New Siberian Islands, Russia

New Siberian Islands or Novosibirsk Islands (Yakut. Sana Sibiir aryylara) is an archipelago belonging to Russia in the Arctic Ocean between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea, administratively belongs to Yakutia (Bulunsky ulus). The area is 38.4 thousand km². New Siberian Islands are part of the protected zone of the Ust-Lensky State Nature Reserve.

Consists of three groups of islands: Lyakhovsky Islands, Anjou Islands and De Long Islands.


Discovery history

In 1646, M. V. Stadukhin informed the Yakut voivode Vasily Pushkin that he and his comrades had discovered a large island against the mouths of the Indigirka and Kolyma rivers: "the island is much in sight, and the mountains are snowy, and the falls and streams are notable." The Cossacks considered this island and the Novosibirsk archipelago to be part of the giant Novaya Zemlya.

The first reliable information about the islands at the beginning of the 18th century was reported by the Cossack Yakov Permyakov, who sailed from the mouth of the Lena to the Kolyma. In 1712, he, as part of a Cossack detachment led by Mercury Vagin, landed on the island of Bolshoi Lyakhovsky. Then Yakov Permyakov and Mercury Vagin set off on sledges to the land that lay in the sea opposite the Holy Nose. It was the southernmost island of the Novosibirsk archipelago - First Lyakhovsky. On the First Lyakhovsky Island, they noticed that "there are deer and polar foxes and wolves on that island." Alexei Dementyev, who participated in the first campaign, told about this, and testified that he saw another island to the north of the First Lyakhovsky Island.

According to the historian of Siberia of the XIX century G. Spassky, Siberian merchants Nikita Shalaurov and Ivan Bakhov in the middle of the XVIII century on the Novosibirsk Islands discovered deposits of mammoth bone.

In the summer of 1761, Nikita Shalaurov, sailing from Yana to Kolyma, saw to the north of the Holy Nose at latitude 72 ° 33, longitude 148 ° “the great land with mountains with seven tops”. These words are recorded in the logbook of the expedition ship "Vera, Nadezhda, Lyubov" and on the map of N. Shalaurov. Consequently, Shalaurov was the first to tell the world about the Lyakhovsky Islands, the first to put their southernmost outlines on the map presented to the Admiralty College and the Senate.

Despite such clear evidence of pioneering, it is generally accepted that the New Siberian Islands were discovered in 1770 by the merchant Ivan Lyakhov.

Once on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, he noticed a herd of wild deer, which led him across the ice to an unknown mountainous island. After 20 versts the second island appeared, but the deer did not stop there and went further - to an unknown land. On the new land, Lyakhov found many Arctic foxes and mammoth tusks. Notifying about his discovery to Petersburg, he asked to be allowed to have a monopoly on the islands. This right was granted to him by the decree of Catherine II, and the empress ordered to call the islands Lyakhovsky. In 1773, Ivan Lyakhov again went to the archipelago and, following the trail of a reindeer herd, went to the third island - Kotelny. There he found traces of the former explorers: a boiler of green copper, the remains of a wooden ship and firewood. On the new archipelago, Lyakhov organized the fishing of arctic fox and the extraction of mammoth bones and laid two winter huts: Maloe and Korennoye.

In connection with commercial development in 1775, 1777, 1778, a state inventory was carried out on the Lyakhovsky Islands. Yakov Sannikov, the leader of the Syrovatsky merchants, in 1800 visited one of the little-known, discovered in 1697 by the boyar's son Maxim Mukhoplev, a small mountainous island, which he called Stolbov. At the time of Sannikov, there were old memorial signs there - Russian crosses erected by sailors who sailed from the mouth of the Lena to Indigirka and Kolyma.

In 1805, Yakov Sannikov discovered Faddeevsky Island, and the next year - New Siberia Island. In the capital, having learned about these discoveries, it was suggested that in this area, possibly, a large land extends towards North America. As a result, it was decided to send government expeditions to the area of ​​Sannikov discovery.

The first such expedition was led by a zoologist by education Matvey Gedenshtrom, who served as a collegiate registrar in Tobolsk. In 1808-1810, the expedition with the help of Yakov Sannikov carried out an inventory of the archipelago.

In 1811, Yakov Sannikov found on the island the site of a Russian industrialist during the beginning of the development of northeast Asia. The fact that the Russians visited the Novosibirsk Islands in the 17th century is also evidenced by the cross on the grave on Kotelny Island, on which Yakov Sannikov saw an inscription in Russian. Gedenstrom's work on the archipelago was continued by the talented geodesist P. Pshenitsyn.

In 1820, an expedition led by Fleet Lieutenant Peter Fedorovich Anzhu made an accurate map of the islands, conducting route surveys along their shores, and also tried to find the mysterious land seen by Yakov Sannikov.

In 1879-1880, the archipelago was visited by the American polar expedition of George Delong on the schooner Jeannette, which discovered the islands of Jeannette and Henrietta.

In 1886, Eduard Toll explored the Lyakhovsky Islands, and then, together with Dr. A. A. Bunge, traveled around Kotelny Island, from the coast of which he allegedly saw Sannikov Land. In 1898, Toll, supported by the Imperial Academy of Sciences and the tsarist government, worried about the penetration of foreigners into the Arctic, made a proposal in the press to equip an expedition in search of Sannikov Land. He left on June 8, 1900 from St. Petersburg on the schooner "Zarya".


On the way to Lyakhovsky Island, the expedition, without encountering ice, unhindered, reached the northern tip of Kotelny Island. Toll decided to follow to Bennett's Island, but near it he entered a zone of dense fog, in the breaks of which the first ice appeared, and then an ice barrier. The Zarya turned back to Kotelniy Island, where it hibernated in Nerpichya Bay, having carried out meteorological observations. On May 23, 1901, four people led by Edward Toll on dog sleds, seizing the canoes, went out to the side of Bennett's Island and disappeared without a trace.

Exploration of the New Siberian Islands and the De Long archipelago was continued by the Hydrographic Expedition of the Arctic Ocean. In 1912 the icebreaking ships "Taimyr" and "Vaygach" approached the Lyakhovsky Islands, where they made an inventory of many areas. In 1913, returning to the east after the discovery of Severnaya Zemlya, the ships sailed north of the Novosibirsk Islands and opened a new island, giving it the name of Vilkitsky. In 1914, following from Wrangel Island to the west, "Vaigach" approached another island not put on the map, named after Lieutenant Zhokhov.


Geology, geography, climate

Geologically, the archipelago is dominated by permafrost and underground ice. The bedrock, which is hidden under loose Quaternary deposits and thick deposits of fossil ice, are limestone, shale with intrusions of granites and granodiorites. In the coastal cliffs of sandy-clay soil covering fossil ice, the remains of fossil plants and animals (mammoths, rhinos, wild horses, etc.) thaw out, indicating that many millennia ago the climate in this area was milder. The maximum height is 426 m (Bennett Island). The islands have an arctic climate. Winter is stable, there are no thaws from November to April. The snow cover lasts 9 months. The prevailing January temperatures are from −28 ° C to −31 ° C. In July, the temperature on the coast is usually up to 3 ° C, in the central part it is a few degrees warmer, frosts are possible during the entire warm period, but there are no sudden temperature fluctuations due to the proximity of the sea. The annual precipitation is low (77 mm). The greatest amount of precipitation falls in August (18 mm). The largest river is Balyktakh.

The landscape of the islands is arctic tundra, lakes and swamps.

Time zone - MSK + 6 (UTC + 9).


Flora and fauna

The surface of the New Siberian islands is covered with arctic tundra vegetation (mosses, lichens), from flowering: polar poppy, buttercups, grains, saxifrage, spoon grass. Of the animals constantly inhabited: reindeer, arctic fox, lemming, polar bear. From birds - snowy owl, ptarmigan. The abundance of reservoirs attracts ducks, geese, and waders here in summer. The coastal areas are inhabited by gulls, loons, guillemots, guillemots. Arctic fox used to be fished in the archipelago.

The polar station Kotelny Island has been operating on Kotelny Island since 1933.

Permanent military base
Since 2012, military exercises of the Russian Armed Forces have been held on the Novosibirsk Islands (Kotelny Island). In 2013, military equipment and property were delivered to the islands. In September 2014, the organization of a permanent military base in the Arctic was officially announced.