Wrangel Island, in the Arctic Ocean, is one of the most remote islands in Russia. Straddling the International Date Line—the boundary where the eastern and the western hemisphere meet—this rugged volcanic island, where summer temperatures barely climb above freezing, is believed to have been the last place on earth where the wooly mammoth survived, six thousand years after their cousins on the mainland disappeared. This harsh landscape supports a surprisingly diverse ecosystem, including Arctic foxes, seals, walrus, musk oxen, lemmings, and many types of birds. But the most abundant species here is the polar bear. There are so many ravenous bears roaming on the island that the handful of cottages and cabins here for the temporary habitation of research scientists and rangers have metal spikes built into the windows to prevent bear attack. Warning signs posted on the door remind people to watch out for bears when venturing outside.
Spiked windows are required on Wrangel Island to thwart polar bear attacks. Photo credit: Sergey Dolya