Kamchatka expedition II

Автор: Maks Дек 10, 2020

Vitus Bering’s first expedition, 1725—1730, left unanswered a number of questions posed by those in command of the Russian Empire.

They were particularly eager to learn whether there was an ocean channel between Asia and North America or whether the two continents were joined at some pint between the northern Pacific and Arctic oceans. On his first voyage Bering had sailed in his clipper, the St. Gabriel, out of Lower Kamchatka, round the Cape of Chukotka and into what may have been a strait.

But since he had not sailed far enough northward to enter the Arctic Ocean to discern whether the continents did indeed form a single land mass, a second attempt had to be made.

Bering’s second voyage was initially called the First Academy Expedition since it was initiated by the newly founded Russian Academy of Science. Only when the full magnitude of the voyage was realized did it come to be known as the Great Northern Expedition.

More than six hundred men left on the voyage, sailing in thirteen ships. For some twelve years they sailed along the northern and eastern shores of Russia, from Arkhangelsk to Japan, while simultaneously exploring much of Siberia.

Among their geographical discoveries were the Shumangin Islands, Tuman Islands and several islands of the Aleutian chain. The voyageurs investigated and mapped out thousands of miles of coastline, studied the direction of current in Russia’s mightiest northern and eastern rivers and explored Lake Baikal.

The expedition party that spent most of its time on land wrote descriptions of their journey that contained invaluable information about the wilderness they found, the local tribal inhabitants and the natural resources they observed. The artists among them drew pictures with photographic accuracy, sketching the mountains and other topographic configurations of Siberia.

Although reams of pages of original notes have, for various reasons, disappeared I over the past two and a half centuries, the thousands of copies that were made by the explorers on the instructions of their leaders have been preserved in the St. Petersburg archives of the Academy of Science.

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