Bering Island

Bering Island (Russian: о́стров Бе́ринга, ostrov Beringa) is located off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Bering Sea.

Bering Island
Native name:
Behring Island
Bering island
Bering Island from space, March 1992
LocationBering Sea
Coordinates55°0′3″N 166°16′23″E / 55.00083°N 166.27306°ECoordinates: 55°0′3″N 166°16′23″E / 55.00083°N 166.27306°E[1]
Bering Island Aleuts
Group of Aleut hunters from Bering Island. 1884–1886.
The grave of Vitus Bering
The grave of Vitus Bering


At 90 kilometers (56 mi) long by 24 kilometers (15 mi) wide, it is the largest and westernmost of the Commander Islands, with an area of 1,660 square kilometers (640 sq mi).[2] Most of Bering Island and several of the smaller islands in their entirety are now part of the Komandorsky Zapovednik nature preserve.

Known as the "hidden Jewel of the U.S.-Russia Maritime Boundary," Bering Island is treeless, desolate and experiences severe weather, including high winds, persistent fog and earthquakes. It had no year-round human residents until roughly 1826.[3] Now, the village of Nikolskoye is home to 800 people, roughly three hundred of them identifying as Aleuts. The island's scant population is involved mostly in fishing.

4 km off Bering Island's northwest shore lies small Toporkov Island (Ostrov Toporkov) 55°12′9″N 165°55′59″E / 55.20250°N 165.93306°E.[4] It is a round island with a diameter of 800 m.


In 1741 Commander Vitus Bering, sailing in Svyatoy Pyotr (St. Peter) for the Russian Navy, was shipwrecked and died of scurvy[5][6] on Bering Island, along with 28 of his men. His ship had been destroyed by storms as they returned from an expedition that discovered mainland Alaska as well as the Aleutian Islands. The survivors under the command of the Swedish born lieutenant Sven Waxell were stranded on the island for 10 months, and managed to survive by killing seals and birds. They were able to build a boat out of their stranded wreck and managed to return to Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula in 1742 with sea otter furs and preserved meat from the newly discovered island.

Another of the expedition's survivors was Georg Wilhelm Steller, who eventually managed to convince his companions to eat seaweed (thus curing their scurvy). Steller explored Bering Island and cataloged its fauna, including Steller's sea cow, which became extinct within three decades due to being hunted for its meat. The island's highest point (2,464 feet (751 m)) is now named to honor the German-born naturalist. Upon returning to the Russian mainland, Steller then explored the Kamchatka peninsula and ultimately published De Bestiis Marinis (‘On the Beasts of the Sea’). However, his sympathies for the native peoples led to accusations that he was fomenting rebellion, so he was imprisoned and recalled to St. Petersburg, dying en route at age 37, although his diaries were later published to great acclaim and historic significance.[7]

In 1743 Emilian Basov landed on Bering Island to hunt sea otter, beginning the island's documented human habitation as well as ecological destruction. Promyshlenniki began to island-hop across the Bering Sea to the Aleutian islands and ultimately Alaska. In 1825 the Russian-American Company transferred Aleut families from Attu Island to Bering Island to hunt, and another group of Aleut and mixed-race settlers followed the following year, thus establishing the first known permanent human habitation on Bering Island.[3] After Russia sold Alaska and the Aleutian islands to the United States in 1867, Bering Island was placed under the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky jurisdiction. The population grew from 110 people in 1827 (17 Russians, 45 Aleuts and 48 mixed race) to more than 300 people in 1879 (100 Aleuts on Copper island alone, along with 332 mixed-race and about 10% Russian or other nationalities).[3] In 1990, after 170 years of separation and loss of cultural traditions, a planeload of Aleuts from Nikolskoye met another planeload of Alaskan Aleuts in Kamchatka's capital, and were surprised they could still communicate in the old Aleut language.[3] Because of their isolation, like the now-Alaskan Pribilof Islands, the Aleuts have been used for studies of genetic drift.[8]


The area surrounding Bering Island is now a biosphere reserve, known for its diverse wildlife, and particularly marine mammals. The island's shores form a natural habitat for sea otters, and their population now appears stable, unlike on other Aleutian islands, and although they had been hunted to near extinction on the then-recently discovered Bering Island by 1854.[9] Steller sea lions continue to summer on Bering Island, but the manatee-like Steller's sea cows, which fed on the kelp beds surrounding the island, were hunted to extinction by 1768.[5]

Арка Стеллера
Steller's Arch

Bering Island has also long been famous for its seal rookeries, including northern fur seals, common seals and larga seals, although that population dropped to but 2 rookeries totaling 3,000 seals by 1913 (two years after the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911), particularly after the 20 year hunting lease of Hutchinson, Kohl and Company of San Francisco, which removed over 800,000 pelts.[5]

Whale species sighted in the surrounding waters include sperm whales, orcas, several species of beaked whales, humpback, and right whales. Porpoises also frequent these waters.

Bering Island also has numerous seabirds. UNESCO noted that 203 bird species have been sighted on the Commander Islands, including 58 nesting there. Puffins are abundant, although the semi-flightless spectacled cormorant became extinct circa 1850. Two species of the Arctic foxes that tormented Bering's crew remain. Humans introduced reindeer, American mink and rats to the islands, with negative effects on native wildlife.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Russia, RS26, Bering". GEOnet Names Server, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
  2. ^ "Bering Island – Wikimapia". Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Kamchatka: Bering Island". Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Russia, RS26, Toporkov". GEOnet Names Server, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
  5. ^ a b c "Kamchatka: Bering Island". Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  6. ^ Although according to "Bering", by Orcutt Frost [p7], Bering died of heart failure
  7. ^ Lyons, Paul K. (10 March 2009). "The Diary Review: Steller on Bering Island". Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  8. ^ Rubicz, R; Zlojutro, M; Sun, G; Spitsyn, V; Deka, R; Young, K. L.; Crawford, M. H. (2010). "Genetic architecture of a small, recently aggregated Aleut population: Bering Island, Russia". Human Biology. 82 (5–6): 719–36. doi:10.3378/027.082.0512. PMID 21417891.
  9. ^ Sea otters
  10. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "The Commander Islands (Comandorsky State Nature Reserve) – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". Retrieved 18 January 2017.

External links

1741 in science

The year 1741 in science and technology involved some significant events.


Agrotis is a genus of moths of the family Noctuidae. The genus was erected by Ferdinand Ochsenheimer in 1816. A number of the species of this genus are extinct.

Benedykt Dybowski

Benedykt Tadeusz Dybowski (12 May 1833 – 31 January 1930) was a Polish naturalist and physician.

Benedykt Dybowski was born in Adamaryni of Navahrudak Uyezd of Grodno Governorate in the Russian Empire and was the brother of the Polish naturalist Władysław Dybowski and the cousin of the French explorer Jean Dybowski.

He studied at Minsk High School, and later medicine at Tartu (earlier Dorpat) University (Estonia). He later studied at Wroclaw University and went on expeditions to seek and study oceanic fishes and crustaceans. He became a Professor of Zoology at the Warsaw main school.

In 1864 he was arrested and condemned to death for taking part in the Polish January Uprising. His sentence was later reduced to 12 years in Siberia.

He started studying the natural history of Siberia and in 1866 a governor Muraviov dismissed Dybowski from hard labour (katorga), renewed his civil rights and proposed him to work as a doctor in hospital.

He later settled in the small village Kultuk and began a detailed study of Baikal Lake with some technical support from the Russian Geographical Society. He served as a medical doctor for the indigenous population of Kamchatka, the Aleutian Islands, the Commander Islands, Bering Island, making four trips per year around the populated areas there.

After returning from Asia he continued research work at Lviv University. He was a president of the Polish Copernicus Society of Naturalists (1886–87).

In 1927 the Academy of Sciences in the USSR elected Dybowski as a member-correspondent. Apart from that in 1921 Dybowski was given an honorary doctorate by the Warsaw's University, and in 1923 by the University of Wilno. On Dybowski's 95th birthday he was congratulated by the Shevchenko Scientific Society government.

Dybowski spent the last years of his life in Lwów, in his house on Kubanskaia 12. Dybowski died at the age of 97. He is buried in Lwów on the Łyczakowski Cemetery among the participants of the Polish Uprising of 1863.

Most of his collection of zoological and botanical specimens is now in the Lwów Zoological museum.

An amphipod (Gammaracanthuskytodermogammarus loricatobaicalensis), supposedly from Lake Baikal and named by him was once considered the longest scientific name. However, that name is no longer considered valid.In February 2014, traveller Jacek Pałkiewicz unvelied a memorial plaque to Dybowski in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski.


Bering may refer to:

Vitus Bering (1681–1741), Danish-born navigator in the service of the Russian Navy

Maritime features of Alaska/Siberia region:

Bering Sea, body of water in the North Pacific Ocean

Bering Strait, sea strait between Russia and Alaska

Bering Island, off Kamchatka Peninsula in Bering Sea

Bering land bridge, Pleistocene-ice-ages route between continents

Bering (horse), Thoroughbred racer

Bering, East Sikkim, small village in East Sikkim, IndiaSee also:

Bering Truck, former United States manufacturer and distributor

Claytonia sibirica

Claytonia sibirica (Siberian spring beauty, Siberian miner's lettuce, candy flower or pink purslane) is a flowering plant in the family Montiaceae, native to the Commander Islands (including Bering Island of Siberia), and western North America from the Aleutian Islands and coastal Alaska south to the Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island, Cascade and Coast Ranges, to a southern limit in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Populations are also known from the Kootenai Region, Wallowa Mountains, Cascade Range, and Klamath Mountains. A synonym is Montia sibirica. The plant was introduced into the United Kingdom by the 18th century where it has become very widespread.

Commander Islands

The Commander Islands or Komandorski Islands or Komandorskie Islands (Russian: Командо́рские острова́, Komandorskiye ostrova) are a group of treeless, sparsely-populated islands in the Bering Sea located about 175 kilometres (109 mi) east of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The islands consist of Bering Island (95 kilometres (59 mi) by 15 kilometres (9.3 mi)), Medny Island (55 kilometres (34 mi) by 5 kilometres (3.1 mi)) and fifteen smaller ones (islets and rocks), the largest of which are Tufted Puffin Rock (Kamen Toporkov or Ostrov Toporkov), 15 hectares (37 acres), and Kamen Ariy, which are between 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) and 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) west of the only settlement, Nikolskoye. Administratively, they compose Aleutsky District of Kamchatka Krai in Russia.

Great Northern Expedition

The Great Northern Expedition (Russian: Великая Северная экспедиция) or Second Kamchatka expedition (Russian: Вторая Камчатская экспедиция) was one of the largest exploration enterprises in history, mapping most of the Arctic coast of Siberia and some parts of the North America coastline, greatly reducing "white areas" on maps. It was conceived by Russian Emperor Peter I the Great, but implemented by Russian Empresses Anna and Elizabeth. The main organiser and leader of the expedition was Vitus Bering, who earlier had been commissioned by Peter I to lead the First Kamchatka expedition. The Second Kamchatka Expedition lasted roughly from 1733–1743 and later was called the Great Northern due to the immense scale of its achievements.

The goal was to find and map the eastern reaches of Siberia, and hopefully the western shores of North America. Peter I had a vision for the 18th-century Russian Navy to map a Northern Sea Route from Europe to the Pacific. This far-reaching endeavour was sponsored by the Admiralty College in St. Petersburg.

With over 3,000 people directly and indirectly involved, the Second Kamchatka Expedition was one of the largest such projects in history. Its cost, completely financed by the Russian state, reached an estimated 1.5 million rubles, an enormous sum for the time; roughly one sixth of the income of the Russian state in 1724.The achievements of the expedition included the European discovery of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, the Commander Islands, Bering Island, as well as a detailed cartographic assessment of the northern and north-eastern coast of Russia and the Kuril Islands. It definitively refuted the legend of a land mass in the north Pacific, and did ethnographic, historic, and scientific research into Siberia and Kamchatka. When the expedition failed to round the north-east tip of Asia, the dream of an economically viable Northeast passage, sought since the 16th century, was at an end.

Kamchatka-Aleutian Triple Junction

The Kamchatka-Aleutian triple junction is a triple junction of tectonic plates of the Fault-Fault-Trench type where the Pacific Plate, the Okhotsk Plate, and the North American Plate meet. It is located east of the Kamchatka Mys peninsula and west of Bering Island. Meiji Seamount is located to the southeast of the junction.

In the Kamchatka-Aleutian junction, the Kuril–Kamchatka Trench meets the Aleutian Trench. The former is a subduction zone while the latter is a transform fault in its western part.

Kamchatka Strait

Kamchatka Strait (Russian: Камчатский пролив) is a 191 km-wide strait off the mainland coast of Kamchatka Krai in the Russian Far East.

Komandorsky Nature Reserve

Komandorsky Nature Reserve (Russian: Командо́рский госуда́рственный биосфе́рный запове́дник) is a zapovednik (nature reserve) located on the Commander Islands, Kamchatka Krai, Russia.

The total area of the preserve is 3,648,679 ha (36,648 km2) of which 2,177,398 ha (21,774 km2) are marine buffer zone. The land territory includes most of Bering Island, all of Medny Island, as well as thirteen smaller islands and rocks. It was created in 1993 to protect the diverse ecosystems of the Commander Islands and the surrounding marine waters of the Bering Sea and northern Pacific Ocean.

Because of its isolation and the high productivity of the Bering Sea and the Pacific continental shelf, the reserve is marked by a great diversity of animal life. It is a refuge for over a million seabirds, several hundred thousand northern fur seals, several thousand Steller's sea lions, common seals, and spotted seals, a healthy population of sea otter, some 21 whale species, two rare endemic subspecies of Arctic fox, and many endangered or threatened migratory birds, such as the whooper swan, Steller's eider, and Steller's sea eagle. Furthermore, it is biogeographically unique stepping stone between Asian and North American flora and fauna.

Fishing is entirely prohibited within the 50 km (31 mi) buffer zone surrounding the preserve.

An additional stated purpose of the preserve is to foster the ecologically and culturally sustainable development of the only inhabited settlement on the Commander Islands, the village of Nikolskoye (pop. approximately 750 as of 2007).

The site is being prepared for inscription to the World Heritage List.

Leonhard Stejneger

Leonhard Hess Stejneger (30 October 1851 – 28 February 1943) was a Norwegian-born American ornithologist, herpetologist and zoologist. Stejneger specialized in vertebrate natural history studies. He gained his greatest reputation with reptiles and amphibians.

Medny Island

Medny Island (Russian: о́стров Ме́дный), also spelled Mednyy or Mednyi, sometimes called Copper Island in English, is the smaller (after Bering Island) of the two main islands in the Commander Islands in the North Pacific Ocean, east of Kamchatka, Russia. (The other fifteen are better described as islets and rocks.) These islands belong to the Kamchatka Krai of the Russian Federation.

The island was uninhabited until the late 19th century, when Aleuts came from Attu Island in the Aleutian Islands to Medny Island.

The island is 56 km long and between 5 and 7 km wide and its area is 186 km². Its maximum elevation is 640 m and the average annual temperature is +2.8 °C. About 100 meters off the northwestern end of the islands are the Beaver Stones (Бобровые камни in Russian), two islets connected by an isthmus, with a combined length of 1 km.

Mednyj Aleut language

Mednyj Aleut (also called Copper Island Creole or Copper Island Aleut) is a nearly extinct mixed language spoken on Bering Island. It is characterized by Aleut nouns and Russian verbs, each with the full inflectional complexity of the source languages. There are only five native speakers left.

Mednyj Aleut is characterised by a blending of Russian and Aleut (primarily Attu) elements in most components of the grammar, but most profoundly in the verbal morphology. The Aleut component comprises the majority of the vocabulary, all the derivational morphology, part of the simple sentence syntax, nominal inflection and certain other grammatical means. The Russian components comprise verbal inflection, negation, infinitive forms, part of the simple sentence syntax and all of the compound sentence syntax.Originally, the language was spoken on Copper Island, from where it takes its name, but all the population of that island was moved to Bering island in 1970.

Nikolskoye Airport

Nikolskoye Airport (Russian: Аэропорт Никольское) (ICAO: UHPX) is an airport on Bering Island, Russia located four kilometers southeast of Nikolskoye, Kamchatka Krai. It is the only airfield on the Commander Islands. The airport has no significant military use.

Puncturella longifissa

Puncturella longifissa, the long-slot puncturella, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Fissurellidae, the keyhole limpets and slit limpets.William Healey Dall described the species in 1914; he found specimens off Bering Island in the Bering Sea. It has also been found off Amchitka and Adak.

Spectacled cormorant

The spectacled cormorant or Pallas's cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus) 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 in the far northeast of Russia. The modern distribution was shown to be a relic of a wider prehistoric distribution in 2018 when fossils of the species from 120,000 years ago were found in Japan. It is the largest species of cormorant known to have existed.

Stejneger's beaked whale

Stejneger's beaked whale (Mesoplodon stejnegeri), also known as the Bering Sea beaked whale or the saber-toothed whale, is a relatively unknown member of the genus Mesoplodon inhabiting the northern North Pacific Ocean. Leonhard Hess Stejneger collected the type specimen (a beach-worn skull) on Bering Island in 1883, from which Frederick W. True provided the species' description in 1885. In 1904, the first complete skull (from an adult male that had stranded near Newport, Oregon) was collected, which confirmed the species' validity. The most noteworthy characteristic of the males is the very large, saber-like teeth, hence the name.

Steller's sea cow

Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) is an extinct sirenian discovered by Europeans in 1741. At that time, it was found only around the Commander Islands in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia; its range was more extensive during the Pleistocene epoch, and it is possible that the animal and humans previously interacted. Some 18th-century adults would have reached weights of 8–10 t (8.8–11.0 short tons) and lengths up to 9 m (30 ft).

It was a part of the order Sirenia and a member of the family Dugongidae, of which its closest living relative, the 3 m (9.8 ft) long dugong (Dugong dugon), is the sole surviving member. It had a thicker layer of blubber than other members of the order, an adaptation to the cold waters of its environment. Its tail was forked, like that of cetaceans. Lacking true teeth, it had an array of white bristles on its upper lip and two keratinous plates within its mouth for chewing. It fed mainly on kelp, and communicated with sighs and snorting sounds. Evidence suggests it was a monogamous and social animal living in small family groups and raising its young, similar to extant sirenians.

Steller's sea cow was named after Georg Wilhelm Steller, a naturalist who discovered the species in 1741 on Vitus Bering's Great Northern Expedition when the crew became shipwrecked on Bering Island. Much of what is known about its behavior comes from Steller's observations on the island, documented in his posthumous publication On the Beasts of the Sea. Within 27 years of discovery by Europeans, the slow-moving and easily caught mammal was hunted into extinction for its meat, fat, and hide.

Vitus Bering

Vitus Jonassen Bering (baptised 5 August 1681, died 19 December 1741), also known as Ivan Ivanovich Bering, was a Danish cartographer and explorer in Russian service, and an officer in the Russian Navy. He is known as a leader of two Russian expeditions, namely the First Kamchatka Expedition and the Great Northern Expedition, exploring the north-eastern coast of the Asian continent and from there the western coast on the North American continent. The Bering Strait, the Bering Sea, Bering Island, the Bering Glacier and the Bering Land Bridge were all named in his honor.

Taking to the seas at the age of 18, Bering travelled extensively over the next eight years, as well as taking naval training in Amsterdam. In 1704, he enrolled with the rapidly expanding Russian navy of Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great). After serving with the navy in significant but non-combat roles during the Great Northern War, Bering resigned in 1724 to avoid the continuing embarrassment of his low rank to Anna, his wife of eleven years; and upon retirement was promoted to First Captain. Bering was permitted to keep the rank as he rejoined the Russian navy later the same year.

He was selected by the Tsar to captain the First Kamchatka Expedition, an expedition set to sail north from Russian outposts on the Kamchatka peninsula, with the charge to map the new areas visited and to establish whether Asia and America shared a land border. Bering departed from St. Petersburg in February 1725 as the head of a 34-man expedition, aided by the expertise of Lieutenants Martin Spangberg and Aleksei Chirikov. The party took on men as it headed towards Okhotsk, encountering many difficulties (most notably a lack of food) before arriving at the settlement. From there, the men sailed to the Kamchatka peninsula, preparing new ships there and sailing north (repeating a little-documented journey of Semyon Dezhnyov eighty years previously). In August 1728, Bering decided that they had sufficient evidence that there was clear sea between Asia and America, which he did not sight during the trip. For the first expedition, Bering was rewarded with money, prestige, and a promotion to the noble rank of Captain Commander. He immediately started preparations for a second trip.

Having returned to Okhotsk with a much larger, better prepared, and much more ambitious expedition, Bering set off for an expedition towards North America in 1741. While doing so, the expedition spotted Mount Saint Elias, and sailed past Kodiak Island. A storm separated the ships, but Bering sighted the southern coast of Alaska, and a landing was made at Kayak Island or in the vicinity. Adverse conditions forced Bering to return, but he documented some of the Aleutian Islands on his way back. One of the sailors died and was buried on one of these islands, and Bering named the island group Shumagin Islands after him. Bering himself became too ill to command his ship, which was at last driven to seek refuge on an uninhabited island in the Commander Islands group (Komandorskiye Ostrova) in the southwest Bering Sea. On 19 December 1741 Vitus Bering died on the island, which was given the name Bering Island after him, near the Kamchatka Peninsula, reportedly from scurvy (although this has been contested), along with 28 men of his company.

Islands in the Bering Sea

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.