Bering Sea
Overview
The Bering Sea is a marginal sea
Marginal sea
The term marginal sea has differing meanings. In one sense the term is equivalent to territorial waters. In another sense the term indicates a partially enclosed sea adjacent to or widely open to the open ocean, but bounded by submarine ridges...

 of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. It comprises a deep water basin, which then rises through a narrow slope into the shallower water above the continental shelves
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

.

The Bering Sea is separated from the Gulf of Alaska
Gulf of Alaska
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.The entire shoreline of the Gulf is...

 by the Alaska Peninsula
Alaska Peninsula
The Alaska Peninsula is a peninsula extending about 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....

. It covers over two million square kilometers, bordered on the east and northeast by Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, on the west by Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

's Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and Kamchatka Peninsula
Kamchatka Peninsula
The Kamchatka Peninsula is a peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of . It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west...

, on the south by the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands and on the far north by the Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

, which connects the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

's Chukchi Sea
Chukchi Sea
Chukchi Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the De 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...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Bering Sea is a marginal sea
Marginal sea
The term marginal sea has differing meanings. In one sense the term is equivalent to territorial waters. In another sense the term indicates a partially enclosed sea adjacent to or widely open to the open ocean, but bounded by submarine ridges...

 of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. It comprises a deep water basin, which then rises through a narrow slope into the shallower water above the continental shelves
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

.

The Bering Sea is separated from the Gulf of Alaska
Gulf of Alaska
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.The entire shoreline of the Gulf is...

 by the Alaska Peninsula
Alaska Peninsula
The Alaska Peninsula is a peninsula extending about 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....

. It covers over two million square kilometers, bordered on the east and northeast by Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, on the west by Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

's Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and Kamchatka Peninsula
Kamchatka Peninsula
The Kamchatka Peninsula is a peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of . It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west...

, on the south by the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands and on the far north by the Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

, which connects the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

's Chukchi Sea
Chukchi Sea
Chukchi Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the De 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...

. Bristol Bay
Bristol Bay
Bristol Bay is the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea, at 57° to 59° North 157° to 162° West in Southwest Alaska. Bristol Bay is 400 km long and 290 km, wide at its mouth...

 is the portion of the Bering Sea which separates the Alaska Peninsula from mainland Alaska. The Bering Sea is named for Vitus Bering
Vitus Bering
Vitus Jonassen Bering Vitus Jonassen Bering Vitus Jonassen Bering (also, less correNavy]], a captain-komandor known among the Russian sailors as Ivan Ivanovich. He is noted for being the first European to discover Alaska and its Aleutian Islands...

, a Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 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.

The Bering Sea ecosystem includes resources within the jurisdiction of the United States and Russia, as well as international waters
International waters
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 , and wetlands.Oceans,...

 in the middle of the sea (known as the "Donut Hole"). The interaction between currents, sea ice, and weather make for a vigorous and productive ecosystem.

History

Most scientists believe that during the most recent ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

, sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

 was low enough to allow humans and other animals to migrate on foot from Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 to North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 across what is now the Bering Strait. This is commonly referred to as the "Bering land bridge" and is believed by some—though not all— to be the first point of entry of humans into the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

.

There is a small portion of the Kula Plate
Kula Plate
The Kula Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate under the northern Pacific Ocean south of the Near Islands segment of the Aleutian Islands. It is subducting under the North American Plate at the Aleutian Trench and is surrounded by the Pacific Plate...

 in the Bering Sea. The Kula Plate is an ancient tectonic plate
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

 that used to subduct
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 under Alaska during the Triassic
Triassic
The Triassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about 250 to 200 Mya . As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events...

 period.

Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the limits of the Bering Sea as follows:

On the North. The Southern limit of the Chuckchi Sea
Chukchi Sea
Chukchi Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the De 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...

 [The Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs north of the Equator....

 between Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

].

On the South. A line running from Kabuch Point (54°48′N 163°21′W) in the Alaskan Peninsula

Alaska Peninsula
The Alaska Peninsula is a peninsula extending about 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....

, through the Aleutian Islands to the South extremes of the Komandorski Islands and on to Cape Kamchatka
Kamchatka Peninsula
The Kamchatka Peninsula is a peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of . It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west...

 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:
  • Pribilof Islands
    Pribilof Islands
    The Pribilof Islands are a group of four volcanic islands off the coast of mainland Alaska, in the Bering Sea, about north of Unalaska and 200 miles southwest of Cape Newenham. The Siberia coast is roughly northwest...

  • Komandorski Islands, including Bering Island
    Bering Island
    Bering Island is located off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Bering Sea. At long by wide, it is the largest of the Commander Islands with the area of ....

  • St. Lawrence Island
    St. Lawrence Island
    St. Lawrence Island is located west of mainland Alaska in the Bering Sea, just south of the Bering Strait, at about 63°30' North 173°20' West. The village of Gambell is located on the northwest cape, from the Chukchi Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The island is part of Alaska, but closer to...

  • Diomede Islands
    Diomede Islands
    The Diomede Islands , also known in Russia as Gvozdev Islands , consist of two rocky, tuya-like islands:* The U.S. island of Little Diomede or, in its native language, Ignaluk , and* The Russian island of Big Diomede , also known as Imaqliq,...

  • King Island
    King Island, Alaska
    King Island is an island in the Bering Sea, west of Alaska. It is about west of Cape Douglas and is south of Wales, Alaska....

  • St. Matthew Island
    St. Matthew Island
    St. Matthew Island is a remote island in the Bering Sea in Alaska, WNW of Nunivak Island. The island has a land area of , making it the 43rd largest island in the United States. Its most southerly point is Cape Upright which features cliff faces which exceed...

  • Karaginsky Island
    Karaginsky Island
    Karaginsky Island or Karaginskiy Island is an island in the Karaginsky Gulf of the Bering Sea. The 40 km wide strait between the Kamchatka Peninsula and this island is called Litke Strait....

  • Nunivak Island
    Nunivak Island
    Nunivak Island , the second largest island in the Bering Sea, is a permafrost-covered volcanic island lying about 30 miles offshore from the delta of the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers in the state of Alaska, at about 60° North latitude...

  • Sledge Island
    Sledge Island
    Sledge Island, or Ayak Island, is a small island in the Bering Sea. It is located from the southwestern shore of the Seward Peninsula, off the shores of Alaska.Sledge island is of volcanic origin and is only across. The highest point is...

  • Hagemeister Island
    Hagemeister Island
    Hagemeister Island is an island in the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the north shore of Bristol Bay at the entrance to Togiak Bay.The island is long, has a land area of , and its highest point is...


Regions

Regions of the Bering Sea include:
  • Bering Strait
    Bering Strait
    The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

  • Bristol Bay
    Bristol Bay
    Bristol Bay is the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea, at 57° to 59° North 157° to 162° West in Southwest Alaska. Bristol Bay is 400 km long and 290 km, wide at its mouth...

  • Gulf of Anadyr
    Gulf of Anadyr
    The Gulf of Anadyr, or Anadyr Bay , is a large bay on the Bering Sea in far northeast Siberia.-Location:The bay is roughly rectangular and opens to the southeast. The corners are Cape Navarin , Anadyr Estuary, Kresta Bay and Cape Chukotsky on the Chukchi Peninsula...

  • Norton Sound
    Norton Sound
    Norton Sound is an inlet of the Bering Sea on the western coast of the U.S. state of Alaska, south of the Seward Peninsula. It is about 240 km long and 200 km wide. The Yukon River delta forms a portion of the south shore and water from the Yukon influences this body of water...



The Bering Sea contains 16 submarine canyon
Submarine canyon
A submarine canyon is a steep-sided valley on the sea floor of the continental slope. Many submarine canyons are found as extensions to large rivers; however there are some that have no such association. Canyons cutting the continental slopes have been found at depths greater than 2 km below sea...

s including the largest submarine canyon in the world, Zhemchug Canyon
Zhemchug Canyon
Zhemchug Canyon is a giant underwater canyon located in the middle of the Bering Sea. This submarine canyon is the largest canyon in the ocean. The canyon has a vertical relief of 2600 metres dropping from the shallow shelf the Bering Sea to the depths of the Aleutian Basin. Zhemchug Canyon is...

.

Ecosystem

The Bering Sea shelf break
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

 is the dominant driver of primary productivity
Primary production
400px|thumb|Global oceanic and terrestrial photoautotroph abundance, from September [[1997]] to August 2000. As an estimate of autotroph biomass, it is only a rough indicator of primary production potential, and not an actual estimate of it...

 in the Bering Sea. This zone, where the shallower continental shelf
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

 drops off into the North Aleutians Basin
North Aleutians Basin
The North Aleutians Basin is a geographic phenomenon, primarily a submarine depression, occurring in the southern Bristol Bay region of the Bering Sea and just off the northern shore of the Alaska Peninsula. It extends some 600 miles along the Alaska Peninsula and nearly as far north-south into...

 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
Sea ice
Sea ice is largely formed from seawater that freezes. Because the oceans consist of saltwater, this occurs below the freezing point of pure water, at about -1.8 °C ....

 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
Coccolithophore
Coccolithophores are single-celled algae, protists, and phytoplankton belonging to the division of haptophytes. They are distinguished by special calcium carbonate plates of uncertain function called coccoliths , which are important microfossils...

 phytoplankton (Stockwell et al. 2001). A long record of carbon isotopes
Isotopic signature
An isotopic signature is a ratio of stable or unstable isotopes of particular elements found in an investigated material...

, which is reflective of primary production trends of the Bering Sea, exists from historical samples of bowhead whale baleen
Baleen
Baleen or whalebone is a filter-feeder system inside the mouths of baleen whales. The baleen system works when a whale opens its mouth underwater and then water pours into the whale's mouth. The whale then pushes the water out, and animals such as krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as food...

. 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
Carrying capacity
The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment...

 of the Bering Sea is much lower now than it has been in the past.

Biodiversity

The Bering Sea is home to some of the world's most interesting wildlife. This sea supports many endangered whale species including Bowhead Whale
Bowhead Whale
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh to , second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than...

, Blue Whale
Blue Whale
The blue whale is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales . At in length and or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed....

, Fin Whale
Fin Whale
The fin whale , also called the finback whale, razorback, or common rorqual, is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second longest whale and the sixth largest living animal after the blue whale, bowhead whale, and right whales, growing to nearly 27 metres long...

, Sei Whale
Sei Whale
The sei whale , Balaenoptera borealis, is a baleen whale, the third-largest rorqual after the blue whale and the fin whale. It inhabits most oceans and adjoining seas, and prefers deep offshore waters. It avoids polar and tropical waters and semi-enclosed bodies of water...

, Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale
The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from and weigh approximately . The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is an acrobatic animal, often breaching and slapping the...

, Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale
The sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, is a marine mammal species, order Cetacea, a toothed whale having the largest brain of any animal. The name comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal's head. The sperm whale is the only living member of genus Physeter...

 and the rarest in the world, the North Pacific Right Whale
North Pacific Right Whale
The North Pacific right whale is a very large, robust baleen whale species that is now extremely rare and endangered. The Northeast Pacific subpopulation, that summers in the southeastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, may have no more than 50 animals...

. Other marine mammals include walrus
Walrus
The walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous circumpolar distribution in the Arctic Ocean and sub-Arctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in the Odobenidae family and Odobenus genus. It is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic...

, Steller Sea Lion, Northern Fur Seal
Northern Fur Seal
The Northern fur seal is an eared seal found along the north Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. It is the largest member of the fur seal subfamily and the only species in the genus Callorhinus.-Physical description:Northern fur seals have extreme sexual dimorphism, with males...

, Beluga, Orca
Orca
The killer whale , commonly referred to as the orca, and less commonly as the blackfish, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. Killer whales are found in all oceans, from the frigid Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas...

 and polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

.

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. Seabird species include Tufted Puffin
Tufted Puffin
The Tufted Puffin also known as Crested Puffin, is a relatively abundant medium-sized pelagic seabird in the auk family found throughout the North Pacific Ocean....

s, the endangered Short-tailed Albatross
Short-tailed Albatross
The Short-tailed Albatross or Steller's Albatross, Phoebastria albatrus, is a large rare seabird from the North Pacific. Although related to the other North Pacific albatrosses, it also exhibits behavioural and morphological links to the albatrosses of the Southern Ocean...

, Spectacled Eider
Spectacled Eider
The Spectacled Eider is a large sea duck that breeds on the coasts of Alaska and northeastern Siberia.The lined nest is built on tundra close to the sea, and 5–9 eggs are laid. This species dives for crustaceans and molluscs...

, and Red-legged Kittiwake
Red-legged Kittiwake
The Red-legged Kittiwake is a seabird species in the gull family Laridae. It breeds in the Pribilof, Bogoslof and Buldir islands of the USA, and the Commander Islands, Russia. Adults are long, with an wingspan and a body mass of ....

s. 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
Zhemchug Canyon
Zhemchug Canyon is a giant underwater canyon located in the middle of the Bering Sea. This submarine canyon is the largest canyon in the ocean. The canyon has a vertical relief of 2600 metres dropping from the shallow shelf the Bering Sea to the depths of the Aleutian Basin. Zhemchug Canyon is...

, and Pervenets canyons.

Two Bering Sea species, the Steller's Sea Cow
Steller's Sea Cow
Steller's sea cow was a large herbivorous marine mammal. In historical times, it was the largest member of the order Sirenia, which includes its closest living relative, the dugong , and the manatees...

 (Hydrodamalis gigas) and Spectacled Cormorant
Spectacled Cormorant
The Spectacled Cormorant or Pallas's Cormorant is an extinct marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabited Bering Island and possibly other places in the Komandorski Islands and the nearby coast of Kamchatka...

 (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus), are extinct because of overexploitation
Overexploitation
Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource to the point of diminishing returns. Sustained overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource...

 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 of Pacific Salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, Alaska Pollock
Alaska pollock
Alaska pollock or walleye pollock is a North Pacific species of the cod family Gadidae. While related to the common Atlantic pollock species of the same family, the Alaska pollock is not a member of the same Pollachius genus.The Norwegian pollock , a rare fish of Norwegian waters, may actually be...

, Red King Crab
Paralithodes camtschaticus
The red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, is a species of king crab native to the Bering Sea. It grows to a leg span of , and is heavily targeted by fisheries.-Description:...

, Pacific cod
Pacific Cod
The Pacific cod, Gadus macrocephalus, is an important commercial food species. It is also known as gray cod, gray goo, gray wolf, grayest or grayfish. It has three separate dorsal fins, and the catfish-like whiskers on its lower jaw. In appearance, it is similar to the Atlantic Cod...

, Pacific halibut
Pacific halibut
The Pacific halibut is found on the continental shelf of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering sea. They are demersal, living on or near the bottom. The halibut is among the largest teleost fish in the world. Halibut are strong swimmers and are able to migrate long distances...

, Yellowfin Sole, Pacific ocean perch
Pacific ocean perch
The Pacific ocean perch has a wide distribution in the North Pacific from southern California around the Pacific rim to northern Honshū, Japan, including the Bering Sea...

 and sablefish
Sablefish
The sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, is one of two members of the fish family Anoplopomatidae and the only species in the Anoplopoma genus...

.

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 enormously productive and profitable fisheries, such as King Crab
Alaskan king crab fishing
Alaskan king crab fishing is carried out during the winter months in the waters off the coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The commercial harvest is performed during a very short season, and the catch is shipped worldwide...

, 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.

The Bering Sea also serves as the central location of the Alaskan king crab
King crab
King crabs, also called stone crabs, are a superfamily of crab-like decapod crustaceans chiefly found in cold seas. Because of their large size and the taste of their meat, many species are widely caught and sold as food, the most common being the red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus.King...

 and Opilio crab
Chionoecetes
Chionoecetes is a genus of crabs that live in the northern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.Other names for crabs in this genus include "queen crab" and "spider crab" – they are known by different names in different areas of the world....

 seasons, which are chronicled on the Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

 television program Deadliest Catch
Deadliest Catch
Deadliest Catch is a documentary/reality television series produced by Original Productions for the Discovery Channel. It portrays the real life events aboard fishing vessels in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan king crab and C. opilio crab fishing seasons.The Aleutian Islands port of Dutch Harbor,...

. Landings from Alaskan waters represents half the U.S. catch of fish and shellfish.

Change

Because of the changes going on in the Arctic, future evolution of the Bering Sea climate/ecosystem is uncertain. This is a symmetric problem: climate change impacts ecosystems, and ecosystems serve as indicators for climate change.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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