The Chukchi Sea is located between the continent of America and Russia near Siberia and Alaska within the Arctic Ocean. The sea is bound by the De Long Strait and the Point Barrow to the west and east respectively. Beyond the eastern border, on the Alaskan region lies the Beaufort Sea. The Chukchi connects to the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean via the Bering Strait. The sea has interesting features and facts as outlined below.
1. Chukchi Sea is named after local tribesmen.
The sea was named after the Chukchi people who dwell along its shores and Chukotka Peninsula. The Chukchi people mainly work at fishing, whaling, and hunting the numerous walrus inhabiting the sea.
2. Chukchi Sea is crossed by International Data Line.
The Chukchi Sea is one of the seas in the world that is crossed by the International Data Line. The IDL crosses the sea from northwest to southeast. The line is an imaginary navigation line running from North to South Poles and demarcates the change of calendar day.
3. The Chukchi Sea is only navigable four months a year.
Chukchi Sea is only navigable between the months of July and October every year. During the rest of the months, the sea is often frozen. During these four months, the sea can only be navigated eastwards and westwards from the Strait of Baring which is relatively shallow and also southwards along the Siberian Coast which is characterized by ice-bearing currents.
4. The Chukchi Sea has comparatively fewer islands.
The Chukchi Sea has the fewest islands in the Arctic region. The major islands are Wrangel Island and the Herald Island. Other smaller islands are located near Siberia and Alaskan coastlines.
5. The Chukchi Sea is home to high population of polar bears.
There are more than 2,000 polar bears in Chukchi Sea, translating to 10% of the total bears in the world and half of the bears found in America. The bears thrive in this environment due to prolonged ice which makes hunting, resting, and nursing young ones possible. Main polar bear species are the ice seals, ribbon seals, and the bearded bear.
6. The Chukchi Sea is an important seaport.
The location of the Chukchi Sea is so strategic that it serves as a major seaport where the ships of all sizes dock. The biggest seaport is on the Russian side at Uelen. The port is of great economic value with materials like timber, oil, building materials, and people being transported through. The sea is also a link point for ports in the Far East and Pacific port of America.
7. The Chukchi Sea has plenty of natural resources.
Vast oil and natural gas reserves have been discovered at the sea which if fully exploited will translate to millions of dollars. The sea holds about 30 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves, with several countries competing for lease on the area.
8. The seashore is home to rare bird species.
More than 15 species of birds live along the seashore and along the bays and rivers that flow into the sea. The environment is conducive for breeding and feeding of the millions of birds and waterfowl. These birds include spectacled eiders and yellow-billed loons. The sea is one of the accredited “Important Bird Areas“ (IBAs).
9. The Chukchi Sea is quite saline.
The seawater of the Chukchi Sea is more saline than that of other Arctic seas due to a low run off which is about 13 centimeters (6 inches). Salinity levels are regulated by the inflowing rivers such as Rivers Amguema, Kobuk, Utukok, and Noatak.
10. Global warming has greatly impacted on the sea.
The rising sea temperature is dramatically eroding the shoreline with the also ice receding, interfering with the ecosystem of the sea. This, in turn, affects the fauna and flora.