The Bering Strait

Was Vitus Bering the First European to explore the Bering Strait?

No. In 1648, Russian explorer Semyon Ivanovich Dezhnyov (also spelled Dezhnev) sailed through today’s Bering Strait. Unfortunately, his discoveries and map drawings (compiled, submitted, read, and archived in 1655 in Yakutsk) did not get much attention at the time.

In 1719, the surveyors Ivan Evreinof (Evreinoff/Evreinov) and Fedor Lushin (Luzhin) were sent by Peter the Great to discover whether Asia and America are connected. They were back in St. Petersburg in 1722/1723, having been to Kamchatka and the Kurile Islands.

In 1728, eighty years after Deshnev, Bering sailed through the Strait while on his First Expedition.

In 1730, Mikhail S. Gvozdev and Ivan Fedorov went on their expedition that, in 1732, had them sailing through Bering Strait. This expedition also made landfall around what would later be named Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska.

In 1733, Bering went on his Second Expedition, but he did not enter Bering Strait. Instead, he sailed into the Gulf of Alaska (see map below.)

In August 1778, Captain James Cook on his Third Voyage, went up Bering Strait further north than any other explorer before (70°44′ N).

North Pacific Right Whale- among the most endangered animals in the world with fewer than 100 individuals estimated remaining. The species was heavily exploited by Russian whaling in the 1960s. Only an estimated thirty individuals make up the Eastern stock that inhabits Alaska waters. 

Interesting facts about the Bering Strait.

  • The rarest whale in the world, the North Pacific Right Whale, can be found in the Bering Sea.
  • To the north the Bering Sea connects with the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait, at the narrowest point of which the two continents are about 53 miles apart. The boundary between the United States and Russia passes through the sea and the strait.
  • Although the Bering Sea is situated in the same latitude as Great Britain, its climate is much more severe. The southern and western parts are characterized by cool, rainy summers with frequent fogs and comparatively warm, snowy winters.
  • Winters are extreme in the northern and eastern portions, with temperatures of 31° to -49° F and high winds.
  • However, it is a brutal environment, one of the most difficult bodies of water in the world to navigate. 
  • In spite of its hazards, the sea contains important shipping routes for the Far East, and fishermen risk their lives there, in one of the most important commercial fishing grounds in the world.
  • There are 16 submarine canyons in the Bering Sea. One of these, Zhemchug Canyon, is the world’s largest canyon.
  • 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

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