On December 8 and 9 of 2021 there was online workshop “The development of sustainable cruise industry in the Pacific Arctic: Past developments and future prospects”
Here one can see list of participants, organizations, presentation materials etc.
A fabulous polar night
Now the sun has already gone below the horizon at Wrangel Island Reserve and there will be no sunlight until about January 22. Now is the time of the polar night. The polar night is a mysterious and unique natural phenomenon. It takes place at a certain moment every year. When the angle of the rotation axis of the planet Earth changes about 23.5° to the plane of the circle, in which the Sun moves during one calendar year.
For several days, after the Sun had disappeared below the horizon by lunchtime, the crimson sky was burning brightly and bursting with some fantastic brilliance, coloring the clouds in a variety of colors, from scarlet to bright orange. But very quickly, in the afternoon, the reminders of the proximity of the sun faded away.
Now it came time for the dusk.
During this time, the island is illuminated only by the moon, and when there is no moon or clouds in the sky, the northern lights blaze. It is the most amazing thing you can see in the Arctic. Even those who have seen it more than once cannot pass up the opportunity to enjoy it again and again. No camera or video camera can capture the nature of the magical lights.
No wonder, that the northern peoples call this natural phenomenon very poetic names such as "fox lights" or "aurora." But the most beautiful name is "the light that can be heard." Such magic is worth travelling to the world' s edge to watch the polar lights shimmering and flickering in the sky on a polar night, disappearing in one place, then emerging in another to illuminate the earth in an inexpressibly beautiful way.
For a person accustomed to the regular change of day and night, the polar night at first appears to be quite new and unusual. It does not always affect people positively, but for our state inspectors it is not an obstacle. With the coming of the long polar night, mysterious shimmers of sparks in the sky, heavy frost and other charms of the Arctic regions, there come hard times, both for animals and for the reserve's staff, who stay for the winter on the island. But all these difficulties do not disturb the way of life and work of our polar explorers .They get up and eat according to the schedule, fulfill their duties and so keep on working on the island.
Фото: Александр Груздев
Development of Educational Tourism in the Pacific Arctic
On December 8-9, 2021 a two-day online seminar titled "The Sustainable Development of Cruise Tourism in the Pacific Arctic: Past experience and Future prospects". Alexander Gruzdev, Director of the Wrangel Island Reserve, made a report on the " Development of Educational Tourism on the Territory of the Wrangel Island Natural Complex and Cooperation with Cruise Tour Operators".
The seminar was organized in cooperation with the 12th open seminar of the Japan Arctic Research Network Center (J-ARC Net), the platform for human resource development of Japan-Russia Economic Cooperation and Personnel Exchange (HaRP), Japanese National Project of Hokkaido University Center for Arctic Research (Arctic Challenge for Sustainability II) and a thematic network on the Arctic in Asia(UArctic).
The online seminar focused on developing cooperation among researchers, authorities, private companies, and non-governmental organizations interested in the economic, ecological, and socially sustainable development of the Arctic and responsible cruise tourism on land and sea, including Hokkaido and Russia - Far East and Arctic, Sea of Okhotsk, North Pacific, Bering Sea, and Chukchi Sea.
Learn more about the online seminar "Sustainable Development of Cruise Tourism in the Pacific Arctic: past experience and future prospects" at the link...
The Memorandum of Understanding
On 8 December 2021, Kytalyk National Park (Russia) and Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve (PRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Cooperation between the Siberian Crane and Other Migratory Birds Nesting and Wintering Areas.
The document was signed in Yakutsk on the business platform of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the presence of representatives of Russia, China and the USA.
On the Russian side, the Memorandum was signed by Alexander Gruzdev, Director of the Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve, who also manages the Kytalyk National Park. On the Chinese side, it was Mr. Xu Zhiwen, Director of the Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve.
Alexander Gruzdev thanked the staff of the Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve for their great contribution to the protection and management of precious wetlands for hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl.
The Arctic: the Present and the Future
From December 2 to 4, 2021 Saint-Petersburg hosted the 11th International Forum "Arctic: the Present and the Future", which is one of the key platforms to discuss challenges and prospects for the development of the Arctic region of Russia. Alexander Gruzdev, Director of the Wrangel Island Reserve, took part in the Forum.
The program included 2 plenary sessions, and 52 discussion platforms, dealing with the aims and main trends of the state and social policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic, economy, infrastructure, science and technology, environment, international cooperation, integrated safety of the Arctic region and development of creative industries. The results of Russia's chairmanship in the Arctic Council for 2021 were summarized. More than 400 speakers made presentations at the sessions, and more than 2,500 participants from 40 regions of Russia attended both in person and distant format. A large-scale exhibition was set up at the Forum. The Arctic regions, companies, departments and institutions presented their achievements, projects and technologies.
During the Forum the questions of remediation measures of accumulated environmental damage in the Arctic, mechanisms of optimization of the northern deliveries and organization of year-round navigation in the whole water area of the Northern Sea Route were discussed. Also, a number of agreements was signed within the framework of the Forum.
The outcome of the Forum will be a resolution that will collect the initiatives of the participants . It will be sent to the relevant authorities to improve legislation and state regulation in the sphere of sustainable development of the Arctic.
The Forum is held under the aegis of the Association of Polar Explorers of Russia, headed by A.N. Chilingarov, and is a logical follow-up to the conference "The Arctic: Territory of Friendship and Cooperation", which was successfully held in 2011 with the support of the Saint Petersburg Government and the companies Arcticmorgeo and Neftegazmontazhservis.
The main goal of the 2012 Forum is to find and propose solutions for integrated management of the development of Russia's Arctic region.
Every year on November 24 the Day of the Walrus is celebrated in Russia. The thematic holiday was established in 2008. The idea of creating this day was initiated by the Marine Mammals Council and the World Wildlife Fund in order to attract public attention to the ecological problems causing the reduction of the number of the species.
In the Reserve Wrangel Island since 1989, annual surveys of walruses, both on the ice and on shore rookeries are conducted. The shores of Wrangel Island are the main habitats for sea giants.
In spring, after wintering in the pack ice of the Bering Sea, walruses begin to move north following the edge of melting ice. Most adult males stay at their rookeries in the Bering Sea, while females and juveniles pass through the Bering Strait and reach the surrounding areas of Wrangel and Herald Islands by midsummer. In the coastal shallows they feed on mollusks and other marine invertebrates as well.
In October and November, walruses leave the Arctic coast of the Chukchi Sea and migrate to the Bering Strait for wintering. During their migration they become especially vulnerable and need protection.
Walruses are the largest pinnipeds living in the Northern Hemisphere: they are second in size only to sea elephants. The body length of males ranges from 2.5 to 4 meters, and the weight of these giants can reach the weight of a good SUV.
Two main subspecies of walruses are the Pacific and the Atlantic ones. The isolation of the Laptev walrus is a controversial issue. Experts, based on DNA studies, consider it to be the western population of the Pacific subspecies.
Wild and domestic - all so important
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), three species of animals disappear on Earth every hour , 70 species of flora and fauna disappear every day, and a quarter of all flora and fauna species will die out in the nearest future . Over the last quarter century, the Earth's biodiversity has decreased by a third.
In order to increase public awareness of the need to protect the environment and increase activity in animal protection, World Animal Protection Day is celebrated annually on October 4. Another important conservation mechanisms for rare and endangered animal species is the netting of the networks of Specially Protected Natural Areas (SPAs) and the Red Book of the Russian Federation. Today there are more than 400 species in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and, unfortunately, this number is constantly growing.
A number of environmental education events were dedicated to World Animal Protection Day in the Reserve. The Information Center held several thematic meetings. The guests did not only get acquainted with the unique flora and fauna, but also learned about the history of discovery and exploration of Wrangel Island and the scientific research in the Reserve.
What can each of us do? First of all, treat wildlife habitats with care and respect. That is, do not light fires in inappropriate places, take away all garbage, help nature reserves and national parks, involve children and adults into conservation projects.
For preschoolers of Golden Key kindergarten and schoolchildren of Education Center of Pevek the head of environmental education Ekaterina Artamonova held events on protected fauna. The children told about their favorite pets and got acquainted with the Reserve inhabitants and expanded their knowledge about the diversity of the animal world and about what red-listed animals should be especially protected in Russia and in Chukotka.
Dear friends and colleagues!
Today, on the 5th of June, we namely conservationists, environmental experts, public figures and environmental activists, celebrate our professional holiday!
It is important that the main holiday of the Russian ecologists actually coincides with the World Environment Day. Both holidays remind all inhabitants of the planet Earth of the necessity to live in harmony with the nature and to protect the environment.
The staff of State Nature Reserve УWrangel IslandФ congratulates on the Day of the Ecologist the people, whose professional or pubic activity is connected with the protection of the nature. On this day, weТd like to thank all activists as well as guests of especially protected natural territories for your support, caring and concern. It is thanks to our joint efforts to preserve life on the planet, to save its resources and richness, unite all the humanity through a common idea of caring for the environment, that we can be optimistic about the future of our planet. We do hope that weТll be able to pass on the natural heritage, including natural diversity, to our descendants!
Congratulations to our colleagues on the Day of Polar Explorer!
On May 21, Russia celebrates a professional holiday, the All-Russian Polar Explorer Day. In 2013, the corresponding decree was signed by Russian President,
Vladimir Putin, to recognize the great contribution of the citizens who has worked at the North and South Poles, in the exploration of the northern regions. The date was chosen in memory of launching of the high-latitude polar expedition "North Pole 1", which had taken place on May 21, 1937
"This holiday is our tribute to the recognition of outstanding merits of representatives of various professions who have devoted their lives to the development of the Arctic and the Antarctic. Many generations of courageous people, people of strong spiritЧ scientists, geologists, builders, sailors, pilots Ч have selflessly served the Fatherland. It is their heroic constructive labour that glorified our country as a great polar power, " Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, said.
Today we are honoring the brave pioneers, conquerors of the most severe and faraway lands, men and women, who have devoted themselves to their work and vocation. First of all, we should remember Georgy Ushakov, a well-known polar explorer and the first chief of the Wrangel Island. Georgy Alekseevich Ushakov had arrived in the Arctic in the mid-twenties and devoted the whole life to the research of the Arctic. He headed both the expeditions to the Wrangel Island and to the Severnaya Zemlya. The latter was even undiscovered at that time. He also was authorized by the government commission to rescue the Chelyuskintsy and was the head of the first high-latitude expedition on the icebreaker steamer Sadko.
Photos from the archive of the reserve were provided by the family of the polar explorer and the first chief of the Wrangel Island , G. A. Ushakov.
The Reserve congratulates all war veterans and all Russians on the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory!
May 9, 2020 is the day of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory over fascist Germany.Our dear veterans, home front workers and all those who have passed the hard roads of the Great Patriotic War! On this day, that is happy and bright for each of us, we would like to express our most sincere words of respect and gratitude to you.
Paying tribute to the memory of the fallen front-line soldiers and the veterans who passed away, honoring those who are alive now, we realize that it was thanks to their heroism and courage on the front line, and selfless work in the rear that Victory was achieved. May 9 is the national and most touching holiday in Russia indeed. The great date unites all of us, regardless of religion, nationality, political or other affiliation.
Dear veterans! On this festive day, please accept the words of congratulations and most sincere wishes of health, cheerfulness, longevity to you and your close people. May each of you be surrounded with the attention, care and love of your dear people!
Ecotourism in the Reserve "Wrangel Island"
Due to coronavirus restrictions the access to the Reserve "Wrangel Island" was closed to tourists last year. In 2021, only Russian travelers were not affected by the restrictions and 119 tourists visited the Reserve. In August, the expedition vessel "Professor Khromov" twice entered the water area of the Reserve and twice, in September, it was the ice-class yacht "Bazilevs".
The Reserve's tourist programs, did not leave guests indifferent to the nature of Russia's most northern reserve. Organized landings at local points and trips around the island allowed tourists to see amazing representatives of Arctic flora and fauna. The geographical remoteness, as well as the practical impossibility of getting to the Reserve on their own, contribute to the quiet course of natural processes, where man is a rare guest, who does not cause any disturbances.
Everyone who comes to "Wrangel Island", will see the king of the Arctic - a polar bear, peacefully sleeping on the black rocks, or wandering in search of food on the shore. This year, we could see almost all the representatives of marine mammals of the protected island. The main thing is not to take away the binoculars and keep the camera ready. Gray and humpback whales, walruses, seals, sea colonial birds nesting in some of Chukotka's largest bird colonies were in the program of the 2021 tourist season.
We remind that eco-tourism and related activities, such as the sale of souvenirs, is a significant material support, a good opportunity to attract extra-budgetary funds, without harming nature. The money that the Reserve gets from each tourist and the book they buy is spent on the development of such areas as protection of the territory, by purchasing equipment and accessories, helping to expand scientific projects, providing specialists with the latest equipment for monitoring and data analysis, helping to attract new specialists, increasing the wage fund.
A new field season lies ahead. Next year we are waiting for new guests of "Wrangel Island" and we are already starting to prepare for their reception, accepting and processing applications from tourist agents.
Prizewinners from the Ryazan Region received gifts!
This year, children not only from the Chukotka Autonomous District, but also from the Ryazan Region took part in the Parks March competitions. Students from Klepikovo School sent their drawings to the Reserve and won prizes!
1st place - Polina Starkova, 10 years old / Reindeer of the North.
2nd place - Maria Sevostyanova, 10 years old / The Fox and the Fox Cub.
Children were unable to come to the award ceremony, due to complicated logistics. But finally, the prizes came. Congratulations to the winners once again! We are waiting for new works!
Learn about wild nature of the Reserve "Wrangel Island", take part in our contests and get your prizes!!!
New contests start in the Reserve "Wrangel Island"!
New contests start in the Reserve "Wrangel Island"!
Participants must create a postcard with New Year (Christmas) attributes and, of course, any inhabitant of the Reserve. The best cards will be published and become the Reserve's New Year's greeting card.
2. The Contest "Protected Characters"
We accept drawn characters from nature reserves to be the heroes of our website, namely the children's page. The winning characters will tell about the reserve, about the life of the inhabitants, play games and quizzes with the young friends.
Draw any of the protected inhabitants. It can be a character or several ones. You can draw them in one pose or two or three: sitting, lying, or standing, for example. It all depends on your imagination. We just want your creativity and talent!
The participant can be anyone from Russia or abroad from the age of 7 years old. You can participate on your own or as a team. Proposals are accepted until December 25, 2021 by mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with a note "for environmental education department". Winners will be announced at the end of 2021. More information about the Contest is in our Regulations.
All participants whose works meet the requirements of the Contest will receive electronic diplomas for participation. Winners will be awarded with diplomas and memorable souvenirs.
If you have any questions, please call: 8 (42737) 4 15 12 or email: email@example.com.
Don't miss the moment to be the author of an interactive character for the Reserve "Wrangel Island"!
Take care of your planet!
The Earth is our home. Man and nature are the one, indivisible whole. People cannot live without nature. Nature has everything they need for life. Therefore, every person on the Earth should treat their home with care and concern, preserving and protecting its treasures and resources.
For children from the kindergarten "Golden Key" of the ecological club "Rodnichok" the teacher Natalia Bakumenko and the Head of Environmental Education of the Reserve Wrangel Ekaterina Artamonova held a themed event "Take Care of Your Planet".
At the event children learned how to protect the nature and resources of the planet, what impact people have on the environment and what we must do to save our common home, the planet Earth. The children got acquainted with the environmental rules, learned that waste can be used for good, and that their careful attitude and sometimes insignificant help can save nature.
Erysimum pallasii as a living monument
There are rare monuments in the Arctic, erected in honor of conquering hard-to-reach peaks, in honor of famous polar explorers. A great deal has been written about these monuments. It is also written about other monuments to scientists and researchers - monuments in the form of toponymic monuments. These are monuments in the form of geographic names in honor of honored people. For example, the Arctic islands of Ushakov, Shokalsky, Vilnitsky, Schmidt, etc.
There is one more group of monuments which is less written about, and not everyone knows about them. This group of monuments are named bionyms, i.e. plants named after scientists who had some relation to the discovery or study of these organisms. Many similar monuments to scientists or bionyms can be found in the Arctic. The knowledge about some unremarkable plant in the North, which is also a living monument to a scientist, will help increase the authority of the plant and expand the outlook of the Arctic residents. The name of the academician, the famous historian Peter Simon Pallas (1741 - 1811) is widely known to historians. But his name deserves the grateful memory not only from historians, but also from geographers and botanists. Having made many travels in Siberia and the North, he not only personally studied many archives, found and for the first time published many valuable historical documents. He knew how to find and, speaking in modern language, "present" various plants. One of the species from the cruciferous family is named after Pallas (Erysimum pallasii ). The researcher noted that in the North of Russia, two of the three species of erysimum were weeds in the Arctic.It is the only native representative of the genus Erysimum. The species is distinguished by its rather large, purplish-pink petals and flattened pods.It is a characteristic plant of Arctic Siberia and neighbouring mountainous areas, occurring frequently, in small quantities on dry rubbly and rocky places.
The species grows on Wrangel Island and belongs to the category of medicinal plants. Its above-ground part contains a huge number of useful substances required for the proper functioning of all vital organs and systems, including glycosides, organic acids and flavonoids.
Photo: Ulyana Babiy
The Polar Bear Universe
The International Conference "Polar Bear Universe", in which Russian and American scientists participated, was held in Chukotka on September 28-30. The participants discussed the priorities of polar bear research on the Alaska-Chukotka border, the logistics of the polar bear cubs rescue, the interaction of these predators with humans, the results of bear patrols in the region and many other topics.
At the conference, Amirkhan Amirkhanov, Deputy Head of Rosprirodnadzor, said that the Ministry of Natural Resources was developing a polar bear strategy, which would be adopted by the end of the year. He stated that the strategy and other materials on polar bear conservation would be the main guiding documents until at least 2030.
During the conference, they also heard reports on recent advances in the study of the Chukotka-Alaska polar bear population, on the analysis of new biological data, on changes in range boundaries due to climatic fluctuations, as well as new information and advances in the management, control, resource management and traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous peoples of the Arctic on this animal.
On the basis of these reports and other information, a scientific working group formulated recommendations for the Russian-American Commission.
Photo: Dietmar Manfred Reisch
World Tourism Day is celebrated annually on September 27
This date was chosen in honor of the adoption of the Charter of the World Tourism Organization in 1970. Besides, the date has a symbolic meaning. It is in late September that the tourist season in the northern hemisphere comes to the end, and it opens in the southern hemisphere. Eco-tourism is now one of the most promising ways of the rational environmental management.
This type of tourism involves not only visiting intact natural areas, but also studying their characteristics as well as active participation in the preservation of fauna and flora.The unique natural and cultural heritage attracts people of different ages and interests to the North. The young are ready to test their strength and endurance in the harsh conditions of the Arctic, people of the third age are eager to expand their knowledge about the world.
Wrangel Island is an extraordinary place with a unique geographical location, rich history and a great number of other advantages for true travelers. For those who are ready to sacrifice the comfort of a fashionable resort hotel for the sake of this wonderful land, who bravely facing the difficulties, the protected island reveals its beauty.
Tourists are much attracted by the boundless snow-covered horizons of the Arctic, the pristine Arctic nature. They are told and lectured on the geology and biology, history and geography of the Reserve and the Arctic itself. Tourists crossing the boundless ice expanses see with their own eyes everything they are told and are struck by the fragile beauty of the Arctic nature.
This year the Reserve hosted twice the Russian ship Professor Khromov and twice the Russian yacht Bazilevs. Although it was a very difficult year in terms of ice conditions, especially by the end of August. Despite that all the tourists still made it to the protected island. Each group of tourists was greatly impressed by the cold island and received a huge charge of energy, reinforced by the warm welcome of the staff.
The team of the reserve Wrangel Island congratulates dear friends with the holiday! We look forward to seeing fans of ecological and educational tourism! See you in the Arctic in 2022!
An Invisible Protector
If you have ever had sunburn, then you have been exposed to aggressive UV radiation. To protect ourselves from UV rays, we most often use sunscreen. And for our planet, the ozone layer plays the role of sunscreen. Without this "cream", there would be nothing on Earth left alive.
The ozone layer functions as the Earth's natural shield and saves mankind from ultraviolet radiation. In comparison with other spheres of the Earth, the ozone layer is the thinnest shell and is about 3mm thick. It only lets in about 3% of the UV rays that are necessary for the human body as they stimulate the production of vitamin D. But when these rays become too many, they can cause irreparable damage to all living creatures. At the very least, it can cause burns on the human body.
For many decades, people have not even been aware of the existence of the ozone layer. Thus, the ozone layer was harmfully affected, and eventually the layer was thinning and the ozone holes appeared. The most important destroyers are emissions of various freons in the air, chlorine and hydrogen. Because of the increased temperature in the aerosols, freons start to decompose. As you know, CFCs are widely used in cooling equipment: refrigerators and air conditioners. When freons rise into the atmosphere, chlorine is released, causing a transformation reaction from ozone to oxygen. Scientists have been sounding the alarm about the destruction of the ozone layer since the 20th century. On September 16, 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances Depleting the Ozone Layer was signed. In honor of this event the International Day for the Ozone Layer Protection was established. Many different conventions and agreements were signed to reduce the production of freons. Freon is partially replaced with propane-butane. This substance is a worthy analogue and can be used where necessary.
If our "invisible protector" transmits many times more ultraviolet radiation to the Earth, plankton in the oceans could die and, consequently, fish resources could decrease. Also, ultraviolet radiation could have an adverse effect on plant growth, leading to a complete agrarian withering. Cancer will steadily increase, as well as DNA mutations. Ecologists note that the planet's ozone shield is recovering by 1-3% per decade. But people themselves can also influence the ozone layer's integrity, starting with the use of clean fuels, conservation of the earth's resources and proper disposal of hazardous waste, which would play a significant role in saving the Earth. If the prognosis is сorrect, ozone layers could disappear all over the planet by 2060.
The amazing cranes
Every year on the second Sunday of September, World Crane Day is celebrated. Crane Day was first celebrated in 2002 in the USA. The date was chosen in honor of a remarkable and very positive event. In the campaign for the rescue of the disappearing species of the American Crane, ecological scientists placed its eggs in the nests of cranes of other species, which then left for safe nesting places.
But the first ancestors of these beautiful birds appeared at the time of dinosaurs, about 40-60 million years ago. The historical home of cranes is considered to be North America. It was from there that they migrated first to Asia, and then to Africa and Australia. Now cranes are widespread throughout the world, with the exception of two continents. If you would like to know which continents cranes are not found on and to learn more about these amazing birds, we invite you to take our quiz "Meet the cranes" without leaving home! Answer the questions and learn lots of new and interesting facts about crane life!
"Nornickel" will provide finance for activities to conserve the Polar Bear population
At the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the company's Vice President, Andrey Grachyov, reported that in the near future the company would sign an agreement with Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources on the conservation of "the Master of the Arctic".
According to Grachyov, the public and private partnership will be focused on the conservation and monitoring of the polar bear population, as well as scientific and educational measures. The agreement would be signed as part of the implementation of the federal project "Conservation of Biological Diversity and the Development of Ecotourism" of the national project "Ecology".
Both alike and different
It has been noted for a long time that there are two species of white geese migrating to Wrangel Island, with reddish and white heads as well. Meanwhile, both species do not differ, including genetics, except for their coloration. Soviet ornithologists have been plagued by this "colour" mystery for a long time.
At first scientists assumed that it was the breeding colour that made a difference. However, both "white-faced" and "red-faced " birds proved to be equally successful at making mating pairs. Then scientists hypothesized that colour was related to dominance. Observations showed, however, that predominants had no connection with the head colour.
Only after white geese had been tagged with individually coded plastic neck rings, in order to identify their migration routes, our scientists, together with American colleagues, determined exactly the reason for this colouration. The birds, which winter in California and spend most of their time in the fields, come flying to the island uncoloured. Another group of birds spending winters in the salty water of marshy seashores return to the island with a thin coating on their feathers. It has much to do with their feeding habits, as muddy sediments accumulate iron oxide. So the white covert on the head turns ochre.
The Atlantic puffin /The horned puffins/ The tufted puffins
Often these birds are compared to parrots for their bizarre beaks with bright horny plates and they all are simply called puffins. But let's figure out what they really are and how to distinguish them?
Horned puffins, tufted puffins and Atlantic puffins look very similar to each other. But these are three different species of seabirds and with some features of appearance and spreading, they can be easily distinguished.
Atlantic puffins are inhabitants of the coastal (shelf) seas of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. They are very similar to horned puffins, but the beak coloration is different. It is bluish-grey with dermal outgrowths called cilia. The bird prefers areas with soft soil suitable for digging burrows. As a rule, it nests in burrows of 1 to 3 m in length. Sometimes there may be several nesting chambers in a burrow, which the birds use in different years.
Horned puffins inhabit the northern Pacific Ocean. They nest colonially on cliffs, not in burrows but in rock clefts. They are similar to Atlantic puffins, but larger and their main distinguishing feature is the presence of cilias and a predominantly yellow beak at the base, changing to a deep orange-red colour at the end of the beak. Atlantic puffins are difficult to confuse with horned puffins, probably only in the photo, as they do not cross paths in nature. Actually, Atlantic puffins are common on the northern shores of the Atlantic, and horned puffins live in the Far East.
Tufted puffins are also inhabitants of the North Pacific Ocean. They differ from horned puffins by their bright orange-red beak and black belly, and their body is covered with black feathers. Another notable feature of the summer breeding dress of puffins is a white mask and yellow plaits of feathers on the sides of the head. In winter they get rid of their fancy make-up and hairdo and wear a modest black dress.
Spectacular horned puffins and tufted puffins arrive at the bird colonies of Wrangel Island Nature Reserve in the second half of June and immediately start nesting. It's important that snow has melted by the time of their arrival, otherwise birds won't have enough time to breed before the autumn frost. This is especially true for tufted puffins which have the strictest time frames. It takes them a month and a half to incubate chicks, but parents also must feed their babies. So, the tufted puffin nests on islands only in years with little snow, when the snow melts early. The horned puffin needs less time and has more opportunities to fit to a tight nesting schedule.
Long-awaited cargo arrives at Wrangel Island Nature Reserve
As early as May the whole process of shipment formation for the navigation period was in full swing. So, the two-month rush for everything necessary and important for life on the reserve island is over now. The final cargo was loaded almost immediately into a container and sent to the ship board. What the reserve was looking forward to from the Arctic navigation was new machinery, equipment, food, wind generators and caravan houses. Finally, the cargo has been received. Now, the only thing to do is to unpack and install it all.
The caravans will replace the old and dilapidated ones, and the new wind generators will help the reserve with providing energy on the island. Most equipment was obtained through a grant from WWF.
Only a small part of the loads is in the picture. Actually, the container was fully loaded and some cargo had to be transported by another ship.
We would like to thank SOVFRAHT, the Arctic Shipping Company, for their help in delivering supplies to the remote Arctic island of Wrangel.
After a year of coronavirus restrictions, Wrangel Island Nature Reserve welcomes tourists
This year the tourist season started on August 7. And the first tourists to reach Wrangel Island happen to be our countrymen. The expedition vessel Professor Khromov had overcome the ice field on the way to the island, and the group landed on the shore.
One part of the group set off on a route around the island, from Somnitelnaya Bay to Nanauna Bay. The other group returned to the ship and made a round trip around the water area on the ship, with landings at local points. The tourists visited some bird colonies, admired ringed seal hunting in Draghi Bay, drifted in permissible distance from walruses and of course watched polar bears.
The most unusual thing to observe was the group of six whales of different species. For four days the participants of the amazing trip were imbued with interest for the reserve, enjoyed a great energy charge from the cold island and a warm welcome from the staff. Every day discussions broke out, experiences were shared and lectures were held. So the visitors learned a lot about such a small but so different island of Wrangel. This Arctic voyage will surely remain in the memory of our travelers for years to come.
We are happy that tourists are returning to the Arctic and we look forward to welcoming visitors from abroad to our protected area. Thank you for your interest and desire to explore the fragile nature of our remote polar island!
Photo by: Leonid Zayka
July is a month of great joy and the beginning of big chores
At the time chicks on the protected areas hatch and their parents have to do all they can to nurse the babies and teach them to feed and find food.
At the end of June and beginning of July the chicks break through the shell and hatch. The newly hatched goslings quickly become independent. Having dried off, at the age of 2-3 hours the chicks can already walk on their own. Although they are born at practically the same time, it is several hours that separate the "older" from the "younger" chicks.
Those that have already hatched are bored sitting under their mother and need to come out for a walk. If it gets cold, they want to come back inside. It's too close and hot under the wing, and they want to get out again. And so it happens several times, the chicks annoy the goose. One day after hatching, the family leaves the nest and the parents take the chicks away from the colony to the Academy Tundra, a plain in the north of the island, which is rich in forage grounds and has a large number of lakes.
The Snowy Owl begins incubating a clutch as soon as it lays its first egg. The owlets hatch in the same sequence, approximately each two days. Therefore, the difference between the oldest and youngest owls can be very large.
While the owlets are still small, the female tears up the prey and offers the chicks small pieces of meat. But owlets grow quickly and soon they can swallow a whole lemming on their own.
The Snow Bunting's chicks hatch blind, almost naked and constantly hungry, requiring continuous care. The parents in turn bring various insects as food to the babies. A diet of protein ensures that the chicks grow quickly, but until the brood has fledged, the chicks will be begging for food, keeping their parents restless.
Two fires were put out in Kytalyk National Park in Yakutia
The national park "Kytalyk" staff found two natural fires in the area of lakes Symytyr and Sinniges-Kuel . The distance between them was about 5 kilometers. The fire was apparently caused by the long-term hot weather as well as dry thunderstorms.
State inspectors carried out operations on localization of thermal points with the use of fire-fighting backpacks and spades.
The fire was completely localized on July 8, mainly by the efforts of the national park staff. Also, due to precipitation in the form of rains and the falling of the ambient temperature. The total area of the damage caused by the fire is 350 hectares.
One of the last mammoths could not smell flowers
The majority of woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) became extinct at the end of the last Ice Age, but small isolated populations were able to survive longer. The woolly mammoths from Wrangel Island were among the last individuals of the species on the planet. In fact, they outlived their mainland relatives by 6,000 years. They survived longer than others due to their isolation, though the same factor resulted in the lack of genetic diversity, leading to numerous problems related to inbreeding.
The scientists from the State University of New York (Buffalo) have identified a number of harmful mutations in the mammoth from Wrangel Island that caused various behavioral and developmental disorders. Those mutations included diabetes, decreased male fertility and the inability to smell flowers.
According to the scientists, the mammoth population on Wrangel Island was constantly decreasing, thus leading to a large amount of inbreeding among distant relatives. These things usually cause accumulations of genetic defects and diseases, that most likely contributed to the extinction of the animals.
Source in russian
A unique Bumblebee species of the Ice Age discovered on Wrangel Island
The scientists from Arkhangelsk identified bumblebees inhabiting Wrangel Island (the eastern segment of the Asian Arctic) by deciphering some part of their genome. The analysis showed that it was Bombus glacialis (glacial bumblebee).Its population had been previously discovered on the Novaya Zemlya and was considered to be the only one on the planet.
The glacial bumblebee, which inhabits the Novaya Zemlya, was first described in 1902. For a long time, it posed a big mystery for entomologists. As they didn’t know, whether it was a new species or a differently colored subspecies , that of island race, namely of the mainland bumblebee known as Bombus lapponicus. The scientists from the Federal Research Center for Integrated Arctic Studies of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Northern (Arctic) Federal University (Arkhangelsk) managed to find the glacial bumblebee on Yuzhny ( South) island of the Novaya Zemlya. In 2017, its genome was decoded. The DNA analysis revealed that it was Bombus glacialis.
A similar discovery was made by Mikhail Berezin, head of the Entomology Department of the Moscow Zoo on the territory of the Reserve. Then he handed over the collected samples to the biologists of the Federal Research Center for Integrated Arctic Studies of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "On the basis of the results of genetic analysis, during which several nuclear and mitochondrial genes had been deciphered, we came to the conclusion that the Wrangel bumblebee is a separate population of Bombus glacialis".
"It is not only geographically and genetically isolated from the Novozemelskaya population, but also morphologically," said Ivan Bolotov, director of the Federal Research Center for Integrated Arctic Studies of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
"The bumblebee from Novaya Zemlya and that of Wrangel Island have some minor differences in coloration. The Wrangel bumblebee has lighter colored parts of its abdomen and breast," notes Grigory Potapov, a young scientist from Arkhangelsk, a leading researcher at the Laboratory of Artic Forest Ecosystems the Federal Research Center for Integrated Arctic Studies of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Science.
"So we identified the Wrangel population of Bombus glacialis as a separate subspecies on the basis of genetic differences and geographical isolation."
The discovered subspecies is named in memory of Marina Vladimirovna Podbolotskaya (Bombus glacialis marinae ssp.), a zoology teacher at Pomorsky State University.
Scientists note that the species is unique. Genetically it differs from all mainland species. It is assumed that in earlier geological eras, the cold-loving Bombus glacialis had occupied a wide range in the dried territory of the current Arctic shelf. Climate warming, which caused an increase in the level of the world ocean, isolated the populations on the Novaya Zemlya and Wrangel Island. According to Ivan Bolotov, the two populations may have diverged during the warm interglacial period about 270,000 years ago.
Wrangel Island is a large part of Beringia, the ancient bridge linking Asia and North America, which was used by fauna to move. Many endemic species survived there, indicating that there had been no solid glaciation on the island.
The number of bumblebees on Wrangel Island is estimated to be higher than on Novaya Zemlya, which is characterized by harsher natural conditions, and their range is wider.
On the Novaya Zemlya, the glacial bumblebee has a small number of plants for collecting nectar and pollen, whereas on Wrangel Island the flora is much richer. Mostly due to legumes. According to the concept of Soviet entomologist Dmitry Panfilov, the distribution of bumblebees in the Arctic is limited not by climate, but by the distribution of legumes.
Also on Wrangel Island one can observe a certain relationship between bumblebees and lemmings as the insects use the burrows of rodents to build the bumblebee nests.
Natural enemies of bumblebees are polar foxes and black-legged kittywakes Scientists also note on Wrangel Island a high degree of infestation of bumblebees and their nests with various species of mites and nematodes.
Biologists emphasize that Bombus glacialis is one of the few endemic species, typical only for the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation and with an extremely limited range.
Global warming and mining development may disturb habitats and lead to the perishing of this vulnerable species. Scientists consider it necessary to carry out the corresponding monitoring on the Novaya Zemlya and Wrangel Island and will apply for the glacial bumblebee to be included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.
The military will pick up garbage on Wrangel Island
In the near future servicemen included in the consolidated environmental group of the Eastern Military District will set to clean Wrangel Island from household garbage, as well as to remove end-of-life property and equipment from the Arctic zone.
Not only servicemen but also civil specialists will work as part of the group. More than a dozen of special equipment units are to be used.In the island area an environmental group will also be involved in recultivation of cleaned up land.
The operations are to be completed in November, after that the keelboat KIL-168 of the supply vessels detachment will take the garbage to the mainland for further utilization.
Author: Igor Oleinikov
The start of Russia's chairmanship in the Arctic Council for the period 2021-2023
On 25 June 2021, an International Forum was held in Moscow on the occasion of the start of Russia's chairmanship in the Arctic Council for the period 2021-2023.
The Forum was attended by representatives of the relevant ministries and authorities of the Russian Federation, Arctic Council working groups, heads of Russian regions of the Arctic zone and their foreign colleagues, scientists and experts of international level, representatives of international environmental organisations, and companies operating in the zone, as well as leaders of 'green' political unions. Forum participants discussed the prospects for developing cooperation and interaction between the Arctic states, indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants, and promotion of Russia's aspirations for collaborative interstate solutions to Arctic issues.
At the plenary session 'Sustainable Development of the Arctic', Alexander Kozlov, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, spoke about the significant efforts of the Russian government to maintain and develop an extensive environmental monitoring system in the Arctic, including black carbon and methane (soot) monitoring. He also highlighted plans to clean up the Russian Arctic territories from debris that have been accumulated over several decades there.
Nikolai Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large for International Cooperation in the Arctic at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Committee of Senior Officials at the Arctic Council, detailed the main priorities of the Arctic Council as follows: Arctic indigenous people, the environment, including climate change issues, sustainable social and economic development and strengthening the Arctic Council and improving its efficiency.
In addition to the plenary session, the International Arctic Forum also included the International Media Congress of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region. One of the key speeches at the event was that of Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She called on the journalistic community to provide objective and impartial reporting on issues related to Arctic ecology.
"When it comes to the Arctic region, in particular the environmental aspect, which is of public importance and directly linked to the health and wellbeing of people, any distortions can lead to serious consequences", Maria Zakharova underlined.
The forum also included thematic sessions on the management of natural resources and protection of the environment, the climate issues, opportunities for modern technology for saving and developing the Arctic, shipping activities, and the creation and operation of specially protected natural areas.
Environmental Education Day
Environmental Education Day is celebrated annually on May 12. The date refers to the anniversary of the Stockholm International Conference (1972). The main points of the Global Declaration on Environment and Effective Development were elaborated and adopted there.
This new holiday was established in 1991 under the sponsorship of the UN (United Nations). It is widely celebrated in Russia and other CIS countries since 1992.
Ecological education makes a person aware of the value of the environment and gives knowledge about existing ecological patterns. Each person trained in environmental issues, has an opportunity to use it both in private life and at work. That is to try to act in such a way so that to reduce damage to wildlife from the economic activity. An educated person realizes that everything in our world is interconnected and nothing passes without a trace.
Various thematic events are traditionally held on this day. In particular, "round tables" and meetings with well-known environmentalists. Their aim is to popularize environmental education and try to maintain a better balance in nature and prevent mankind from approaching further to a global ecological catastrophe.
Author: Vitaly Dvoryachenko
Quadcopters open up new prospects for polar bear surveying in the Arctic
A unique experiment has been carried out on the territory of Wrangel Island Nature Reserve for the second year already. Specialists are testing methods of counting polar bear dens by using drones. Four drones, two of which have thermal imaging cameras, were provided to the researchers by the World Wildlife Fund.
"Unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs) have already become the part of our lives, though science is just beginning to use them for an unusual task - searching for polar bear maternity dens, even under harsh conditions of the Arctic," says Varvara Semenova, WWF Russia's project coordinator for Arctic biodiversity conservation. "Actually,the best place to conduct such an experiment is Wrangel Island where most of the pregnant females of the Chukotka-Alaska population lie down in the dens every year. The island is often called "the polar bear maternity home". The joint project started last year, and its first, very interesting results, made it possible to continue the research this spring. "
This year, the Reserve's pilots tried a new approach to quadcopter operating. They replaced manual control with site scanning in programmed flight mode. The methodology was developed in collaboration with WWF of Russia and the Scientific Expeditionary Centre for Marine Mammal Research.
The monitoring was carried out by two teams. One team worked in the Central Mountains and the other in the eastern part of the island, on the coastal part of Cape Waring.
It is remarkable that the counts started on 23 March, the very day of the Reserve's 45th anniversary, so the majority of the Reserve's staff were in the fields. According to the counting specialists themselves, nature gave them the long-expected presents. During the first week one of the groups discovered five dens and met female bears with cubs, and another group was lucky enough to observe a young female bear and her cub having a "festive" dinner.
In addition to the aerial surveys, ground surveys were also carried out. For example, during one of the first field trips, scientists discovered and then inspected an unusually large den. The snow "flat" had two main levels, three chambers and a corridor, as long as a man's height. In total, specialists recorded more than a dozen dens and more than twenty encounters with predators. Most animals were females with two cubs, but there were also broods of three babies, which is quite rare.
Specialists still have to analyze the collected data, but the first results show that drones are unlikely to become the main means for finding dens, and drones will not fully replace humans on snowmobiles. The Arctic conditions are too harsh. Since spontaneous winds, fogs and blizzards complicate the work and can put the equipment out of action.
"We can surely say now that the use of quadcopters considerably benefits the researchers when inspecting and visual searching for dens," says Alexander Gruzdev, director of the Wrangel Island Nature Reserve.
Drones provide precise GPS data, high quality photos and video to determine the presence of animals. The additional upgrades, such as a thermal imaging camera and superzoom, make the search activities even easier. Also, the ability to observe animals from above minimizes the disturbance factor and provides data on polar bear life in the wild.
The first muskox calves
On 25 April, the first muskox calves were sighted by the Reserve staff at the cordon Tundrovy Peak.
Muskox calves are born from late April to early June. Usually one calve is born, but very rarely there are two of them. After half an hour, the calf can stand on his own legs and it receives its first portion of milk. During the first few days, the calf does not distinguish its mother from others and may follow the first large object that catches its eye. The mother always stays close to the calf to keep it safe. As the calf grows up, it memorizes its mother's appearance, voice and coloration. The nursing female builds a tactile-sniffing and licking contact with her calf. Later on, she sniffs the calves in the herd before feeding, looking for her own. Due to milk feeding, calves gain weight quickly and the weight can be doubled for the first month. After the first month, the calves change to forage with milk adding. For most females, milk feeding usually ends by September. Dates of the calves' births and number of calves is important information to assess the conditions of the muskoxen living on Wrangel Island.
News from the fields
The spring surveys of polar bears conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles on Wrangel Island have come to the end. Soon, the researchers will leave for the tundra to carry out their next annual surveys and stationary observations. The field team still has a few days left and is using them to their advantage now. Within the framework of improving reports of the conservation staff, the science department has provided the colleagues with methodological guidelines and additional material for more correct monitoring data.
Фото Ульяны Бабий
Our feathered friends
Birds inhabit every corner of our world. They can be found in forests and high mountains, in swamps and river deltas, at sea and in tundra, in town and in the countryside. They amaze us with their swift light flight, beautiful singing, various plumage coloration. We are accustomed to the neighborhood of birds, we are used to seeing and hearing them. However, like other representatives of wildlife they also require special treatment and protection.
On April 2, Wrangel Island Reserve was visited by children from the kindergarten "Golden Key" in the town of Pevek. The Head of Department of Environmental Education , Ekaterina Artamonova, held for the children a thematic event "Our feathered friends", dedicated to the International Day of Birds. On this day the children learned a lot of interesting facts, e.g what feathered friends live with us all year round and what birds come back in spring from wintering, what is the difference between sea and tundra birds, and what rare birds come to Chukotka. Children went on a virtual walk across the Reserve, watched the main part of the reserved avifauna and enjoyed their singing. The kindergarten was presented with photo albums "Birds of Wrangel Island Reserve", so that young nature lovers could learn about the wonderful world of birds of the Reserve.
Do you know how long your rubbish lasts?
It's pretty simple and easy to neglect your rubbish. Imagine that first you piled up your rubbish, then threw it in the rubbish dump and it seems to you, that it has finally vanished. But unfortunately, that is not the case. Rubbish often lasts much longer, and sometimes even very long. Depending on what we have thrown away and where. Some types of wastes can also outlast us indeed.
The rate of each waste decomposition often depends on the conditions of its disposal. For instance, food waste, if disposed together with plastic waste, decomposes much longer. They release toxic substances. In fact, they are sources of infectious disease where outbreaks of epidemics form. Ideally, each type of product should be placed and disposed separately and at the right temperatures, oxygen and ultraviolet availability.
We do need a separate collection of waste!
The separate collection of waste reduces the number of landfill sites because it allows up to 90% of waste to be recycled and also influences the problem of industrial waste. During the production of primary products, industrial waste is released into the atmosphere, water and soil get polluted.
In contrast, producing of recycled products requires far fewer resources ,such as wood, oil, clean water. Consequently, less waste are left.
When sorting out the rubbish, humans contribute to saving the nature in the end. They reduce deforestation and preserve wildlife habitats, the risk of oil spills, harmful emissions and protect their health as well.
If you have a habit of dumping everything anyhow, you should know how long it takes for all sorts of your waste to be completely decomposed in landfills.
See the pictures below.
We are 45!
On 23 March, the day of the foundation of the Wrangel Island Nature Reserve, the Information Centre hosted a meeting with the Reserve's staff. Guests of the Information Centre took part in quizzes, games and competitions. At the end of the meeting, in a friendly atmosphere, there was a tea party with stories about the Reserve and watching a film about the protected Wrangel Island.
We express our sincere gratitude to Elena Lappo, candidate of geographical sciences and biogeographer, for the board game "Eco-Chukotka". The game aroused lively interest and acquainted visitors with the amazing nature and fauna of Chukotka.
A Fragment of Ancient Beringia
From April 14 to July 4, in the framework of the "Meet the Reserves!" festival, the Darwin Museum will host an art project "A Fragment of Ancient Beringia" dedicated to the 45th anniversary of the first Arctic nature reserve in Russia. At the Wrangel Island Reserve, founded March 23, 1976 is constantly researched. But scientists are not the only ones attracted to these islands. The diversity of Beringian flora and fauna is striking, because of many species found nowhere else in the world.
The exhibition will include interviews with biologists and artists, as well as a demonstration of the documentary. Being the fruit of a collaboration between artists Maria and Aleksandra Suvorov and Anna Platonova, and biologists Nikita Ovsianikov and Irina Menyushina, the exhibition is quite unusual. Irina Menyushina and Nikita Ovsyannikov have worked at Wrangel Island Nature Reserve for over 30 years. Irina Yevgenyevna has studied the behaviour of Arctic foxes and polar owls, and Nikita Gordeyevich has been an expert on the behaviour of Arctic foxes and polar bears on Wrangel Island.
The exhibition combines works of art, photos of wildlife and natural science exhibits from the funds of the Darvin Museum.
For information: the festival promotes the importance of knowledge on biodiversity conservation on planet Earth, Russia's protected areas and the role of volunteerism in nature reserves and national parks.
The Snow bunting. The Grey Whale. Author:Anna Platonova
The Protected Island
Anadyr Museum Centre "Chukotka Heritage" will host an exhibition "The Protected Island", dedicated to the 45th anniversary of Wrangel Island Reserve.
The exhibition shows about a hundred unique exhibits in the form of historical documents and photographs, samples of Soviet scientific equipment and a taxidermy collection which includes stuffed birds from Wrangel Island.
The exhibition can be visited until 1 June 2021.
First field team workers flew to Wrangel Island
Yesterday, on March 18, together with the scientific staff, the members of the Department of Ecological Tourism Development and Department of Conservation of the Reserve Territory, flew to Wrangel Island. This year, the Reserve's field team has many tasks to fulfil. Such as ecological monitoring of the key objects, including polar bears, polar geese, muskoxen, walruses, as well as the condition of seabird colonies and watercourses, and phenological observations. There are also plans to continue the projects launched last year with the support of WWF of Russia: studying the lichen fauna and global climate change on Wrangel Island.
It should be recalled that last year the World Wildlife Fund donated four professional drones with extended functionality, two of which are equipped with thermal imaging cameras. The use of quadcopters is a new trend for the Reserve. In 2020, the quadcopters were used for the first time on survey work, thereby detecting 10 dens and obtaining the necessary information about more than 30 family groups. Drones, if properly operated, allow safer surveys to be conducted, both for the surveyors themselves and for the bears and their offspring, which are highly sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season. One of the tasks is to adapt the methodology of the Reserve, in order to improve the efficiency of the survey and to increase the range of data obtained.
They plan to work in two groups: at Cape Waring and in the Central Mountains. These areas were not chosen by chance. At Cape Waring, for example, sometimes up to 4-5 dens per square kilometre are observed. These are the maximum known concentrations in the polar bear range, that have not been observed anywhere else in the world.
We wish our staff a successful field season!!!
The Reserve everyday life from the ''fields''
The Reserve staff recently returned from a field trip to the outer Waring Cordon, located on the eastern shore of Wrangel Island in Dragi Bay. At the cordon they carried out a heating system maintenance and checked the operability of the life support systems. The house has been prepared for hosting a research team, which will keep records of polar bear dens and practise UAV-assisted recording techniques. This year, they also plan to monitor walruses and then tag several animals from Waring Cordon.
Last year a wind energy generator was installed on Waring as an alternative source of electricity, which is the main electricity supplier on the island when the weather is cloudy or when there is no sun (during the polar night period). Under the conditions of the autumn-winter season it has worked without problems for 5 months already.
Also, last year a terrace boardwalk was laid as part of the cordon arrangement. Unfortunately, it could not withstand the lively interest of polar bears.
Our friends, the bears…
Wild protected areas have a special value. As they exist on their own, independent of the benefits to others. All nature reserves are established for the only purpose, for the survival and protection of wildlife through conservation, but not for the survival of mankind or for scientific research. Scientific research, eco-education and area protection carried out in nature reserves are just possible ways ways of achieving the overall goal of the Reserve, but not the main objectives.
On 5 March, the Information Centre of the Reserve hosted an event entitled "Our friends, the bears…", to celebrate the Day for the Protection of Wild Animals. Everyone knows that the Wrangel Island Nature Reserve is the kingdom of polar bears, and we have been talking about their behaviour and interesting facts for years.
But last year, a male brown bear was seen in the eastern part of the island, at Waring site. In 2019 the staff of the nature reserve recorded the first bear at the same site. Now this is the first time in the history of the Reserve that the bear has successfully overwintered on the island and is doing well and looking quite well-fed after coming out of the den. The brown bear most likely came to the island on the ice, from the Chukchi mainland, but the animal may have been brought to the island on an ice drift as well.
This is the news we decided to share at our Information Centre. The guests learned about the behavior of the brown bear, how it differs from the polar bear and what to do when encountering predators. The young guests shared their thoughts about how the brown bear will live in the Reserve. Many of them even drew a story about the bear's life. And for the deeper acquaintance with the brown bear, at the end of the event, the documentary 'Bears of Kamchatka' was presented to the town residents. For seven months, the film crew observed several bear families in the T. I. Shpilenok South Kamchatka Federal Wildlife Refuge to capture the secrets of growing up one of Russia's largest predators. This special picture transported viewers into the world of wildlife. The world where humans are given the role of observers only.
The Spy on the Ice
The Information Centre of the Reserve hosted an event dedicated to the International Polar Bear Day.
During the meeting the guests got acquainted with the world's biggest and strongest predator, the real master of the Arctic. They found out where the Arctic predator lives and learned about its neighbours, why it is also called "polar bear" and why the world celebrates Polar Bear Day. The young guests took part in the quiz and got prizes from the Reserve for the correct answers. In addition, everyone was invited to create their own 'Snow Desert Master'.
The Polar Bear Day concluded with the demonstration of the BBC documentary "Polar Bear: the Spy on the Ice". While watching the film, the audience learned how inquisitiveness and intelligence of these animals help them survive in the kingdom of disappearing ice, how difficult it is to survive in the Arctic and how difficult it is to be a polar bear. With the help of unexpected angles of hidden cameras, many amusing moments in the lives of polar bears were caught.
Today is World Marine Mammal Protection Day or Whale Day
On 19 February 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), after 200 years of ruthless slaughter of giant whales, banned commercial large whaling and trade in their meat. Currently, whaling is only allowed for indigenous people within the waters of IWC member countries.
However, in a number of IWC non-member countries, marine mammal hunting still dominates the way of life being the basis of the economic system of the coastal inhabitants. For example, Grenada, Dominica, Saint Lucia and other states keep up their whaling business.
Other whaling nations i.e Iceland, Greenland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and the part of Canada, established the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission. It is a separate organisation controlling the hunting on whales and seals.
The seas of our country are home to several dozen species of whales, dolphins, fur seals and seals, many of which are endangered and are listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Limited hunting of the grey whale is carried out by indigenous people of Chukotka, as this type of hunting is a source of existence for them.
HISTORY OF THE HOLIDAY
International cooperation in the whaling regulation field began in 1931. A number of international agreements were adopted. The most important was the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), adopted in 1946. As part of the Convention, the International Whaling Commission was established in Washington on 2 December 1946, to provide advice to member countries.
Despite of the activities of the IWC, the killing of whales reached enormous numbers in the 1960s. The animals were killed for meat, ambergris and fat. Whale meat was eaten, valuable ambergris was included in expensive perfumes, and the fat was used for smokeless room lighting, added to baby food and to nitroglycerin.
In 1972, the US adopted the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which banned the hunting and importing of marine mammals, as well as the products made from them. In the same year, the UN Conference on the Environment proposed a ten-year moratorium on the whale hunting.
This initiative was at first not supported by the IWC, but finally pressure from the public and environmental organisations had an effect. On 23 July 1982, IWC members voted to approve a moratorium on all commercial whaling, beginning with the 1985-86 season. As a result, most IWC member countries in the 1980s and 1990s stood up for the protection of the remaining whales. Meanwhile, countries that wished to continue whaling in the North Atlantic, i.e. Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Canada, set up their own similar organisation, called the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission.
Japan, though it had signed the convention, demanded quotas for its scientific fisheries, which are still much controversial. Opponents of the programme claim that its true purpose is to get whale meat for Japanese restaurants and supermarkets. In 1994 the IWC reported the results of a study of whale meat and fat sold in Japanese markets in 1993. The study found out that 10-25% of the samples were of baleen whale species, whose hunting had been banned by the IWC.
In Russia, the whaling commission has granted indulgences for the sake of Chukchi people, for whom whale meat remains a vital part of the diet.
At present, only aboriginal whaling is permitted, to meet the needs of the indigenous population, and the taking of whales for scientific purposes with the special permission of IWC member governments.
The IWC has 89 member countries, including Russia.The IWC's main task is to monitor and adjust the measures set out in the Convention's Annex in order to regulate whaling around the world.
Among other things, these measures include a complete ban on the killing of certain cetacean species; designation of certain areas of the world's oceans as 'whale sanctuaries'; establishment of quotas on the killing of cetaceans; limits on the amount of whales taken; opening and closing of whaling seasons and areas; and a ban on the killing of calves, feeding on their mother's milk, and female whales with their calves.
Although the killing of whales is prohibited under the laws of many countries, the destruction of these animals is still continuing. In addition, human activity has had a negative impact on nature.
For example, marine mammals are suffering from fishing gears and the pollution of the oceans by oil products from the expanding offshore oil industry.
This situation does not satisfy marine mammal conservationists or anyone who cares about the future of the planet. To conserve marine life, the public is being involved in the problem. In many countries there are clubs and societies for lovers of these animals.
On 19 February, various environmental groups and organisations and the general public hold all kinds of activities to protect whales and other marine mammals, as well as informational events. Often ecologists join together and dedicate this day to the protection of unique species that are in danger of extinction.
"Wrangel Island: History and Names"
With the assistance and financial support of SEVERGASBANK and Specialized Depository INFINITUM the monograph "Wrangel Island: History and Names" has been published . The book was written by Lev Savatyugin, Doctor of Geographical Sciences, Honorary Polar Explorer of Russia, Chief Researcher of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, participant of numerous expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, author of books on toponymy of Russian Arctic archipelagos. The publication of the scientific work coincided with the growing interest in the subject of the Arctic in Russia, as well as in other countries.
The author tells about the reserved islands of Wrangel and Herald. The book presents a detailed narration of the history of discovery of these islands, the origin of names of different geographical objects, given by scientists, industrialists, sailors, pilots and travellers, local people, as well as a detailed description of the climate and fauna of the protected islands. The book is illustrated with a large number of colourful photographs, drawings, maps, conveying to readers the atmosphere of this peculiar northern world.
The monograph "Wrangel Island. History and Names" contains the analysis of most information known up to now about the island and its role in the Arctic region. Reading the book will be a pleasure for all people interested in geography and history, and will provide a new insight into Russia.
The book was published by GeoGraf Publishers in St Petersburg with a print run of 1,000 copies, 538 pages.
Journey to the Geese Colony
For many people, the Wrangel Island Reserve is not only the "maternity home" for polar bears, but also the home for white geese. For more than fifty years, researchers have been annually monitoring the white goose at the largest breeding colony of this species in Asia. Different aspects have been studied, such as ecology, behavior, migrations, population structure, genetics, mechanisms of bird colony formation and many other issues.
At this Friday's event, we invited guests and residents of Pevek to take a virtual journey to Wrangel Island with the Snow Geese, starting with their arrival and ending with the fall migration. The event was held in two rounds . First,there were the trip to the Wrangel goose colony and then the introduction to research work. The Head of the Scientific Department, Ulyana Babiy, shared with the audience unique information shots and shots collected during the field season. The guests of the Information Center flew over the colony, listened to the conversation of a married pair, watched the appearance of chicks, learned many fascinating and interesting facts about the life of Snow Geese on the colony, as well as about the staff of the reserve, their annual monitoring and other methods of bird observation they use.
A colony of Snow Geese on Wrangel Island
Snow geese are one of the most numerous goose species in the world, but in Asia they nest in mass numbers only on the protected island of Wrangel. For more than 50 years, the colony in the Tundrovaya River valley has been under constant observation. Despite of all the data scientists have today, they can only suggest what the next season will be like. Will it be successful for geese? Will the birds be able to breed in such a short period of the Arctic summer? Will the weather allow the goslings to survive and get stronger before the fall migration? Every season is unique, unlike any previous one. Both for birds and people. "The geese never stop surprising us," says Ulyana Babiy, the Head of the Science Department.
"Every season we talk about new records, and the year 2020 is no exception as well. Every spring, more and more geese fly to the island. This year's spring total number was about 685,000 birds, and about 214,000 pairs were nesting at the colony. Snow geese are rather conservative. They nest in dense colonies because it makes it easier to defend themselves from predators. Pairs return to the areas of the colony where they nested in previous seasons, especially when successful. This season's early and snowy spring also encouraged geese to nest in the Academy tundra, a relatively new territory that geese began to explore in 2018. Most birds families left the colony with their chicks, and in August-September we were seeing over a million birds flying off for the winter ".
"As part of the monitoring of the White Geese on Wrangel Island, geese are tagged during the molting period. All in all, 1,000 birds were tagged with aluminum rings in 2020. Capturing and tagging is part of a long-term study of the population ecology and migration routes of the geese. The gained knowledge is essential for the preservation of the unique breeding colony of White Geese on the island".
How drones follow the protected inhabitants
On January, 22 at the Information Center of the Wrangel Island Reserve there was an ordinary meeting with guests and residents of the town of Pevek. The guests had a chance to see the reserved world from the bird's-eye view using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Most people think drones are just toys, but for scientists they are a convenient addition to traditional surveying methods, enabling them to see the island from above and take pictures in places that are difficult and unsafe to reach by any other means. It was for the first time that the employees used four quadcopters of various modifications, equipped with cameras for taking photos and videos. Two of the cameras had the function of thermal imager, capable of catching the heat emitted by the object, even from a long distance, which allowed to find polar bear maternity dens and study their condition without putting animals under stress. In addition,the listeners learned that beside for polar bear counting, drones were used to count Pacific walruses and muskoxen, and many high-quality photo and video materials for subsequent determination of age and sex characteristics were gained.
The pilot project with drones was carried out with the support of the World Wildlife Fund.
How I visited another planet
On January 15, the Information Centre of the Wrangel Island Nature Reserve hosted a meeting with the head of Eco-tourism Development, Leonid Zaika, who shared his impressions about his first field season on the island. This meeting is the first among the planned series of events with inhabitants and guests of Pevek. As the borders have been closed due to the difficult epidemiological situation, Leonid was sent to help the Reserve's specialists in their scientific work. It all started with counting polar bear dens and ended with ringing polar geese.
Leonid is an experienced wildlife expert from the Far East, but the sheer number of wild animals per unit area in the Far North conditions amazed him. In the course of the meeting the guests of the reserve virtually visited a bear's den, a rookery of walruses, a bird colony, got acquainted with the counting methods applied to the reserve's inhabitants, and had a look at the areas where scientific research is carried out. Everyone was impressed and had a lot of positive emotions.
All-Russian Day of Nature Reserves and National Parks
All-Russian Day of Nature Reserves and National Parks appeared on the calendar not so long ago. It was first celebrated in 1997 on the initiative of the Wildlife Conservation Centre and the World Wildlife Fund.
This event had not been chosen by chance. It was exactly 104 years ago, on January 11, 1917, that the first State Nature Reserve, namely Barguzinsky Nature Reserve on Baikal Lake, was founded to save the Barguzinsky sable. This date became the starting point for the Russian conservation history. Today, there are 233 specially protected natural areas of federal significance in our country. There are 109 nature reserves, 64 national parks and 60 special nature reserves all over the country - from Chukotka to Kaliningrad Region.
All of them fulfil essential functions to conserve rare animal and plant species and biological and landscape diversity. The protected areas are staffed by professionals and enthusiasts who preserve, study and educate people about nature, so that every year there will be more and more supporters of the protected areas.
We congratulate our colleagues and all wildlife lovers and conservationists on the main nature conservation holiday! We wish them successful fulfillment of all nature protection projects, new scientific discoveries and support of like-minded people. Happiness and health to you and your nearest and dearest!
Field season 2020: summary
The 2020 field season was the longest and most incredibly productive - especially compared to previous years. The field expedition lasted almost ten months - from late March to early December. At the beginning of the season (March), staff from the science department, as well as new staff from the conservation department and the tourism development department, flew to Wrangel Island. Literally on the second day the team split into groups to conduct the annual count of polar bear maternity dens. It should be noted that this year, for the first time, our reserve conducted counts using unmanned aerial vehicles - ATVs. It was WWF of Russia that helped to purchase the expensive equipment with extended functionality within the framework of the joint project on testing new methods of animal registration. Two vehicles were fitted with cameras capable of displaying heat radiated by the object.
At the end of spring a team of climate scientists visited the Reserve. Wrangel Island was chosen as a platform for assessing the impact of global change on the ecosystems of the Russian Arctic. During the three-month period, data on the natural complexes of Wrangel Island were collected. A great deal of information was obtained about changes in vegetation, soil characteristics, permafrost soils and water bodies. Using quadrocopters, specialists investigated the snow cover and sea ice of shore ice. Thermal sensors were also installed on the main observation fields for long-term monitoring of the microclimate.The obtained data will provide the information basis for clarifying the dynamic phenomena developing in the island's ecosystems.
This year was a pilot project within the framework of the WWF Russia Climate and Energy Programme, which will continue for the next three years. A group of lichenologists worked on the island during the cold and short Arctic summer.Young scientists from the Forest Institute of the Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences and St Petersburg State University studied the composition and structure of mosses and lichens in order to complete the database on them and identify distribution patterns in relation to the geological structure of the territory, as well as to compare the results obtained to other regions of the Arctic. 35 kilograms of lichens were collected. It will take about a year to study them. So, we expect to see a significant increase in the list of lichens of Wrangel Island.
From September 18 to October 14, the ground-based polar bear survey was conducted as part of a joint Russian-American polar bear survey on Wrangel Island. Due to the difficult epidemiological situation in the world, the survey was conducted by the Reserve's staff only. The purpose of the work was to assess the number, distribution, demographic composition and fatness of polar bears of the Chukotka-Alaska population on Wrangel Island during the autumn period. In addition, extensive biological material was collected in a non-invasive manner for further genetic research. The Eastern Military District's Environmental Consolidated Division set up a permanent camp for soldiers to live in and collect and remove metal debris near the Somnitelnaya cordon . The prepared scrap metal is expect to be removed in coming year.
In the Wildlife of Wrangel Island series, the reserve published in 2020 the debut illustrated Atlas of Vascular Plants, as well as the photo album Birds of Wrangel Island Reserve. In the Wildlife of Wrangel Island series, the reserve published a debut illustrated Atlas of Vascular Plants, as well as a photo album Birds of Wrangel Island Reserve. The next editions are now in progress and expected to be published in 2021.
This March, the Kytalyk National Park, located in the Allaihov ulus of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) was put under the operational management of the State Nature Reserve "Wrangel Island. The main goal of the national park has been the conservation of the East Siberian Crane population, which is listed in the International Red Book as well as in the Red Book of Russia. Forest fires in the national park were a real unexpected surprise to everyone. The fires were successfully put out with the involvement of officers from Aerial Fire Brigade. According to old-timers, there have been no fires in this area for the last 50 years. That is a wetland, but the very hot and dry weather in July led to the grass and moss drying out and dry thunderstorms set fire to it. The group of reserve staff led by Alexander Gruzdev made a working trip to Kytalyk. During the visit, cooperation issues were resolved, and the problems and needs of the national park were highlighted. Off-road vehicles were purchased for the Yakut Arctic National Park: a GAZ-71 all-terrain vehicle, a TREKOL and other vehicles (as part of a the subsidy from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources).
Speaking of infrastructure development at Wrangel Island, this year we completed projects to build a warming garage, installed new renewable energy sources (solar systems and a wind generator), repaired three cordons which were 2 were supplied with living trailers to accommodate up to 5 people. The plans for 2021 include the construction of facilities needed for comfortable work: an information centre, a garage for large equipment, a bathhouse and other facilities.
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