News - March 17, 2016

‘Polar bear’ man Piet Oosterveld passed away

Linda van der Nat

Pole pioneer and former Alterra employee Piet Oosterveld passed away at the age of 77. Oosterveld is seen as one of the founders of the Dutch pole research, but is particularly known because he survived a polar bear attack.

Photo: SEES Expeditie / Henny Radstaak

From the late sixties Oosterveld wintered together with three biology colleagues on the peninsula Edgeøya on Svalbard a couple of times, to do research on polar bears and reindeer. In 1987 at Kapp Lee, at a research station built by four students, he was attacked by a polar bear and he was bitten in the face. Oosterveld was seriously injured. After this attack the Dutch research at Edgeøya was decreased in frequency.

Last august Oosterveld returned to the place of attack, as participant of the research expedition SEES. More than fifty Dutch researchers, including a group from Wageningen, participated in research on the consequences of climate change on the North Pole.

In the seventies Oosterveld worked for the RIN, the Rijks Institute for Nature Conservation, a precursor of Alterra.