Wrangel Island Zapovednik

One of the highest densities of denning polar bears and walruses in the world is found on and around Wrangel Island and tiny nearby Herald Island, which became reserves to protect these species and their newborns. More than 80,000 Pacific walruses are at home here—huge oneton males basking in the sun, females swimming 87 miles (140 km) from the mainland to give birth on these secluded shores. Reindeer and wooly musk oxen thrive inland, and tens of thousands of birds—black-legged kittiwakes, pelagic cormorants, and snow geese—come to nest on jagged cliffs and lake shores during the short period they are not covered with ice and snow. Snowy owls raise young in bare depressions on inland ground. In mid-July more than a dozen arctic poppy species create colorful mosaics with pink dryads, pasqueflowers, and exquisite castelleas, blossoming over thin mats of soil overlying deep permafrost on this 3,072-squaremile (7,957-km2) island reserve between the east Siberian and Chukchi Seas.