Krasnoyarsk Krai

The Great Arctic Nature Reserve

The Great Arctic Reserve is not just large: it is the largest nature reserve in Eurasia. Administratively, it belongs to the Taymyr Dolgano-Nenetsky district of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, including the Taymyr Peninsula, the islands and shores of the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea. The reserve was established on 11 May 1993. Its opening was timed to coincide with an anniversary: 150 years prior, the selfless geographer Alexander von Middendorff explored and officially 'discovered' the Taymyr, which until then remained an almost unknown land.

The initiators of the creation of the reserve set the following goal: to explore the northern outskirts of the Earth and the Arctic Ocean, expand ideas about the typical character of the Arctic nature and ecosystems.

After all, many residents of Russia overlook the fact that the polar lands now occupy 64% of the entire country, and, together with the Arctic waters, about 80%.

Address: 21 Leninsky Prospect, bld. A, 663000, Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory Phone +7 (3919) 31-17-13
Phone number: +7 (3919) 31-17-13
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This percentage includes the entire vast territory of the Great Arctic Reserve: more than 4 mn ha, 1,000 km from west to east and more than 600 km from north to south. This is why the symbol of the reserve is the ivory gull, a bird that never leaves the Arctic Circle. The reserve consists of 35 separate parts and is divided into seven clusters.

The Dikson-Sibiryakov area (183,000 ha) includes Sibiryakov Island (85,000 ha) with its adjacent small islands.

The area of the Kara Sea Islands (371,800 ha) comprises about a dozen small and medium-sized islands. These are the Sergey Kirov Islands, Voronin Island, Izvestiy TSIK Islands, Arctic Institute Islands, Sverdrup Island, Uedineniya Island and several other islands.

The Pyasinsky area (1,067,200 ha) covers the delta of the Pyasina River, the eastern coast of Pyasinsky Bay, the lands of the Taimyr Peninsula to the east of the Pyasina River in the basins of the Khutuda-biga, Spokoinaya, and Lazyvaya Rivers, the western part of the Khariton Laptev coast, the Minina skerries, Plavnikovye Islands, Ptichy Islands, Zveroboy Islands and others.

The Middendorff Bay area (an area of 68,500 ha) includes the coast of Middendorff Bay along the eastern part of the Khariton Laptev coast, the adjacent islands and about half of the Tolevaya River basin.

The Nordenskjold Archipelago area (507,700 ha) is the largest archipelago in the Kara Sea, Severnaya Zemlya excluded. It consists of many sea islands of different sizes with rocky shores, rugged coves and bays.

The Lower Taymyra area (1,874,100 ha) is the largest cluster in the reserve, covering the lower reaches of the Lower Taimyra River and the basin of its tributary, the Shrenk River, as well as the coast of Taymyr Bay and Toll Bay.

The Chelyuskin Peninsula area (84,600 ha) includes the coastline in the northwest of Chelyuskin Cape, the world's only continental arctic deserts, the Tessema River Delta, the western coast of Faddey Bay, Lishny Island and Helland-Hansen Island.

Moreover, the reserve includes the Severozemelsky State Nature Reserve of Federal Significance (421,700 ha) and the Brekhovsky Islands Reserve (288,500 ha).

The northernmost international port of Russia, the city of Dudinka, is located within the reserve.

The vegetation of the reserve is poor: mostly mosses, lichens, and low-lying shrubs. The fauna is not very diverse either: walruses, white whales, seals and bearded seals live in the sea, while polar bears, reindeer, lemmings, arctic foxes, wolves, ermines, wolverines, and musk oxen inhabit the land. Musk ox hunting is strictly prohibited on Taymyr, but these rare animals are the local poachers' favourite victims.

There are many birds in the reserve: 124 species. Snowy owls and rock ptarmigans, Steller's eiders, ivory and Ross' gulls live in the tundra almost all year round. In spring, flocks of many thousands of migratory birds join them: white-fronted geese, brants, several species of northern waders, Temminck's stints, curlew sandpipers, and dunlins.

On the islands and on the coast, there are colonies of herring gulls, glaucous gulls, kittiwakes, Arctic terns and guillemots; while skuas, rough-legged buzzards, and various passerines (horned larks, snow buntings, Lapland buntings, red-throated pipits, white wagtails, and wheatears) nest in the tundra. The protection of migratory birds is the most important task of the reserve and one of the reasons for its creation. Waterbirds are specifically protected, particularly four species of geese, Bewick's swan and four species of ducks. Such an abundance of birds makes the reserve a very attractive place for professional ornithologists and birdwatching enthusiasts.

At the William Barents biological station, not far from the village of Dikson, there are several international ornithological bases.

Adventure routes have been prepared in the Great Arctic Reserve for those who love active tourism. The Taymyr Labyrinth tour begins within the Brekhovsky Islands reserve. It is a week-long journey through the labyrinth of river channels of the Yenisey delta. There are pastures rich with reindeer lichen, where the Nenets let their reindeer herds graze in winter, preserving their traditional way of life. Tourists can visit a real nomad camp and experience local customs, rituals and crafts.

The water bodies of the reserve house 29 species of fish, mostly salmons and whitefish. In freshwater, the most common are Arctic char, omul, muksun, vendac, and Siberian grayling; whitefish, broad whitefish and round whitefish are less common. Polar cod, a medium-sized schooling fish, Arctic flounder, and the fourhorn sculpin live in the sea. In the Brekhov Islands reserve, there is plenty of Siberian sturgeon, as well as sterlet, nelma and pike. Peled live in the floodplain lakes. Here lie the northern limits of the distribution of heat-loving cyprinids, (the family to which carp and minnows belong) such as the Siberian roach.

Fishing in the reserve is allowed, but not everywhere, and it is subject to certain rules. In summer, from 15 July to 5 September, fishing tours are held along the Yefremov River, to which schools of omul arrive at this time. Here you can also catch rainbow smelt, omul, nelma, grayling, vendace. One of the rivers of the Pyasinsky area of the reserve is called Khutuda-Biga, that is, 'the river rich in life' in the language of the Nganasan people. It hosts a base camp from which rafting routes begin. Rafting is combined with fishing for Arctic salmon, spearfishing and even polar diving in the coastal zone of the Arctic Ocean.