Deepest point of Sea of Okhotsk:
12,847 feet (3,916 meters)
Average depth of sea: 2,923 feet (891
The Sea of Okhotsk is
a part of the western Pacific Ocean,
lying between the Kamchatka Peninsula
on the east, the Kuril Islands on
the southeast, the island of Hokkaido
to the far south, the island of Sakhalin
along the west, and a long stretch
of eastern Siberian coast (including
the Shantar Islands) along the west
and north. It is named after Okhotsk,
the first Russian settlement in the
Sea of Okhotsk covers
611,000 sq.mi. (1,583,000 sq.km.), with
a mean depth of 2,818 feet (859 metres).
Its maximum depth is 11,063 feet (3,372
metres). It is connected to the Sea
of Japan on either side of Sakhalin:
on the west through the Sakhalin Gulf
and the Gulf of Tartary; on the south,
through the La Pérouse Strait.
In winter, navigation
on the Sea of Okhotsk becomes difficult,
or even impossible, due to the formation
of large ice floes, because the large
amount of freshwater from the Amur River
lowers the salinity and raises the freezing
point of the sea. The distribution and
thickness of ice floes depends on many
factors: the location, the time of year,
water currents, and the sea temperatures.
With the exception of
Hokkaido, one of the Japanese home islands,
the sea is surrounded on all sides by
territory administered by the Russian
Federation. For this reason, it is generally
considered as being under Russian sovereignty.
Some of the Islands limiting
the Sea of Okhotsk from the south, like
Hokkaido and Sakhalin, are very large.
Practically all islands in the Okhotsk
Sea are either coastal islands or they
belong to the Kuril island chain. Ion
Island is the only island in the Sea
of Okhotsk that is located in the open
sea. The majority of the islands in
the Okhotsk Sea are uninhabited, being
an ideal breeding ground for seals and
The Russian explorers
Ivan Moskvitin and Vassili Poyarkov
were the first Europeans to visit the
Sea of Okhotsk and the island of Sakhalin
in the 1640s. The first and foremost
Russian settlement on the shore was
the port of Okhotsk, which relinquished
commercial supremacy to Ayan in the
1840s. The Russian-American Company
all but monopolized the commercial navigation
of the sea in the first half of the
The Second Kamchatka Expedition
under Vitus Bering systematically mapped
the entire coast of the sea, starting
in 1733. Jean-François de La
Pérouse and William Robert Broughton
were the first non-Russian European
navigators known to have passed through
these waters. Ivan Krusenstern explored
the eastern coast of the Sakhalin in
1805. Mamiya Rinzo and Gennady Nevelskoy
determined that the Sakhalin was indeed
an island separated from the mainland
by a narrow strait. The first detailed
summary of the hydrology of the sea
was prepared and published by Stepan
Makarov in 1894.
With the exception of Ion Island, which
is located in the open sea, all other
islands in the Okhotsk Sea are either
coastal islands or they belong to the
Kuril island chain. The main islands
Sakhalin Island covers approximately
30,120 square miles (78,010 sq km) and
is Russia's largest island. Mountainous
and forested, it forms the western border
of the Sea of Okhotsk, separating it
from the Sea of Japan and the Asian
Hokkaido is Japan's second largest island
and the largest, northernmost, and most
sparsely populated of its 47 prefectural-level
subdivisions. It is 70 percent forested
and a tourist attraction due to its
natural hot springs.
The Kuril Islands are a volcanic island
archipelago that stretches approximately
750 miles (1,300 km) northeast from
Hokkaido, to the Kamchatka Peninsula,
separating the Sea of Okhotsk on the
west from the Pacific Ocean on the east.
The chain consists of 22 main islands
(most of which are volcanically active)
and 36 smaller islets with a total area
of 6,000 square miles (15,600 sq km).
Administration of these islands are
disputed between Russia and Japan.
The Yam Islands is a small island group
located near the coast in the northern
Sea of Okhotsk, near the shores of the
Pyagin Peninsula. Home to the Steller
sea lion and a variety of birds, they
are a part of the protected bioregion
of the Magadan area.
The Shantar Islands are a group of fifteen
islands that lie in Uda Bay, in the
southwestern zone of the Sea of Okhotsk.
They are located close to the shores
of the Siberian mainland. They have
no permanent population, but they are
often visited by commercial fishermen
who use them as a base.
Zavyalov Island, formerly Olsky Island,
is a relatively large island located
in the eastern side of the Gulf of Tauisk.
Zavyalov is mountainous and forested,
home to the Siberian dwarf Pine (Pinus
pumila) and the dwarf birch Betula middendorffii.
Its shores are a breeding ground for
the steller sea lion.
The Spafaryev Islands is a double island
lying east of the southernmost peninsula
enclosing the Gulf of Tauisk, or wider
bay of Magadan, from its western side.
They are composed of two islands joined
by a narrow landspit. The northern and
largest of the two, Ryabokon Island,
is roughly triangular in shape. Spafaryev
Island proper, roughly shovel-shaped,
is located at the southern end.
Talan Island, a small roundish island
7 miles (11 km) to the north of Spafaryev's
northern tip, is home to the world's
largest colony of tufted puffins.
The remote and isolated Ion Island,
a breeding ground for the steller sea
lion, is the only island that is located
in the open sea. Administratively, Ion
belongs to the Khabarovsk Krai of the
Tyuleny Island, off the coast of Sakhalin,
is known as a breeding ground for some
100,000 Northern Fur Seal.
You Tube video
A short cruise on the
Sea of Okhotsk. These cruises operate
from Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan for only
a short time usually a little either
side of February.