Reserve "Wrangel Island": animals and plants
The famous Russian environmental complex is located in the northernmost point of the country. Despite the fact that the indigenous people called the island "The Land of Polar Bears" ("Umkilir"), the official name of the reserve was given in honor of the popular compatriot Ferdinand Wrangel, who is considered the conqueror of the seas.
This is one of the largest natural areas, because its area is more than two million hectares. Sea waters occupy about half the area, but only eight hundred thousand hectares are under state protection. In addition, the reserve "Wrangel Island" includes the island of Herald. Both lands are located in the Chukchi Sea and are part of the Chukotka Autonomous Region.
The reserve "Wrangel Island" is protected by the state (Russian Federation) and is located on the lands of Chukotka just above the seventy-first degree of northern latitude.In general, this is the northernmost part of all possible protected areas of the country. The original purpose of creating such a place was to study existing Arctic ecosystems, as well as the preservation of certain species of the animal world, such as the polar bear and goose, as well as walrus. But in what zone is the reserve "Wrangel Island"?
Geographically, it is located among the Arctic deserts, surrounded by the icy waters of the oceans, unlike his brother, located among the tundra forests of the reserve "Taimyr". "Wrangel Island" and the Taimyr Peninsula are the most famous natural biozones, on which some endangered animal species live in the natural wild environment.
According to archaeological research, for the first time in the Arctic territories, people appeared in 1750 years before our era. But the land itself was applied to world maps only in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the twenties of the last century, the island territory was gradually settled by immigrants from the United States of America and Canada, and in 1924 it became part of the vast USSR state. The creation of the very first polar station in the Wrangel Island reserve took place two years after the installation of the flag of the Soviet Union.The leader then became a researcher of the Arctic zone - George Ushakov.
In addition to endemic animals and plant species, they were able to acclimate the musk oxen on the island. The modern land borders of the Wrangel Island reserve were finally formed in 1983, and the area of the protected marine area was identified in 1999. Recent changes to increase coastal zones occurred in 2012.
The natural area of the reserve "Wrangel Island" for the most part is presented in the form of a mountainous landscape, covered with arctic tundra.
The island has more than a hundred streams and real rivers of various widths and lengths, as well as more than a thousand natural reservoirs and lakes. The climatic conditions of the island are quite windy and frosty, often scientists have a hard time, and because of the blizzards, tourist access can be blocked indefinitely.
Officially, the natural reserve area "Wrangel Island" was declared protected in 1976. On March 23, the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR signed a special Decree on the arrangement and organization of protective activities. But in fact, all events began much earlier.In 1953, officials of the Magadan region adopted a document on taking under their responsibility the protection of walrus rookeries located on the island. In 1960, the regional executive committee of Magadan established a reserve for long-term actions. Eight years later, it was transformed into a place of national significance, and in 2004 the natural area located in the Wrangel Island nature reserve received the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Why was the name given precisely in honor of Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel? Having lived a long life (from 1796 to 1870), Wrangel and his expeditions made more than once attempts to reach the coastal territories of the island, but everything ended in collapse. He even tried to use dog sleds, but this option also failed. However, despite the fact that the existing goal was not achieved, his research work gathered enough data to successfully put the island on world maps. Toward the middle of the nineteenth century, the work of Wrangel began to be published in different languages and published in almost all European countries. Thus, in 1867, during his outing into the sea, the American whaler Thomas De Long was able to bypass the island and come close to the rock formations.Of course, without delay, he called the new land the name of a famous scientist who had flown around the world.
An interesting fact is that the Wrangel Island reserve area at the time of the Soviets was the first area among nature conservation areas, where local residents were allowed to lead a commercial life. But these lands are full of ancient artifacts. So, there were found both remnants of long-extinct mammoths, and evidence of cave people living in these places.
Variety of flora
Considering the zone in which the Wrangel Island reserve is located, we should expect the presence of a completely unique flora. In total, scientists have registered about five hundred species of plant life. This figure is several times higher than the percentage among other lands covered by the Arctic tundra.
Interesting endemics, that is, species growing exclusively in a given locality in Russia, are the potter, the silverweed, the varietal poppy and the olerocod. Moreover, more than three hundred species of lichens and mosses were identified. Shrubs are widespread, and the main mountainous area is covered with lichens and grasses.The mountains themselves are represented in the form of stony deposits, and their peaks are stone embankments. Walking through the territory, you can stumble on the wetlands. The southern part of the island has a small forest plantation.
Variety of fauna
Due to the harsh climate, there is a restriction on the diversity of wildlife in the natural area of the reserve "Wrangel Island". What types are missing here? For example, in the Arctic tundra it is impossible to meet a single representative of amphibians or reptiles, and the fish can live only on the coast itself. However, despite this, the island is rich in feathered. A lot of birds make nests here and raise their offspring.
Eiders, white geese, black geese and sandpipers are of particular interest to researchers. On the coasts, you can often see a picture called the bird market: cormorants, moevki, and murreys come together. In 1948, in the reserve "Wrangel Island" the fauna was replenished with reindeer, and in 1975 with musk oxen. Sometimes you can meet foxes coming from the mainland, and wolves and wolverines of local residents will not be surprised.
Despite the genuine interest of the world in these places, the animals living in the reserve "Wrangel Island" have not been fully studied. Information about the common fauna is also not enough.Scientists have so far noted the presence of sixteen species of mammals, about fifty species of nesting birds and twenty species of fish. Of course, if you remember what natural zone the Wrangel Island nature reserve is in, you can understand this scarcity and poverty of the species composition, despite some plurality of individual forms of life.
Dry tundra areas are considered the least inhabited areas, water in such an area is rare. More or less life flows on the slopes and near open reservoirs. The specific biotope of the reserve is steep slopes located along river banks. It is around them that all life activity is concentrated.
The animals of the reserves "Wrangel Island" and "Taimyr" are strikingly distinguished by species. So, if in the latter close attention is paid to a wild reindeer, the most famous resident on the island is the polar bear. A huge number of his lair is scattered almost throughout the protected area.
In addition, ermines, arctic foxes and lemmings live here. Reindeer are also present on the island, but in smaller quantities, since they are not indigenous people.On the coast there are whole walrus rookeries, and belugas and gray whales live in the cold waters of the water area. In comparative proximity there is another island - the Herald, on which ringed seals and bearded seals are found.
The reserve area includes not only Wrangel Island, but also the aforementioned Herald Island, as well as the coastline of the Chukchi Sea and the coastal waters of the East Siberian Sea. All over the territory of the island Herald mountains are located, they are presented in the form of an outcall or an isolated mountain range, which was previously a higher and more powerful surface. The decrease was due to exposure to wind, water and erosion. By the sea, the mountains are terminated by giant rock canopies.
Wrangel Island has three mountain ranges, and the highest point is the mountain called Sovetskaya. Its height is 1096 meters. On the northern ridge, the terrain evenly passes into a plain covered with marshes. It is called the Academy Tundra.
The climate on the islands is arctic, there is mainly a predominance of arctic air masses, characterized by very low temperature conditions.During the summer period, warm air masses arrive, bringing moisture from the Bering Sea. Sometimes a cyclone comes from Siberia - with dust and dry air.
February is considered the coldest month. During this period, the temperature drops to minus twenty-five degrees, and in July comes the "heat" - plus 2.5 degrees Celsius. The average annual temperature is 11.3 degrees Celsius. The frosts recede only twenty-five days a year. Most of the precipitation occurs in winter. In winter, long winds are also typical, reaching speeds of forty meters per second, which makes the weather even colder and dank.
Tourism in the reserve
What is the twenty-first century without extreme tourism? Yes, that’s exactly what you can call all the available tourist routes through the reserve, although it’s possible to find tourists here only under the supervision and with written permission from the administration of the natural area. During a visit to the reserve, people are obliged to strictly adhere to all the rules of "Wrangel Islands" and the Chukotka Autonomous Region.
Each group moves only with the accompaniment of an employee of the protected area.If the tour is designed for several days, the group is placed in special guest houses. They are located on the local cordon called "Questionable", "Unexpected", "Red Flag", "Tundra Peak" and "Uering." Inspectors from government agencies live in the Ushakovskoye settlement in exactly the same guest houses, and in the summer months they are visited by employees of research institutes.
What to see?
Ecotourism prevails on the islands. It is presented both in land and in the sea, as a cruise. True, the latter is available only for a limited time, when the adjacent bays are filled with free water and it is possible to swim to the land on the ship. Tourists are always impressed by the Cape Bird Market, because there are countless countless colonial birds belonging to the marine species. Mainly on the cape you can see Moevoc gulls, Chistik, thick-billed Cirrus and bering cormorants. The rocks themselves are an expressive formation of sedimentary rocks.
Thanks to hiking routes, you can penetrate into the depths of the island’s existing ecosystem and touch the incredible beauty of the nature of this protected area.Of course, lovers of photography will come to the utmost delight, capturing the surrounding picturesque landscapes. But the most important thing is that against the background of the magnificence of the arctic high latitudes, polar bears, walruses, whales and even glaciers will flash.
In addition, there are historical monuments on the island, for example, you can get acquainted with history on an excursion to a hunting camp that was once laid out on the shores of Lake Komsomol. There is a building of a real hunting lodge, built in the typical style of the local infrastructure.
In the north-west of the Wrangel Island reserve there is a wonderful lagoon called Nanaun, the remains of a dugout built by the first pilgrims are located there. In the same part there are lemmings, arctic foxes, and the slopes of the Drem-Head ridge are inhabited by polar bears. Well, in the surrounding pastures walk musk oxen.
Of course, such a place can not be without mystical stories. The parking of paleoeskimos just fits this description. According to local beliefs, spirits live here - both good and evil. The parking lot is called “Devil's Ravine” and many mysterious legends are associated with it.The place itself is an excavation of the antiquity hunting camp, which was laid out here 3200 years ago. For their activities, people chose the “Devil's Ravine” for a reason, because there is an excellent overview of the area named after Krasin, where you can always get rich in the carcass or other of a marine mammal or bird.
With the onset of summer, walruses with seals are selected on the ice floes in the bay, polar bears emerge from their shelters, and in the last weeks of summer, on the horizon, in calm weather, you can see gigantic fountains that gray whales admit. For better contact with the local nature, it is best to take a tour of the west bank of the Goose. It is spontaneously ennobled by vegetation and is rich in herds of musk oxen, white owls, as well as foxes and lemmings.
On the island of Herald in the summer polar bears wander along the banks and rest, basking in the rare rays of the sun. Walruses swim there, and already known bird markets gather on the rocks.
Land Routes on Wrangel Island
There are nine routes in the reserve. All of them are recognized as ecological. So, let's look at what these tourist trips are:
- The 35-kilometer route, originating on the base of "doubtful". It passes through the “Devil's Ravine”, 180 meridians on the coast of Krasin Bay and returns to its original point. From the base to the mouth of the creek at the "Devil's Ravine" guests move on quad bikes, the rest of them are on foot. Season - from July to September.
- 21-kilometer route to the spit The doubtful group starts from the base of the same name. All movements on quad bikes or all-terrain vehicles. Season - from July 20 to October 1.
- The route passing through the cordon "Tundra Peak", originates from the base "Doubtful", where people immediately sit on all-terrain vehicles. End of the journey at Dreams Head or Nanaun Lagoon. This is quite a long journey, the length of which is one hundred kilometers. This route is recommended for tourists who are interested in both the animal and plant worlds, as well as those who have an idea of the Arctic field conditions. Season - from the first of August to the first of October. After the tenth of August, newly minted chicks, hatched in white owls and geese, are already beginning to try themselves in flight.
- A long route of one hundred and sixty kilometers originates at the base of “Dubious”, on an all-terrain vehicle the group follows the “Red Flag”, “Medium Unknown”, “Tundra Peak” cordons and the final point - “Dream Head”.Recommendations coincide with the third route. Season - from the first of August to the first of October.
- The third longest route is 350 kilometers. The points of visit are the following: Base "Dubious", "Unexpected", "Lower Goose", Cape Ptichy Bazar, Lake Komsomol, Dream-Head, cordons "Pund Tundra", "Medium Mammoth" and the end - the base "Dubious". An all-terrain vehicle is used and there is an age limit - tourists must be over fourteen years old.
- Two hundred and fifty kilometers will be covered on the route starting at the Doubtful Base and passing through the Unexpected Cordon, the Bird Bazaar Cape, the Gusina River, and the Tundra Peak Cordon. Season - from the first of August to September 15.
- The second longest route is 550 kilometers. The points through which the group moves on an all-terrain vehicle are the following: Doubtful base, Unexpected cordon, Sovetskaya river, Ptichiy Bazar cape, Komsomol cordon, Dorm Head, Tundra Peak cordons, Medium Unknown, “Red Flag”, Cape Waring, cordon “Red Flag” and completion are all in the same “Doubtful” base. Season coincides with the sixth route.
- Only fifty kilometers is the route from the Doubt base to the water area of Krasin Bay. Movement occurs on the "zodiac."Season - from the fifteenth of July to the thirtieth of September.
- The longest route along the water surface is 620 kilometers. His path runs along the ring around the island of Wrangel itself, calling at the Gulf of Herald Island. Season - from the fifteenth of August to the thirtieth of September.