Opening Asia for Russia

10.09.2019 104 просмотров

In our last publication, more attention was paid to the history of Wrangel Island - a legendary place on Earth that like a magnet attracts some desperate travelers and scientists. Below we will talk about the fauna of this mysterious and harsh region.

Today the reserve "Wrangel Island" is considered the northernmost of the reserves of the Far East of Russia. It was established back in Soviet times - in 1976. The island itself is a rare find for scientists, since its territories are distinguished by an exceptional biological diversity of species for the Arctic. No, it is not for nothing that it has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A unique autonomous system has been developing in conditions of complete isolation from the outside world for the past few tens of thousands of years. In the reserve, scientists have counted over 400 species of plants, about 170 species of birds, and on Herald Island, which also belongs to Wrangel Island, the world's largest concentration of polar bear birth dens has been recorded.

Polar cubs on Wrangel Island
Photo: twitter .com

It is believed that bears are not afraid of either frost or cold waters of the Arctic seas . No, this is not entirely true - extreme cold is dangerous for everyone. And if this is inevitable, then you need to properly prepare for the process. Therefore, from September to November, bears literally come to the island in droves to equip dens for themselves. Usually they equip their temporary shelters on the slopes of a mountainous area. They say that sometimes more than two hundred bear dwellings were found in deep snowdrifts. Maybe that's why Wrangel Island is called the "bear maternity hospital of the Arctic." In April, mothers with offspring wake up from a long hibernation and gradually leave the land that sheltered them. The whole family goes on a big journey - the cubs must learn all the delights of the Arctic life. It is more convenient to learn to catch seals from the ice. Mom actively helps them in this.

Musk oxen on Wrangel Island

Another attraction of the rarely friendly island is furry musk oxen. They look like giant brown bears that accidentally got lost in the vast expanses of the Arctic. Animals have long and thick hair, so they look more massive than they really are. They see perfectly in the dark, find food even deep under the snow. In fact, these animals once grazed along with mammoths in the meadows of the northern prairies. Then, however, they died. Everything is clear with mammoths - they have not been in this world for a long time, but musk oxen, which are also called musk oxen, have been preserved in icy Greenland. From there, earlier, several individuals were moved to Wrangel Island by people. Animals, it should be noted, felt themselves satisfactorily there - not only successfully endured wintering, but even managed to have offspring. Now the herd has grown noticeably in size. And why, in fact, these "living fossils" do not take root here? They have no natural enemies on the island, and there is no need to be afraid of hunters - the island is considered a nature reserve, there is only a place on it for a person with a camera and a movie camera. And he doesn't show up here very often. And no poacher or hunter with a gun!

Now, if musk oxen are ever resettled in Chukotka, then, perhaps, these animals will have to win their place under the sun, fighting wolves. But the polar strong men will probably not disappear there either: gloomy stag-daddies will stand in a circular defense, placing females and calves in a circle - go get to them! And they will stand like that, without moving, for days. Wolves run around, run, and then they will probably get tired of this activity, and they will go home - to look for other prey.

Reindeer on Wrangel Island
Photo: greenpeace .org

By the way, reindeer appeared in these parts after the development of the island man. In 1947, winterers brought several individuals to the island. They pursued quite mercantile goals - they used artiodactyls mainly as a means of transportation. But over time, some elk fled - went wild and, not having met the enemy in the face of the polar wolf, also multiplied surprisingly quickly, adapting to the local climate. These "northern mustangs" can now be found all over the island - including in the hinterland. Especially a lot of them gather there in autumn, when coastal life stops. Bird colonies become inaudible, bears fall asleep in dens, only musk oxen and deer sullenly trample in places protected from the piercing wind, picking reindeer moss with their hooves from time to time. Yes, rare snowy owls, left for the winter, occasionally rustle their wings at night in search of some mouse-like rodent - a lemming.


This motley animal is surprisingly tenacious. Finds food even under a deep layer of snow. Sometimes lemmings breed on the island so much - there was such a thing! - that unites in large columns and goes to the sea ... to drown. Scientists broke their heads over this mysterious phenomenon. They saw with their own eyes how the rodents threw themselves into the water and swam until their strength left them and they drowned. But a reasonable answer to this phenomenon has not been found - more and more conjectures and assumptions. But the birds and animals that inhabit the island - owls and gulls, crows and arctic foxes - do not feel any remorse. During this period, they arrange a real celebration of the stomach. What is there to say! Even bears go on a "mouse diet".

In the 16th century, an English captain who saw walruses - these largest animals of the Arctic, reaching a length of four meters and weighing about two tons -  made an entry in the ship's log: "The beast on earth is unprecedented and the appearance of the devil." In fact, the walrus, according to many scientists, is not as ferocious and scary as it looks outwardly. But neither a man nor a bear risks joking with him. And the walruses of Wrangel Island are considered the largest walruses on the planet. The average body length of males reaches 3 meters, and they weigh from 1.7 to 2 tons. But these are the largest individuals - on average, walruses weigh about a ton. Their tusks grow up to 80 centimeters - this is in males, while in females they are smaller - about 40 centimeters. Tusks are needed by walruses for various purposes - with their help they fight, climb onto the ice, punch holes in the thickness of the ice.

Wrangel Island walruses

Sensing danger, the old male walrus transforms, his eyes become bloodshot, his tusks menacingly rise, and the whole body of the animal, at first glance, seems to be fat and awkward, instantly turns into a solid lump of muscles. The roar is so fierce that any living creature's soul goes to the heels. And so the beast, in general, is harmless - you know, it is lying on its rookery, in a normal situation it worries only its own kind. And even then only in the mating season, when you have to fight with rivals for females. In the rest of the time, when the huge lump is not dozing, he is more concerned with the problem of his own food - he usually plows the bottom near the coast with tusks in search of shellfish. Then it crawls out onto land and drags its brownish-brown carcass to the chosen place, clearing the living space with it. And it works with its tusks like a bucket excavator - so much so that sometimes you only wonder how it manages not to cut through its creeping relatives, just as impressive and purposeful. Small fights, however, do happen, but usually skirmishes do not last long: in the wild, the law operates in all its glory - whoever is stronger is right.

It is also interesting to watch the walruses. These have no respect for anyone - neither to mothers, nor to large males, whose mighty fangs will make anyone alert. But just don't walrus! Cubs unceremoniously crawl over the carcasses of adults when they rush to the water. Some walruses groan with displeasure and, sometimes, slap a negligent cub with a flipper, but it seems that it does not react to this - sometimes it only grunts with displeasure and hurries on its way further.

Wrangel Island

The number of walruses on Wrangel Island reaches several thousand individuals. They live in colonies. Watching them from the side is a special pleasure. Especially for dense male walruses, which have not yet lost their strength. They behave like real usurpers. The whole life of the walrus colony is subject to a strict hierarchy. Sometimes local revolutions happen - one giant overthrows another, and power passes from one mastodon to another. The clash between them sometimes goes not a joke, to a lot of blood. It happens that the confrontation between males ends with the death of one of them. Leaders often fight to the death - for power, for the right to possess females ... In a word, almost like people, only everything happens more straightforwardly and frankly, without falsehood and lies, or something. Some winterers tell stories in which walruses act as bear abusers. Hungry bears forget about elementary caution. You can pay a lot for this! So you will think about who is the real owner of the Arctic - a walrus or a polar bear?



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