The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

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

Bering Sea

Reference work entry

Bering Sea – a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean situated between Asia, North America, the Aleutian, and the Commander Islands in its north. It was named after a Russian navigator V. Bering and stretches from the north to the south for more than 1,600 km and from the west to the east for 2,400 km. The area including the islands is 2,315 thousand km2. The deepest point is 4,773 m; in the north, the sea is less than 200 m deep. The shelf plate of the B.S. presents 46 % of its total area, while the continental margin and the deep-sea bottom account for 17 % and 37 % respectively. The shores are low and cliffy. The shoreline has a complex outline. The biggest bays are Anadyr Bay and Olyutor Bay (close to Russian coast), and Norton Bay and Bristol Bay (Alaska, USA). The biggest islands are St. Lawrence Island, Nunivak Island, and Karaginskiy Island. In the northeastern part, the shelf is 20–140 m deep, while in the southwestern part, there are two deep-sea basins separated underwater by the Olyutor Ridge. Bottom sediments are multicolored sands and silt.

The climate is subarctic, moderate: average temperature in February ranges from −4 °C to −23 °C, while in August from +5 °C to +10 °C. Atmospheric precipitations reach 200–1,500 mm. The water temperature on the surface in February ranges from +2 °C to –1 °C, while in August from +5 °C to +10 °C. Salinity is 30–33 ‰. Most of the B.S. is covered with floating ice. The land ice starts to form in the bay in November. The currents form cyclonic gyres. The Anadyr and the Yukon rivers flow into it. Fishing trade is developed. More than 240 fishes are hunted here (salmon fishes, flatfishes, herring, saury, bastard halibut, codfish, crabs), as well as sea calves and whales. Fur seals and sea calves are well traded here. On the shores and the islands, there are colonies of birds. The sea is very important for the transportation. The main ports are Provideniya (Russia) and Nome (USA). The B.S. boarders on the Chukchi Sea through the Bering Strait.

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