The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov


Reference work entry
Vankarem – derived from the Eskimo words “vankat” meaning “a walrus tusk” and “vankareman” meaning “tusk people” and sometimes translated as “temporarily abandoned houses”:
  1. 1.
    A settlement in the northwest of the Chukchi Peninsula, Chukotka Autonomous District, Russia. Population is about 170 people (2015 census). The Chukchi that came here in the eighteenth to nineteenth century found well-preserved abandoned dwellings but learned nothing about their origin. The settlement may either have been abandoned long before their arrival or its inhabitants died from an epidemic. The main occupation of the locals is fish hunting. In the winter of 1934, the settlement serves as an airbase of Soviet pilots who were rescuing the members of the expedition on the steamship “Chelyuskin” which had sunk in the Chukchi Sea. The inhabitants of V. had participated in the evacuation of the members, and to thank them, O. Yu. Shmidt later arranged the construction of a school here. The only way to get to the settlement is by plane. A polar station.
  2. 2.

    A cape in the northwest of the Chukchi Peninsula between Cape Schmidt in the west and Kolyuchinskaya Bay in the east, Chukotka Autonomous District, Russia. The cape is situated at the mouth of the Vankarem Lagoon; to the west of it, there is a settlement of the same name. On the cape shores, there is a large walrus rookery. 2 km to the east of the cape, there is a small Karkarpko Island. To the east of the cape, N. A. Nordenskiöld discovered the remains of ancient dwellings as well as bones of reindeer and bears.

  3. 3.

    A lagoon, the Chukchi Sea, indenting 37 km into the shore to the south of Cape Vankarem and consisting of three almost equal parts that are connected by narrow passages. The lagoon shores are predominantly low, flat, and cliffy only in some places. The Vankarem Lagoon is separated from the sea by two sand and shingle spits. The width of the entrance between these spits is about 500 m. The depth on the off-sea part of the fairway at the entrance to the lagoon is 4–5 m, and at the very entrance, it amounts to 12 m. The lagoon bottom is irregular, there are shoals, the predominant depth is 3–4 m, and in the middle part, it is up to 19 m.

  4. 4.

    A river flowing into the Vankarem Lagoon. It was named by Russian cartographers after Vankarem settlement. The Chukchi people call it “Velmay” which means “a decayed flower shop,” “a load.” There is a legend that once in old times there happened a big battle of the Chukchi with some invaders, possibly, the Yukagirs, on one of the spits close to the sea. Many people were killed and things abandoned. After the battle, the enemies from the west stopped raiding Chukotka.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016