Chukchi

Article

October 18, 2021

The Chukchi Sea, or Чуко́тское мо́ре, Chukotskoye more, is a shallow border of the Arctic Ocean between the Eastern Siberian Sea and the Beaufort Sea.

Etymology of the name

The Chukchi Sea is named after the Chukchi living on the Chukchi Peninsula. The Chukchi have traditionally made their living from the sea and its coastal areas by hunting marine mammals and practicing reindeer herding.

Geography

The Chukchi Sea is bordered on the west by Wrangel Island and the Eastern Siberian Sea, on the east by Point Barrow in Alaska and on the south by the Arctic Circle and the Bering Sea. Its northern boundary runs from Point Barrow to the northern tip of Wrangel Island and follows the Arctic continental slope. The sea area is about 595,000 square kilometers and the average depth is 77 meters. More than half of its area is less than 50 meters deep. The largest bays are Kolychinskaya Bay in Siberia and Kotzebue Sound in Alaska. Compared to other marginal seas, there are few islands. The largest of these are Ostrov Gerаld and Wrangel Island. The most significant port city is Uelén on the Russian coast. The most significant single geological formation at the bottom of the Chukchi Sea is the Hope Basin off Alaska. There are also two underwater canyons running on the seabed, the Herald and the Barrow. The Herald, about 90 meters deep, begins at 70 ° north latitude and runs north along the 175th west longitude. Barrow follows the Alaskan coast and extends from the Chukchi Sea to the Beaufort Sea. It is between 50 and 100 meters deep.

Hydrology

There are three major sea currents in the Chukchi Sea. The Bering Seastream brings the waters of the Pacific and Anadyr Rivers through the Bering Strait to the north. The Alaskan coastal stream flows off the coast of Alaska and the Siberian coastal stream along the Siberian coast. The Siberian coastal current disappears to almost non-existent in winter and spring but intensifies in summer and autumn. The sea area is navigable between July and October; at other times it is frozen, with sea ice flowing along the Siberian coast to the southeast.

Biology

The Chukchi Sea is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. Its food chains are based on phytoplankton living near sea ice. The shallow and nutritious seabed is rich in crustaceans, mussels and other benthic animals, which in turn feed on walruses, seals, gray whales and waterfowl. Many of these species have in common the use of sea ice as a nesting and resting place. The Chukchi Sea region is home to about 2,000 polar bears, half of the polar bears in the United States, and a tenth of the entire polar bear population on Earth. The most important food for polar bears are ringed seals, who spend most of their lives on the surface of the ice. Other species of seals that live on ice include the banded seal, the bearded seal and the spotted seal. In addition to seals, sea ice is used as a resting place by walruses, which migrate to the Pacific Chukchi Sea during the summer. The Chukchi Sea is also an important habitat for many whale species. In addition to gray whales, endangered herring and humpback whales move in its shallow waters. Kasegaluk Lagoon feeds and raises about 3,500 dairy whales. Many of the indigenous peoples off the coast of Alaska have traditionally caught coastal Greenland whales. The bays and estuaries bordering the Chukchi Sea serve as nesting and feeding grounds for millions of birds. Ulapala is foraging for food for the storm bird and the short-tailed bird, and on the shores nesting in huge communities in the south and north

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