Those who want to smell drift ice can go on a trip aboard an icebreaker ship from Hokkaido on the coast of Japan to the Sea of Okhotsk. This can really be an exciting experience that starts with a train journey through a snowy landscape towards the sea coast, but you do not have to travel to Japan to get close to this sea, it also has a coast to Russia (in the north), Kamchatka (in the east) and the Kuriles (in the southeast). This sea is a fascinating place that is largely frozen between November and June. The deepest point of the sea is about 3,363 meters but the average depth is about 800 meters.
The icy sea
The fact that the Okhotsk Sea is usually covered by ice is generally known, but it is not the case that the entire sea is under ice during the coldest months and it is possible to get out on the water with the help of icebreakers. The reason why this sea is prone to freezing is that it gets a lot of fresh water from the Amur River, which reduces the salinity of the sea, which in turn means that the melting point is also raised. Because of this, ice can form faster. In addition to the Okhotsk Sea being filled with drift ice, it is also often very stormy and foggy. This sometimes makes it dangerous to travel on the water.
Plenty of fish
This sea is very important for the Russian fishing industry as there is plenty of fish in it. As the greater part of the sea is surrounded by Russian territory, Russia is also responsible for the greater part of the fishing in it. During the 19th century, this was also an important zone for whaling. Great focus was on hunting Greenland whales and when the hunt was most intense, there were about 160 ships in the region and some of these came from the United States. The election hunt lasted until the beginning of the 20th century when it slowed down.
Oil and gas
When talking about the Okhotsk Sea, the natural resources of oil and gas must be mentioned. According to Russian surveys, there should be 29 different zones with gas and oil in this sea. These are areas close to the coasts and it has been calculated that this could be as much as 1.2 billion tonnes of crude oil as well as 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, so these are assets that are incredibly important for Russia.
Important ports on the Okhotsk Sea
There are of course several important ports around the Okhotsk Sea and many of these are located in Japan such as Abashiri, Monbetsu and Wakkanai which are all located in the Japanese region of Hokkaido. Important Russian ports are Magadan and Palana. Magadan was founded in 1921 and during Stalin’s time it was a kind of transit center for prisoners who were sent to labor camps. Even in more modern times, this city has been associated with slave labor, such as when it has been a center for the extraction of gold, which has since been passed on via the port. Today, shipbuilding and fishing are the most important for the city’s economy, but the extraction of gold is also an important source of income.