Rare Siberian ice balls
© Ekaterina Chernykh
'We all were very surprised. Many people believed it only when saw with they own eyes. This has not happened previously.'
Nature makes its own collection of snowballs on the Arctic shore of the Gulf of Ob.

Like thousands of white cannonballs dumped on the beach, you think these have to be manmade, perhaps part of some sculpture exhibition. But the giant snowballs are entirely natural, although the sight has not been witnessed here in living memory.

It was ten days ago that the villagers of Nyda, just above the Arctic Circle, started noticing the phenomenon. Some are the size of tennis balls. Others almost as large as a basketball.

Local resident Ekaterina Chernykh said: 'We have them only in one place. It's as if someone spilled them. They are all of different sizes, from tennis balls to volleyball.

'We all were very surprised. Many people believed it only when saw with they own eyes. This has not happened previously. And there was not so much snow for them to form. It's so interesting.'

Valery Akulov, from the village administration, said: 'Even old-timers say they see this phenomenon for the first time. These balls appeared about a week and a half ago.


'When the water in the gulf rose, it came into contact with the frost. The beach began to be covered with ice. Then the water began to slowly retreat, and the ice remained. Its pieces were rolling over in the wet sand, and turned into these balls.'

Spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) Sergey Lisenkov said: 'It is a rare natural phenomenon. As a rule, grease ice forms first, slush. And then a combination of the action of the wind, the outlines of the coastline, and the temperature, may lead to the formation of such balls.'

While not seen here for as long as anyone can remember, a similar phenomenon was noticed at Lake Michigan in 2014.