ecology

Shocking facts about the Vasyugan swamps

Vasyugan marshes are located on the border of several regions of Russia-Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Tyumen, Omsk regions and capture part of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. Major tributaries of the Irtysh and Obi — Vasyugan, Parabel, Chaya, Shegarka, om river, Tara, shish, and Taras Rivers originate from them.


According to the data of the hydrologist Mikhail Zdvizhkov (work "Hydrochemistry of the Vasyugan swamp massif"), the swampiness of the interstitial rivers here is 80%, and the plains — more than 50%. The source of water is rain (11%), ground water (23%) and snow in Siberia — they feed rivers by 66%. The height of snowdrifts in winter here reaches a meter, the snow does not melt seven months a year — from October to April.
Yes, we have a swamp more than "they" - the state!
Vasyugan swamps are the largest swamp in the world. Its area is defined very approximately-from 5,500,000 hectares, which is about 55,000 km2, which is more than Estonia (45,226 km2) or Bosnia and Herzegovina (51,129 km2) and much more than Denmark (42,895 km2) or the Netherlands (41,526 km2).
That is, a state with a population of 5,693,085 (the population of Denmark) or 8,419,600, as in Switzerland, could be located on the territory of the marshes. But in fact, there is almost no population here.
Vasyugan marshes have a huge supply of clean water, the volume of which is estimated at 400 km3. According to scientists, there are at least 800 thousand lakes in the marshes, but they are located mostly in the Northern regions of the Vasyugan tundra.
But most importantly, the Vasyugan swamps are huge "light" planets that cool it from overheating and absorb carbon, accumulating it in peat and mitigating the greenhouse effect. The swamp absorbs up to 10 million tons of carbon dioxide per year and produces about 4 million tons of oxygen. The reserves of peat in the Vasyugan tundra amount to more than 1 billion tons.
It's alive!
Another striking thing — the age of the swamps is only 10 thousand years; three-quarters of the area of wetlands appeared in the last five hundred years. The new swamp emerged from the confluence of 19 separate swamps and continues to grow, capturing more and more territories. This is evidenced by the article "Modern waterlogging on Vasyugan" by hydrologists L. I. Inisheva, K. I. Kobak and N. G. Inisheva. During the year, the Vasyugan swamps increase by 800 hectares. in this region, geological processes are taking place right before our eyes — the appearance of new peat deposits, new watersheds, the formation of new lakes, streams and rivers. 

An unknown civilization lived here
From the point of view of the archaeologist, the swamps of the Vasyugan tundra have not been studied. In summer, this is prevented by swamp, mosquitoes and midges, and in winter, research is impossible.
I. G. Glushkov in his book "Krotovskaya culture on the Irtysh" says that once upon a time people lived here Ustartas, Odin and Krotovskaya cultures, which date back to the XVI-X centuries BC. They lived in semi-earthen houses of up to 160 m2, engaged in cattle breeding and hunting, fished and buried the dead head to the North-East, put in the graves of relatives bronze daggers, axes, Mace made of marble, ornaments made of bones in the form of snakes and bears, earrings and temple rings, jugs and round balls.
On the Bank of the varen-Igay river in 1968, the famous "Vasyugan Masks"were found. Ritual masks date back to the middle of the first Millennium ad and are considered receptacles of the souls of the dead, points out the archaeologist L. A. Chindina in the article "Ancient masks from Vasyugan".
Samoyeds and evil gods live here
On the outskirts of the swamps there are settlements of Samoyed Samoyeds: Selkups-natives of ancient Iran, carriers of the unique pyzyryk culture, whose roots go back to the VI-III centuries BC. It is their ancestors who are found in the ancient mounds of the Altai. This pazyryks generously tatuirovki their bodies and mummified dead relatives. It is their evil deities who live in the vastness of the Vasyugan swamps, scaring the lost hunter and the pampered city tourist.
Among the evil spirits, the Samoans especially venerate the seven-winged bear-Shelab or Shelabcub, who personifies the devil, who has two more hypostases — an eagle with iron feathers and a huge snake. Somewhere in the wilds of the swamps lives a mythical Ogre bear, who visits the camps of the Selkups for a human.
Selkups believe that every person becomes a bear after death, and therefore consider the animal their closest relative and worship it. As the author of the XVIII century G. Novitsky wrote, the Samoyeds paid divine honors to the bear's skin — they danced, sang and kissed it with reverence. If you had to kill a bear, you apologized to it and ... blamed everything on the Russians. Cannibal bears are usually justified by a person's blunder or misdeeds.
But even this can ruin a person
Uncontrolled poaching in the dashing 1990s, oil and gas production-all this can destroy this pristine region. As a result of industrial developments, dangerous substances such as lead and cadmium accumulate in peat. Contamination of swamps with toxic rocket fuel is due to frequent falls in the area of the Vasyugan tundra of the stages of spacecraft launched from Baikonur. Villages on the outskirts of the swamp, abandoned by the authorities, gradually die out and disappear.
But it is here that the rare Curlew lives, which disappeared in the rest of Russia, here live the protected peregrine Falcon, sturgeon, steppe Harrier, great spotted eagle, white-tailed eagle, osprey, whooper Swan, black stork, muskrat, sable, columns, otters and almost exterminated in the 1990s reindeer.
According to TASS, in 2017, the Vasyugan reserve was created with an area of 614,800 hectares in the Tomsk and Novosibirsk regions, but a year later it was merged with the Kuznetsky Alatau reserve. Now a branch of this reserve will manage the Vasyugan tundra. It is difficult to say how effective this will be. It is hoped that the swamps will be protected by the international organization UNESCO, but this has not yet happened.

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