Coordinates: 58°0′N 178°0′W / 58.000°N 178.000°W /
Map showing the location of the
Bering Sea with latitude and longitude
zones of the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system
Bering Sea (Russian: Бе́рингово мо́ре, tr.
Béringovo móre) is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It
comprises a deep water basin, which then rises through a narrow slope
into the shallower water above the continental shelves.
Bering Sea is separated from the
Gulf of Alaska
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
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.
Bristol Bay is the portion of the
Bering Sea which separates the
Alaska Peninsula from mainland Alaska.
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
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"). The interaction
between currents, sea ice, and weather makes for a vigorous and
In the top-right corner of the image is Alaska’s mainland blanketed
with snow, as well as Nunivak Island. At the centre of the image are
the islands of Saint Paul and Saint George – part of the Pribilof
Satellite photo of the
Bering Sea –
Alaska is on the top right,
Siberia on the top left
Bering Sea in the North Pacific Ocean
7 In media
8 See also
10 External links
Most scientists believe that during the most recent ice age, sea level
was low enough to allow humans to migrate east on foot from
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.
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
Bering Sea showing the larger of the submarine canyons that cut the
International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the
Bering Sea as follows:
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′N
163°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
Islands of the
Bering Sea include:
Pribilof Islands, including St. Paul Island
Komandorski Islands, including Bering Island
St. Lawrence Island
St. Matthew Island
Regions of the
Bering Sea include:
Gulf of Anadyr
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.
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
Red king crab
Aerial view of Tutakoke Bird Camp on the coast of the Bering Sea,
south of Hooper Bay
Bering Sea shelf break is the dominant driver of primary
productivity in the Bering Sea. 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. 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.
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.
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. The implication is that the carrying
capacity of the
Bering Sea is much lower now than it has been in the
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.
Bering Sea is very important to the seabirds of the world. Over 30
species of seabirds and approximately 20 million individuals breed in
Bering Sea region. Seabird species include tufted puffins, the
endangered short-tailed albatross, spectacled eider, and red-legged
kittiwakes. 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.
Bering Sea species, the
Steller's sea cow
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
Bering Sea supports many species of fish. Some species of fish
support large and valuable commercial fisheries. Commercial fish
species include 6 species of Pacific salmon,
Alaska pollock, Pacific
cod, Pacific halibut, yellowfin sole,
Pacific ocean perch
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.
Bering Sea is world-renowned for its enormously productive and
profitable fisheries, such as king crab, opilio and tanner crabs,
Bristol Bay salmon, pollock and other groundfish. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Because of the changes going on in the Arctic, future evolution of the
Bering Sea climate/ecosystem is uncertain. 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.
The movie 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.
One of the central characters in the 1949 movie Down to the Sea in
Ships has the given name "Bering" due to having been born in a ship
crossing the Bering Sea.
Bering Sea Arbitration
List of seas
Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area
Timeline of environmental events
^ Fasham, M. J. R. (2003).
Ocean biogeochemistry: the role of the
ocean carbon cycle in global change. Springer. p. 79.
^ McColl, R.W. (2005). Encyclopedia of World Geography. Infobase
Publishing. p. 697. ISBN 978-0-8160-5786-3. Retrieved 26
^ "North Pacific Overfishing (DONUT)". Trade Environment Database.
American University. Archived from the original on 9 April 2011.
Retrieved 13 August 2011.
^ Steinberger, Bernhard, and Carmen Gaina Geology 35 (5) 407-410, 2007
^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International
Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
^ Springer, A. M.; McRoy, C. P.; Flint, M. V. (1996). "The Bering Sea
Green Belt: Shelf-edge processes and ecosystem production". Fisheries
Oceanography. 5 (3–4): 205.
^ Schumacher, J. D.; Kinder, T. H.; Pashinski, D. J.; Charnell, R. L.
(1979). "A Structural Front over the Continental Shelf of the Eastern
Bering Sea". Journal of Physical Oceanography. 9: 79.
^ a b Schell, D. M. (2000). "Declining carrying capacity in the Bering
Sea: Isotopic evidence from whale baleen". Limnology and Oceanography.
45 (2): 459. Bibcode:2000LimOc..45..459S.
^ Red King Crab,
Alaska Fisheries Science
Center. Retrieved 2007-04-07.
^ Bering Climate. noaa.gov
^ Providing information on the present state of Arctic ecosystems and
climate in historical context. arctic.noaa.gov
^ Alex DeMarban (19 February 2014). "In a warming world, Alaska's icy
Bering Sea bucks the trend".
Alaska Dispatch. Retrieved 26 September
Harbinger Down (2015)
Find more aboutBering Seaat's sister projects
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Bering Sea Climate and Ecosystem from NOAA
Pacific Ocean theme page from NOAA
Groundfish fisheries and harvest, 2005 from
Alaska Department of Fish
Video of research on Bering Sea
Nautical Chart of the
Bering Sea (Southern Part)
Islands in the Bering Sea
Sea Lion Rock
Sea Otter Rocks
Walrus and Kritskoi
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