Wrangel Island

From Academic Kids

Wrangel Island, Russia

Wrangel Island (Russian: Остров Врангеля Ostrov Vrangelya) is an island in the Arctic Ocean, between the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas, and belonging to the Russian Federation. Wrangel Island lies across the 180 meridian. The International date line is displaced eastwards at this latitude to avoid the island as well as Chukotka on the Russian mainland.


Rocky, barren and frozen, the island has a weather station and a single permanent settlement. The island is a breeding ground for polar bears (having the highest denisty of their dens in the world), seals and lemmings. During the summer it is visited by many types of birds.

During the last ice age, it is thought that large numbers of mammoths lived on Wrangel Island. It has been shown that mammoths survived on Wrangel Island until 1700 B.C. However, due to limited food supply, they were much smaller than the typical mammoth.

Its flora includes 417 species of plants, double that of any other arctic tundra territory of comparable size and more than any other Arctic island. For these reasons the island was proclaimed the World Heritage Site in 2004.


Missing image
True colour MODIS photograph of Wrangel Island, taken in 2001

The island is named for Baron Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel (17971870) who, after hearing of stories of an island at Wrangel Island's coordinates from some Chukchi, set off on an expedition (18201824) to discover the island, with no success.

In 1849, Henry Kellett, captain of HMS Herald, landed on and named Herald Island, and thought he saw another island to the west; thereafter it was indicated on British Admiralty charts as "Kellett Land".

In August 1867, Thomas Long, an American whaling captain, "approached it as near as fifteen miles. I have named this northern land Wrangell [sic] Land ... as an appropriate tribute to the memory of a man who spent three consecutive years north of latitude 68, and demonstrated the problem of this open polar sea forty-five years ago, although others of much later date have endeavored to claim the merit of this discovery."

In 1879, George W. DeLong, commanding USS Jeanette led an expedition attempting to reach the North Pole, expecting to go by the "east side of Kellett land", which he thought extended far into the Arctic. His ship became locked in the polar ice pack and drifted eastward within sight of Wrangel before being crushed and sunk. The first known landing on Wrangel Island took place on August 12, 1881, by a party from the USRC Corwin. The expedition, under the command of Calvin L. Hooper, was seeking the Jeannette and two missing whalers in addition to general exploration. It included naturalist John Muir, who published the first description of Wrangel Island.

In 1911, a group of Russians made a landing on the island and in 1914, the survivors of the ill-equipped Canadian Arctic Expedition, organised by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, were marooned there for nine months after their ship, the Karluk, was crushed in the ice pack. The survivors were rescued after Captain Robert Bartlett walked to Siberia to summon help.

Undeterred, in 1921, Vilhjalmur Stefansson returned with a small party of Inuit settlers in a speculative attempt to claim the island for Canada. In 1926 the Soviet Union ejected the survivors of Stefansson's Inuit squatters and established the settlement that survives to this day on the island.

The Soviet government also used the island for a gulag labour camp.

External links

de:Wrangelinsel et:Wrangeli saar ja:ウランゲリ島 pl:Wyspa Wrangla


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