Bering Sea

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Bering Sea
LA2-Bering-Sea-UTM-zones.png
Map showing the location of the Bering Sea with latitude and longitude zones of the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system
Coordinates 58°0′N178°0′W / 58.000°N 178.000°W / 58.000; -178.000 Coordinates: 58°0′N178°0′W / 58.000°N 178.000°W / 58.000; -178.000

The Bering Sea (Russian :Бе́рингово мо́ре, tr. Béringovo móre) is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. [1] [2] It comprises a deep water basin, which then rises through a narrow slope into the shallower water above the continental shelves.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Romanization of Russian Romanization of the Russian alphabet

Romanization of Russian is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic script into the Latin script.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Contents

The Bering Sea is separated from the Gulf of Alaska by the Alaska Peninsula. It covers over 2,000,000 square kilometers (770,000 sq mi) and is bordered on the east and northeast by Alaska, on the west by Russian Far East and the Kamchatka Peninsula, on the south by the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands and on the far north by the Bering Strait, which connects the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean's Chukchi Sea. [3] Bristol Bay is the portion of the Bering Sea which separates the Alaska Peninsula from mainland Alaska. The Bering Sea is named for Vitus Bering, a Danish navigator in Russian service, who in 1728 was the first European to systematically explore it, sailing from the Pacific Ocean northward to the Arctic Ocean. [4]

Gulf of Alaska arm of the Pacific Ocean

The Gulf of Alaska is an arm of the Pacific Ocean defined by the curve of the southern coast of Alaska, stretching from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island in the west to the Alexander Archipelago in the east, where Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage are found.

Alaska Peninsula peninsula extending about 800 km (497 mi) to the southwest from the mainland of Alaska and ending in the Aleutian Islands

The Alaska Peninsula is a peninsula extending about 800 km (497 mi) to the southwest from the mainland of Alaska and ending in the Aleutian Islands. The peninsula separates the Pacific Ocean from Bristol Bay, an arm of the Bering Sea.

Russian Far East Geographic region

The Russian Far East comprises the Russian part of the Far East, the eastermost territory of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean.

The Bering Sea ecosystem includes resources within the jurisdiction of the United States and Russia, as well as international waters in the middle of the sea (known as the "Donut Hole" [5] ). The interaction between currents, sea ice, and weather makes for a vigorous and productive ecosystem.

International waters water outside of national jurisdiction

The terms international waters or trans-boundary waters apply where any of the following types of bodies of water transcend international boundaries: oceans, large marine ecosystems, enclosed or semi-enclosed regional seas and estuaries, rivers, lakes, groundwater systems (aquifers), and wetlands.

History

Most scientists believe that during the most recent ice age, sea level was low enough to allow humans to migrate east on foot from Asia to North America across what is now the Bering Strait. Other animals including megafauna migrated in both directions. This is commonly referred to as the "Bering land bridge" and is believed by most, though not all scientists, to be the first point of entry of humans into the Americas.

Sea level Average level for the surface of the ocean at any given geographical position on the planetary surface

Mean sea level (MSL) is an average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's oceans from which heights such as elevation may be measured. MSL is a type of vertical datum – a standardised geodetic datum – that is used, for example, as a chart datum in cartography and marine navigation, or, in aviation, as the standard sea level at which atmospheric pressure is measured to calibrate altitude and, consequently, aircraft flight levels. A common and relatively straightforward mean sea-level standard is the midpoint between a mean low and mean high tide at a particular location.

Asia Earths largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres

Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

There is a small portion of the Kula Plate in the Bering Sea. The Kula Plate is an ancient tectonic plate that used to subduct under Alaska. [6]

Kula Plate An oceanic tectonic plate under the northern Pacific Ocean which has been subducted under the North American Plate

The Kula Plate was an oceanic tectonic plate under the northern Pacific Ocean south of the Near Islands segment of the Aleutian Islands. It has been subducted under the North American Plate at the Aleutian Trench, being replaced by the Pacific Plate.

Plate tectonics The scientific theory that describes the large-scale motions of Earths lithosphere

Plate tectonics is a scientific theory describing the large-scale motion of seven large plates and the movements of a larger number of smaller plates of the Earth's lithosphere, since tectonic processes began on Earth between 3 and 3.5 billion years ago. The model builds on the concept of continental drift, an idea developed during the first decades of the 20th century. The geoscientific community accepted plate-tectonic theory after seafloor spreading was validated in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Subduction A geological process at convergent tectonic plate boundaries where one plate moves under the other

Subduction is a geological process that takes place at convergent boundaries of tectonic plates where one plate moves under another and is forced to sink due to gravity into the mantle. Regions where this process occurs are known as subduction zones. Rates of subduction are typically in centimeters per year, with the average rate of convergence being approximately two to eight centimeters per year along most plate boundaries.

On 18 December 2018, a large meteor exploded above the Bering Sea. The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. [7]

Geography

Bering Sea showing the larger of the submarine canyons that cut the margin Beringian Margin canyons.png
Bering Sea showing the larger of the submarine canyons that cut the margin

Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Bering Sea as follows: [8]

On the North. The Southern limit of the Chuckchi Sea [ sic ] [The Arctic Circle between Siberia and Alaska ].
On the South. A line running from Kabuch Point ( 54°48′N163°21′W / 54.800°N 163.350°W / 54.800; -163.350 ) in the Alaskan Peninsula, through the Aleutian Islands to the South extremes of the Komandorski Islands and on to Cape Kamchatka in such a way that all the narrow waters between Alaska and Kamchatka are included in the Bering Sea.

Islands

Islands of the Bering Sea include:

Regions

Regions of the Bering Sea include:

The Bering Sea contains 16 submarine canyons including the largest submarine canyon in the world, Zhemchug Canyon.

The Russian "Rurik" sets anchor near Saint Paul Island in the Bering sea in order to load food and equipment for the expedition to the Chukchi sea in the north. Drawing by Louis Choris in 1817. Choris, Saint Paul.jpg
The Russian "Rurik" sets anchor near Saint Paul Island in the Bering sea in order to load food and equipment for the expedition to the Chukchi sea in the north. Drawing by Louis Choris in 1817.
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), hauled out on Bering Sea ice, Alaska, June 1978. (Source: NOAA) Noaa-walrus17.jpg
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), hauled out on Bering Sea ice, Alaska, June 1978. (Source: NOAA)
Snailfish, a non-commercial fish, caught in the eastern Bering Sea Snailfish.jpg
Snailfish, a non-commercial fish, caught in the eastern Bering Sea
Red king crab Kingcrabpile.jpg
Red king crab
Aerial view of Tutakoke Bird Camp on the coast of the Bering Sea, south of Hooper Bay Aerial view of Tutakoke Bird Camp, Coast of the Bering Sea just south of Hooper Bay, Alaska, near Chevak, Alaska.jpg
Aerial view of Tutakoke Bird Camp on the coast of the Bering Sea, south of Hooper Bay

Ecosystem

The Bering Sea shelf break is the dominant driver of primary productivity in the Bering Sea. [12] This zone, where the shallower continental shelf drops off into the North Aleutians Basin is also known as the "Greenbelt". Nutrient upwelling from the cold waters of the Aleutian basin flowing up the slope and mixing with shallower waters of the shelf provide for constant production of phytoplankton.

The second driver of productivity in the Bering Sea is seasonal sea ice that, in part, triggers the spring phytoplankton bloom. Seasonal melting of sea ice causes an influx of lower salinity water into the middle and other shelf areas, causing stratification and hydrographic effects which influence productivity. [13] In addition to the hydrographic and productivity influence of melting sea ice, the ice itself also provides an attachment substrate for the growth of algae as well as interstitial ice algae.[ citation needed ]

Some evidence suggests that great changes to the Bering Sea ecosystem have already occurred. Warm water conditions in the summer of 1997 resulted in a massive bloom of low energy coccolithophorid phytoplankton (Stockwell et al. 2001). A long record of carbon isotopes, which is reflective of primary production trends of the Bering Sea, exists from historical samples of bowhead whale baleen. [14] Trends in carbon isotope ratios in whale baleen samples suggest that a 30–40% decline in average seasonal primary productivity has occurred over the last 50 years. [14] The implication is that the carrying capacity of the Bering Sea is much lower now than it has been in the past.

Biodiversity

The sea supports many whale species including the beluga, humpback whale, bowhead whale, gray whale and blue whale, the vulnerable sperm whale, and the endangered fin whale, sei whale and the rarest in the world, the North Pacific right whale. Other marine mammals include walrus, Steller sea lion, northern fur seal, orca and polar bear. [15] [16]

The Bering Sea is very important to the seabirds of the world. Over 30 species of seabirds and approximately 20 million individuals breed in the Bering Sea region.[ citation needed ] Seabird species include tufted puffins, the endangered short-tailed albatross, spectacled eider, and red-legged kittiwakes. [17] [18] Many of these species are unique to the area, which provides highly productive foraging habitat, particularly along the shelf edge and in other nutrient-rich upwelling regions, such as the Pribilof, Zhemchug, and Pervenets canyons. The Bering Sea is also home to colonies of crested auklets, with upwards of a million individuals.[ citation needed ]

Two Bering Sea species, the Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) and spectacled cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus), are extinct because of overexploitation by man. In addition, a small subspecies of Canada goose, the Bering Canada goose (Branta canadensis asiatica) is extinct due to overhunting and introduction of rats to their breeding islands.

The Bering Sea supports many species of fish. Some species of fish support large and valuable commercial fisheries. Commercial fish species include 6 species[ citation needed ] of Pacific salmon, Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut, yellowfin sole, Pacific ocean perch and sablefish. Shellfish include red king crab and Chionoecetes .

Fish biodiversity is high, and at least 419 species of fish have been reported from the Bering Sea.

Fisheries

The Bering Sea is world-renowned for its productive and profitable fisheries, such as king crab, [19] opilio and tanner crabs, Bristol Bay salmon, pollock and other groundfish. [20] [21] These fisheries rely on the productivity of the Bering Sea via a complicated and little understood food web. The continued existence of these fisheries requires an intact, healthy, and productive ecosystem.[ citation needed ]

Commercial fishing is big business in the Bering Sea, which is relied upon by the largest seafood companies in the world to produce fish and shellfish.[ citation needed ] On the U.S. side, commercial fisheries catch approximately $1 billion worth of seafood annually, while Russian Bering Sea fisheries are worth approximately $600 million annually.[ citation needed ]

The Bering Sea also serves as the central location of the Alaskan king crab and opilio crab seasons, which are chronicled on the Discovery Channel television program Deadliest Catch . Landings from Alaskan waters represents half the U.S. catch of fish and shellfish.[ citation needed ]

Change

Because of the changes going on in the Arctic, future evolution of the Bering Sea climate/ecosystem is uncertain. [22] Between 1979 and 2012 the region experienced small growth in sea ice extent, standing in contrast to the substantial loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean to the north. [23]

In media

The film Harbinger Down , which was released on August 7, 2015, was about a group of grad students have booked passage on the crabbing boat Harbinger to study the effects of global warming on a pod of beluga whales in the Bering Sea. [24]

One of the central characters in the 1949 film Down to the Sea in Ships has the given name "Bering" due to having been born in a ship crossing the Bering Sea. [25]

The 2002 supernatural thriller, Ghost Ship , directed by Steve Beck, follows a marine salvage crew in the Bering Sea who discover the lost Italian ocean liner, Antonia Graza that disappeared in 1962.

See also

Related Research Articles

North Pacific right whale species of mammal

The North Pacific right whale is a very large, thickset baleen whale species that is extremely rare and endangered.

Chukchi Sea A marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean north of the Bering Strait

Chukchi Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the Long Strait, off Wrangel Island, and in the east by Point Barrow, Alaska, beyond which lies the Beaufort Sea. The Bering Strait forms its southernmost limit and connects it to the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The principal port on the Chukchi Sea is Uelen in Russia. The International Date Line crosses the Chukchi Sea from northwest to southeast. It is displaced eastwards to avoid Wrangel Island as well as the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug on the Russian mainland.

Southwest Alaska

Southwest Alaska is a region of the U.S. state of Alaska. The area is not exactly defined by any governmental administrative region(s); nor does it always have a clear geographic boundary.

Pacific ocean perch species of fish in the rockfish family

The Pacific ocean perch, also known as the Pacific rockfish, Rose fish, Red bream or Red perch has a wide distribution in the North Pacific from southern California around the Pacific rim to northern Honshū, Japan, including the Bering Sea. The species appears to be most abundant in northern British Columbia, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands.

<i>Aethia</i> genus of birds

Aethia is a genus of four small (85–300g) auklets endemic to the North Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk and among some of North America's most abundant seabirds. The relationships between the four true auklets remains unclear. Auklets are threatened by invasive species such as Arctic foxes and Norway rats because of their high degree of coloniality and crevice-nesting.

Large marine ecosystem Regions of the worlds oceans characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations

Large marine ecosystems (LMEs) are regions of the world's oceans, encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundaries of continental shelves and the outer margins of the major ocean current systems. They are relatively large regions on the order of 200,000 km² or greater, characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations. Productivity in LME protected areas is generally higher than in the open ocean.

The wildlife of Alaska is diverse and abundant.

Alaska plaice species of fish

Alaska plaice is a saltwater fish that live in the North Pacific Ocean. Alaska plaice are right-eye flounders which live on the sandy bottoms of the continental shelf, up to 600 metres deep. Their geographic range is from the Gulf of Alaska in the east, to the Chukchi Sea in the north, to the Sea of Japan in the west. Alaska plaice feed mostly on polychaetes, but also eat amphipods and echiurans.

The Chukchi Sea Shelf or Chukchi Shelf is the westernmost part of the continental shelf of the United States and the easternmost part of the continental shelf of Russia. Within this shelf, the 50-mile Chukchi Corridor acts as a passageway for one of the largest marine mammal migrations in the world.

Whaling in the United States

Commercial whaling in the United States dates to the 17th century in New England. The industry peaked in 1846–1852, and New Bedford, Massachusetts, sent out its last whaler, the John R. Mantra, in 1927.The Whaling industry was engaged with the production of three different raw materials: whale oil, spermaceti oil, and whalebone. Whale oil was the result of "trying-out" whale blubber by heating in water. It was a primary lubricant for machinery, whose expansion through the Industrial Revolution depended upon before the development of petroleum-based lubricants in the second half of the 19th century.

Bowhead whale Species of mammal

The bowhead whale is a species of the family Balaenidae, in parvorder Mysticeti, and genus Balaena, which once included the right whale.

Fishing industry in the United States

As with other countries, the 200 nautical miles (370 km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the coast of the United States gives its fishing industry special fishing rights. It covers 11.4 million square kilometres, which is the largest zone in the world, exceeding the land area of the United States.

<i>Paralithodes platypus</i> species of crustacean

Paralithodes platypus, the blue king crab, is a species of North Pacific king crab which lives near St. Matthew Island, the Pribilof Islands, and the Diomede Islands, Alaska, with further populations along the coasts of Japan and Russia. Although blue king crabs are among the largest crabs in the world and reputedly may exceed 18 pounds (8.2 kg) in weight, they are generally smaller than red king crabs.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976 to manage the fisheries of the United States. With jurisdiction over the 900,000-square-mile (2,300,000 km2) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off Alaska, the Council has primary responsibility for groundfish management in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, including cod, pollock, flatfish, mackerel, sablefish, and rockfish species. Other large Alaska fisheries such as salmon, crab and herring are managed primarily by the State of Alaska.

Hanna Shoal

Hanna Shoal is a shallow, natural shoal located off the coast of northwest Alaska in the Chukchi Sea. The region around Hanna Shoal is one of the Chukchi Sea’s most biologically productive areas.

Barrow Canyon

Barrow Canyon is a submarine canyon that straddles the boundary between the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Compared to other nearby areas and the Canada Basin, the highly productive Barrow Canyon supports a diversity of marine animals and invertebrates.

Herald Shoal

Herald Shoal is a region of high benthic productivity on the Chukchi Sea shelf. It serves as rich foraging habitat for many species of marine mammals and birds.

NOAAS <i>Oregon</i> (R 551)

NOAAS Oregon, previously NOAAS Oregon, was an American fisheries research vessel in commission in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fleet from 1970 to 1980. Prior to her NOAA career, she operated under the United States Fish and Wildlife Service from 1949 to 1970 as R/V Oregon.

MV <i>Eider</i>

MV Eider was an American motor schooner in commission in the fleet of the United States Bureau of Fisheries from 1919 to 1940 and in the fleet of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1940 to 1942 and again in the late 1940s. She ran a passenger-cargo service between Unalaska and the Pribilof Islands, and also carried passengers, supplies, and provisions to destinations on the mainland of the Territory of Alaska and in the Aleutian Islands. She occasionally supported research activities in Alaskan waters and the North Pacific Ocean, and she conducted patrols to protect Alaskan fisheries and marine mammals. In 1924, she provided logistical support to the first aerial circumnavigation of the world.

MV <i>Dennis Winn</i>

MV Dennis Winn was an American cargo liner in commission in the fleet of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service from 1948 to 1960. She frequently provided a passenger and cargo service to and from the Pribilof Islands, and also carried passengers and cargo to and between other communities and FWS stations in the Territory of Alaska. Prior to her fisheries service, she was the United States Army cargo ship U.S. Army Lt. Walter J. Will (FS-244).

References

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  6. Steinberger, Bernhard, and Carmen Gaina Geology 35 (5) 407-410, 2007 Plate-tectonic reconstructions predict part of the Hawaiian hotspot tract to be preserved in the Bering Sea
  7. Rincon, Paul (18 March 2019). "US detects huge meteor explosion" via www.bbc.com.
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  14. 1 2 Schell, D. M. (2000). "Declining carrying capacity in the Bering Sea: Isotopic evidence from whale baleen". Limnology and Oceanography. 45 (2): 459–462. Bibcode:2000LimOc..45..459S. doi:10.4319/lo.2000.45.2.0459.
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  19. Red King Crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Retrieved 2007-04-07.
  20. Bering Climate. noaa.gov
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  22. Providing information on the present state of Arctic ecosystems and climate in historical context. arctic.noaa.gov
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