfect sphere.
These balls are actually found in many places around the world, and people are known to crack them open in search of what they hope is a fossil inside.
Why are the Champ Island spheres different?
In the case of areas like Champ Island, though, the stones are still prevalent because of the lack of human interaction over the centuries. But they have often been altered anyway – worn down – by time, the elements, and environmental changes.
The Arctic – A Final Frontier
The stone balls aren’t all there is to see on an expedition to Champ Island. The island also features the highest peaks of the entire Franz Josef archipelago – snow-capped mountains you’ll want to capture in your photographs.
For more arctic photography tips and inspiration, check out this journey to the Arctic with photo enthusiasts Janet and John Tangney.
Champ Island’s natural attractions are just some examples of the mysteries and wonders we encounter as we continue to learn about the Arctic and its culture. The top of the world really is one of the planet’s last frontiers, even though humans have lived there throughout history.
Read more first-hand accounts of Arctic exploration by fashionista Jeanne Beker,
Champ Island is just one of the wonders of the far north you might experience on your Arctic or North Pole expedition. Want to learn more about the different places you could visit and things you could see or do?
Check out Our Guide to the Most Popular Arctic Expedition Destinations.