About Kara Sea, facts and maps

Covering an area of 880,000 km2, the Kara Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean that is located to the north of Siberia, Russia. In a few 17th-century documents, the sea was called Narzemsky. It was then named after the river Kara, which flows into Baydaratskaya Bay. It is an insignificant water body politically but once played a crucial role in the Russian conquest of North Siberia.

Fish found in the Kara Sea include cod, salmon, and sturgeon. The sea’s mammals include the seal, sea hare, white whale, walrus, and polar bear. The Kara Sea is on the Russian Northern Sea route. The main port along it is Dikson.

The Kara Sea is an epicontinental shelf sea on the northern border of Soviet Russia. The area is of interest to ocean scientists because of its influence on deep ocean water and, by controlling the formation of ice, on weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere.

Its main ports are Novy Port and Dikson and it is important as a fishing ground although the sea is ice-bound for all but two months of the year.

Where does Russia dump its nuclear waste?

The Russian navy has traditionally dealt with virtually all of its radioactive wastes by disposal to sea. Many areas of the Barents, Kola and the Sea of Japan are heavily contaminated.

Is the Kara Sea radioactive?

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Low-level liquid waste was simply poured into the sea. Norwegian experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are satisfied that there is no evidence of a radiation leak – the Kara Sea’s radioisotope levels are normal.

What fish are in the Kara Sea?

Also halibut is living in the Kara Sea and the waters are rich on polar cod, capelin, in flounder, perch and snow crab.

What is the most radioactive ocean?

The plant releases some 2.3 million gallons (9 million liters) of contaminated waste into the sea on a daily basis, making the Irish Sea the most radioactive sea in the world.

Physical dimensions of the Kara Sea
The Kara Sea covers an enormous area covering 340,000 square miles or 880,000 square kilometres. The average depth of the water body is 417 ft or 127 m, and the maximum depth is 2034 ft or 620 m. Its mean depth is around 110 m or 360 ft. It is approximately 1450 kilometres or 900 miles long and 970 kilometres or 600 miles broad.

Formed in the last ice age between 100,000-25,000 years ago

The Kara Sea was formed in the last ice age, which began 100,000 years ago and lasted until 25,000 years ago. It was created in the process of deglaciation, which simply means the melting of a glacier or the retreat of an ice sheet in a region.

Known as one of the coldest seas in the world

The Kara Sea witnesses extreme temperatures making it one of the world’s coldest seas. Most of the year, it is covered with ice, and ships can sail only in August and September.

The Kara Sea waters have varying levels of salinity.

The waters of the Kara Sea have different levels of salinity, and it varies greatly. Near the mouth of the Ob and Yenisey rivers, the salinity is about 10 to 12 ppt as the sea gets abundant freshwater from the rivers. However, near Franz Josef Land, the salinity is 33 ppt.

The sea derives its name from the Kara River

The Kara Sea is called by many other names, such as the Russian Karskoye or the Karskoje More. It was once known as the Mare Glaciale and the Oceanus Scythicus in the 15th to the 16th centuries and was represented by either of the two names on the geographical maps of those times. In a few 17th-century documents, the sea was called Narzemsky.

It Lies on the Russian northern sea route and has two important ports

The northern sea route is the shortest maritime route linking the Far East with the European part of Russia and lies along the Kara Sea. Two major ports in the Kara Sea are Dikson and Novy Port which export furs, foodstuff, timber, building material and fish during the two months when the sea is not completely frozen.

Kara Sea is an important part of the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve

Founded in 1993, the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve is unique and one of a kind. It is in Russia and includes 4000 square kilometres of Kara Sea islands.

The Kara Sea has many islands that differ greatly in topography and geography. Some have high mountain peaks, others are covered with ice, and others are sandy.

Kara Sea has diverse arctic marine life.

Most of the sea is covered with ice and freezes in winter; however, it thrives with life. Aquatic animals and plants are found in abundance. About 54 species of fish are found in the Kara Sea.

Fishing is done in the two months of August and September. The Kara Sea has molluscs, salmon, sharks, cod, billfish, anchovies, herring, tuna, rays, sturgeons and white whales.

Kara Sea is polluted by nuclear waste dumped by the erstwhile Soviet Union between 1965-1988.

Per reports, the Kara Sea suffers from the effects of nuclear waste dumped into it during the cold war era. Radioactive waste from 14 nuclear reactors and 19 vessels, a k-27 nuclear submarine and over 700 heavy machinery parts with radioactive material was thrown into the water by the erstwhile Soviet Union. Later, it was polluted by Russia.

This nuclear waste is a threat to nations like Norway and Finland, but the largest threat is to Russia. However, the Russian government has yet to take any significant steps to prevent or stop additional dumping into the waters of the Kara Sea.

However, Bellona, a non-profit organisation based in Russia, is trying to bring the issue of nuclear waste dumping into the Arctic region to the centre stage. It strives to solve this environmental issue with the help of other countries.

A Reservoir of natural resources

The Kara Sea has become famous lately due to the discovery of natural gas reserves and significant petroleum reserves close to the Ob and Yenisey rivers. These deposits are being explored and have not been developed for commercial purposes.