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The Laptev Sea is a small, perpetually frozen sea which is located between Russia and the Arctic Ocean.
The Laptev Sea constantly maintains freezing temperatures throughout the year, with snowfall occurring even in the summer! The winter months can see heavy snowstorms and blizzards, which is why the region is scarce of wildlife.
Though the sea remains frozen, it is very important as it usually helps form sea ice, which floats off into the Arctic Ocean. Many tundra sea creatures and mammals like seals, birds, and polar bears depend on these shelves of ice in order to hunt for prey, make their homes, and mate. Sea ice is also incredibly important as it helps to reflect sunlight back into space, regulate ocean and air temperature, and circulate ocean water evenly.
The Laptev Sea is a marginal sea located between Russia and the Arctic Ocean. A marginal sea is a shallower part of the ocean between a continent and the open ocean, in this case, the Arctic.
It was named after the Russian explorers Dmitry Laptev and Khariton Laptev. It was formerly known as the Nordenskiold Sea but renamed in honor of the two cousins who made many significant expeditions dedicated to exploring unknown land in the 18th century, such as many islands in the Taimyr peninsula area.
The salinity levels of the Laptev Sea are quite low, so it is not as salty as other seas and oceans in the world, similar to the Arctic. This is due to the low evaporation rate of the water due to the freezing temperatures, and melting of glaciers and icecaps from the North Pole into the Arctic. This dilutes the existing salinity greatly, as well as heavy inflow from freshwater streams and rivers.
The sea itself is quite shallow for a water body of its size and is around 164 ft (50 m) in most areas. Due to its closeness to the North Pole, it is also frozen for most of the year, naturally freezing over in late October and thawing out when it starts to get warmer. With its location being north of the infamously freezing Siberia, it has been nicknamed the 'birthplace of ice', as most of the Arctic sea ice seems to come from the water freezing over in the Laptev Sea. Squares of ice start to drift into the Arctic Ocean over the course of the freezing winters. Blizzards and snowstorms during the winter are quite common in this region, with snowfall occurring even in the summer!
Many rivers flow into the Laptev Sea from Siberia and Russia, the largest of these being the Yenisei River, Lena River, Anabar, Khatanga, Olenyok, Omoloy, and Yana River. The Laptev Sea coast itself has been inhabited for years by the Yukaghirs, Evens, and Evenk tribes all making their homes here at one point or other. These communities were eventually replaced by the Yakut people, and then the Russians. Proper exploration of the coastline and the nearby islands of the sea was eventually done during the 17th century when people traveled northwards following the paths of the river. The northernmost part of Russia, Tiksi, is located on the coastline of the Laptev Sea and is also the largest town. It has a population of only 5870 people!
Some islands in the Laptev Sea include the Severnaya Zemlya Islands, Vilkitsky and Faddey Islands, Bolshoy Begichev Islands, and the Komsomolskaya Pravda Islands. The islands are mostly covered with tundra and inhabited by wildlife species, coming under the protection of the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve of Russia.
The Laptev Sea is between the coast of Russia and the Arctic Ocean. It is contained within the New Siberian Islands, Severnaya Zemlya, Taimyr Peninsula, and the northern coast of Siberia.
There are a dozen islands located in the Laptev Sea, with the most important of these being Bolshoy Begichev, Starokadomsky, Maly Taymyr, Peschanyy, Stolbovoy, and Belkovsky. Some of these islands even contain well-preserved mammoth remains!
Due to the harsh waters and freezing climate of the Laptev Sea, finding flora and fauna can be quite difficult here. Blue-green algae, phytoplankton, and zooplankton can be found in the water. Aquatic plants are rare, with coastal fauna being limited to lichen, moss, polar, and a few dainty flowering plants like creeping willows and Arctic poppies.
It is common to see seals lounging on the sheets of Arctic sea ice and along the coasts and ice edge, such as the ringed seal, harp seal, and bearded seal. However, that also means that their biggest natural predator, the polar bear, is not far behind! The beautiful Arctic fox, wolves, ermines, and reindeer can also be seen near the sea, with these carnivores depending on fish from the shallower parts of the sea to fill their stomachs. Walruses and Beluga whales can be seen occasionally swimming in this sea, floating about in the weak sunlight.
There are 39 different species of fish in the Laptev Sea, all of which are brackish varieties. The most commonly found ones, most of which are also harvested for human consumption, are sardines, polar smelt, cod, flounder, broad whitefish, and whitefish.
Many tundra bird species have taken up permanent residency near the Laptev Sea, such as snow buntings, snowy owls, and purple sandpipers. Large nesting colonies of ivory gulls, long-tailed ducks, willow grouses, and little auks can be found on the neighboring islands and along the coastlines.
The delta of the Lena River, which rises from Lake Baikal and flows into the eastern Laptev Sea and Arctic Ocean, hosts a variety of wildlife species. The Ust-Lena Nature Reserve was formed here in 1985, and it includes all wildlife species found in the delta as well as on the New Siberian Islands. There are around 402 plant species, 32 fish species, 109 bird species, and 33 mammals protected in this nature reserve.
The Laptev Sea is one of the coldest Arctic seas, with an average temperature range of between -23.8 --29.2 F (-31--34 C) which can even go down to -58 F (-50 C) during the peak of winter. During the summer season, only a thin layer of water warms up enough to above the freezing point, and the lower layers remain frozen. This causes the sea level to rise by around 16 in (40.6 cm) during the warmer months near the river deltas. Warm river water also helps to increase the temperatures of the surface waters during this period.
The Laptev Sea is a marginal sea, which means that it is merely a small part of the ocean between the coastline and the larger ocean.
Marginal seas are usually shallower, closer to continents and other landmasses, and more prone to be influenced by human activities due to the close proximity to civilization. The river runoff into the Laptev Sea as well as other factors influences the sea surface temperature much more than it would in the open ocean.
The average Laptev Sea depth is 1,896 ft (578 m), with the deepest point being 11,108 ft (3,386 m)! However, the depth of this sea near the coast is quite shallow, and the maximum depth is still far less than the average depth of the Arctic ocean.
The Laptev Sea covers an area of 270,000 sq mi (699,297 sq km) and is bordered by the East Siberian Sea, Kara Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. It is surrounded by the landmasses of Russia, the New Siberian Islands, and the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago. The exact Laptev Sea length and Laptev Sea width are unknown.
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