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Sea of Okhotsk
A small sea in the western Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Okhotsk is situated between the Japanese island of Hokkaido on the south, the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia on the east, the Kuril Islands on the southeast, the island of Sakhalin on the west, and a section of the eastern Siberian coast on the west and north.
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Sea of Okhotsk Map
Here is a Map of the Sea of Okhotsk for a better understanding of the geographical region:
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Sea of Okhotsk Location/Bordering Countries
The Sea of Okhotsk, also known by its Russian name Okhotskoye More or Ochotskoje More, is the northwest Pacific Ocean arm. It is bordered on the west and north by Asia’s east coast from Cape Lazarev to the Penzhina River mouth, on the east and southeast by the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka Peninsula, on the south by the northern Hokkaido coast of Japan, and on the southwest by Sakhalin Island. The sea is entirely surrounded by Russian land, with the exception of a small patch that touches Hokkaido. It is 611,000 square miles (1,583,000 square kilometres) in size, and its mean depth is around 2,818 feet (859 metres).
Read More: Mediterranean Sea
Sea of Okhotsk Physical Features
The Amur, Tugur, Uda, Okhota, Gizhiga, and Penzhina are some of the major rivers that cut through the continent’s high, rocky shorelines. Hokkaido and Sakhalin island beaches are lower in contrast. The southeast coast of Sakhalin is home to the Gulf of Aniva and Terpeniya. Only Ion Island is located in open water; the other important islands, Shantar, Zavyalov, Spafaryev, Yam, and Tyuleny, are nearly all located close to the shore.
Within the last two million years, periodic glaciation helped to create the Sea of Okhotsk. The seafloor generally slopes from north to south, and a continental shelf extends to a depth of 650 feet along the northern and western borders (200 metres). In the remaining region (about 70% of the total), a continental slope deepens to the south and east by around 5,000 feet (1,500 metres).
The Kuril Basin, west of the Kuril Islands, contains the deepest spot, with a depth of around 8,200 feet (2,500 metres).
Most of the continental silt entering the sea comes from the Amur River. Along with volcanic activity, other sources of silt include coastal erosion. The Kuril Basin’s bottom deposits are made up of clay-diatom silt, however as you move closer to the shore, you’ll find fine, silt-covered sands, coarse sands, and pebbles that are also mixed with mussel shells.
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Sea of Okhotsk Climate
The Sea of Okhotsk is the coldest sea in East Asia, and in winter, most of the region has weather and temperatures that are only marginally different from those in the Arctic. Due to the impact of the Asian continent, the northeastern, northern, and western sections of the sea are subject to harsh winter weather; from October to April, these regions experience extremely cold air temperatures, are perpetually coated in ice, and receive very little precipitation. This region of the sea has a climate that is primarily continental.
The proximity of the Pacific Ocean leads to a milder marine climate to the south and southeast. The Sea of Okhotsk is the coldest sea in East Asia, and in winter, most of the region has weather and temperatures that are only marginally different from those in the Arctic. Due to the impact of the Asian continent, the northeastern, northern, and western sections of the sea are subject to harsh winter weather; from October to April, these regions experience extremely cold air temperatures, are perpetually coated in ice, and receive very little precipitation. This region of the sea has a climate that is primarily continental. The proximity of the Pacific Ocean leads to a milder marine climate to the south and southeast.
Read More: Atlantic Ocean
Sea of Okhotsk Significance
The sea is frequently used for transportation between the ports in eastern Russia. The two most significant of these ports on the continental coast are Okhotsk and Magadan in Nagayeva Bay. Additionally, significant cities include Korsakov on Sakhalin Island and Severo-Kurilsk and Yuzhno-Kurilsk on the Kuril Islands. Navigation on the sea is hampered in the winter by ice floes, and in the summer by thick fog.
Additional dangers in the area include strong currents and submerged boulders. The area around the Sea of Okhotsk is crucial to the growth of eastern Russia’s economy.
Read about: Indian Ocean
Sea of Okhotsk Economic Significance
One of the waters in the world with the highest biological productivity is the Sea of Okhotsk. Marine life is favoured by river drainage, intense water mixing caused by channels and wind, and the upwelling of deep, nutrient-rich ocean waters. When the temperature is warm enough, an incredibly quick spread of life takes place. Algae and seaweed serve as the flora, while crayfish, sea mussels, crabs, sea urchins, polyps, and various fish serve as the fauna. Crab and shrimp, together with salmon, herring, pollack, flounder, cod, capelin, and smelts (or frostfish), are all crucial for commerce. Whales, seals, and sea lions are among the marine creatures that live in the sea.
In 1977, the Soviet Union declared a 200-mile exclusive economic zone, bringing almost the whole sea under its control. This led to favourable conditions for the exploitation of minerals and the growth of fisheries. Today, a sizable share of the catches in eastern Russia come from the sea. On the northern shelf of the sea, oil and gas resources have also been found.
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Sea of Okhotsk Hydrology
The water of the Sea of Okhotsk is made up of continental drainage, Precipitation, and waters that enter the sea through the straits of the Kuril Islands and the La Perouse (Sya) Strait from the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan (East Sea), respectively. The sea warms to a depth of 100 to 165 feet during the summer (30 to 50 metres). The surface water temperature increases to 46–54 °F (8–12 °C), while the salinity decreases to 32.5 ppt and below.
Deeper water contains a salinity of up to 34 parts per thousand and an average temperature of 29 to 30 °F (1.8 to 1°C). The cold-water layer’s thickness varies from a few feet in the sea’s southeast to 245 to 525 feet (75 to 160 metres) in its northwest.
Water in the sea generally flows in an anticlockwise direction. The Sea of Okhotsk receives water from the Sea of Japan, which explains why its southwest region is relatively warm. As a result of Pacific currents, warm water is also swept into the ocean. The waters in the eastern half of the sea are warmer than those of the western part of the sea due to the effect of these currents.
The Kuril Islands are surrounded by currents that, for the most part, move in a clockwise direction. In the northern half of the straits, the currents flow into the sea, while in the southern half, they return to the Pacific. The strongest tides (42.3 feet [12.9 metres]) are in Penzhin Bay, while the weakest tides are in southeast Sakhalin (2.6 feet [0.8 metres]).
The end of October sees the onset of ice cover, which peaks in March. It reaches the shore in coastal locations, although there is floating ice in the open sea. With the exception of the Sakhalin gulfs and the area around Shantar Island, where ice floes are sometimes seen in July and occasionally even in August, the ice disappears around June.
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Sea of Okhotsk UPSC
The Okhotsk Circulation often referred to as the Oyashio Current or the Kurile Current, is a subarctic ocean current that loops anticlockwise in the western North Pacific Ocean and flows south. The Oyashio Current is a flow of cold water that originates in the Arctic Ocean and travels southward via the Bering Sea, the Bering Strait, and into the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk. You will learn about the Okhotsk Current from this article, which will help you with your UPSC Civil Service exam geography study.
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