Vaygach Island (Вайга́ч) is an island in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, in the Arctic Sea between the Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea.
Vaygach Island is separated from the Yugorsky Peninsula in the mainland by the Yugorsky Strait and from Novaya Zemlya by the Kara Strait. The island is a part of Nenets Autonomous Okrug of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia.
- Area: 3,383 km²
- Length: ~100 km
- Width: up to 45 km
- Average temperatures: −20°С (February), +5°С (June)
- Highest point: 170 m
Vaygach Island is mainly formed of argillaceous slates, sandstone, and limestone. There are many rivers (20–40 km in length), swamps, and small lakes on the island. For the most part it consists of tundra. Slight rocky ridges run generally along its length, and the coast has low cliffs in places. The island consists mostly of limestone, and its elevation above the sea is geologically recent. Raised beaches are frequent. The rocks are heavily scored by ice, but this was probably marine ice, not that of glaciers. The settlements of Vaygach, Dolgaya Guba, and Varnek are located on the island.
Fauna & Flora
Grasses, mosses and Arctic flowering plants are abundant, but there are no trees excepting occasional dwarf willows. Foxes and lemmings are spotted occasionally. While there are not many animals on the island, birds are very numerous; a variety of ducks, waders etc. frequent the marshes and lakes.
In 2007, the World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) and the Russian government have approved a nature reserve on Vaygach island. The island's surrounding seas are home to many marine mammals such as walruses
and endangered whales
The name of the island translates from the Nenets as "alluvial shore". Until the 19th century, the island was an important shrine of the Nenets
people. There were polycephalic wooden idols
painted with blood of holy animals, primarily reindeer
. Some of their sacrificial piles, consisting of drift-wood, deer's horns and the skulls of bears and deer, have been observed by travellers. In spite of their conversion to Christianity, the Nenets still regard these piles with superstition.
- F. G. Jackson. Great Frozen Land. London, 1895.
- H. J. Pearson. Beyond Petsora Eastward. London, 1899.