Wrangel Island actually unites two islands in water areas of the Chukchi Sea – Wrangel and Gerald. These lands are reserved and it’s difficult to approach them.
The way from the continent to Wrangel Island takes days through the lands without ice and even more time on lands that covered by ice. Once islands were Beringiya’s part the isthmus, in the most ancient times connecting Asia and America.
Wrangel Island in History
Long time these desert northern islands remained the disputed territory for which both Canadians, and Americans applied, and Russian until they were staked out at last by the USSR.
After that on islands have appeared the village, reindeer-breeding collective farm, military bases, a frontier post. In 1976 has been formed the reserve which unlike all the rest fortunately, exists and for today.
Eskimos are considered as indigenous people of islands: on Wrangel Island their paleo-dwelling site is found, most likely, they didn’t live here, and only used the place as a hunting camp.
The most valuable on islands was Arctic ecosystem and the reserve make a protection of it. Wrangel Island differs in a variety of the Arctic landscapes, relic flora and fauna. About 3700 years ago there was population of dwarfish mammoths, and today’s representatives of beringiysky megafauna are polar bears Wrangel Island call “maternity hospital” for these bears.
Sometimes on islands throws out whales. Besides, here is several unique animal species and birds. White geese form the largest colony in Eurasia on Wrangel Island. Snowy owls fly every summer and annually steadily breed; the exception is made by years with very small number of lemmings owls eat them. On the number of lemmings influences also polar foxes who breed on Wrangel Island too.
Life on Island
Life on islands and remains today seasonal. All scientific work is carried out in the summer, personnel of scientific department and scientists come for the spring, summer and fall. There comes in the winter polar night during which the majority of animals leave on ice, and all birds with rare exception fly away. Bears live on ices all winter. If a year is good and on the island a lot of lemmings – polar foxes can remain on the island.
Species of plants in the territory of the reserve are more than two times more, than in similar territories of the same size. On Wrangel Island it is possible to observe interesting processes of interaction between types and developments of the Arctic ecosystems.
Special ecological importance of these places has been fixed legislatively in 1976 when Wrangel Island and Herald Island have received the status of the first Arctic reserve in the USSR. In 2004 they have been included in the list of objects of the world heritage UNESCO.
Today polar bears remain the real owners of reserved islands. Bears in habitat the main factor which attracts on islands of scientific and extreme tourists. The combination of rest and safety creates rather comfortable life for bears. Whether it is worth reminding that a bear a huge and dangerous predator, at the same time he is very curious and very careful.
Of course the person is responsible for safety of a bear, and the person in habitats of the white giant. For this purpose after many years of studying of behavior of polar bears has been developed the technique of their scaring away without weapon.
To reach these lands extremely difficult, and visit is possible only accompanied by specialists, with observance of all rules and security measures here walking a real polar bears, and the meeting with them is deadly. We will remind that hunting for polar bears is forbidden since 1957.
The trip on islands demands not only enthusiasm, but also serious financial investments. Those at whom is both just employ the helicopter from Pevek and will organize to themselves individual rounds. For the ordinary person there is a way to get to Wrangel Island too occasionally tourist vessels go there. Now it is three flights a year about 350 people. The continent reach usually through Moscow or through Khabarovsk.
Photo by Sergey Anisimov (Russia)