The location of the Barents Sea – Many names of the Barents Sea – The destructive meteorite – The Northern tropics – Amazing diving.

The peculiarity of the Barents Sea is created by its numerous islands, rugged shorelines, various capes, fiords, gulfs and bays.

The Barents Sea is relatively shallow, with its average depth being 222 m (728 ft) and its maximum depth reaching only 600 m (1967 ft).

Round stones on the shore of the Barents Sea

Round stones on the shore of the Barents Sea

Russia’s only ice-free Arctic port Murmansk (the port of the Northern Sea Route) is situated on the Barents Sea.

The location of the Barents Sea

The Barents Sea borders with northern Europe. It sweeps the coasts of Russia and Norway, as well as archipelagos Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya.

The shore of the Barents Sea

The shore of the Barents Sea

Many names of the Barents Sea

In the Middle Ages, the Barents Sea was depicted on geographical maps and international treaties under different names.

Throughout its history the Barents Sea had been called the North Sea, the Murman Sea, the Siverskoe Sea, the Arctic Sea and even the Moscow Sea.

The Russian name “the Barents Sea” (in the honour of the famous navigator and traveler, who died there) was ultimately adopted in the Soviet era.

Teriberka settlement. The Barents Sea

 Teriberka settlement. The Barents Sea

Teriberka settlement. The Barents Sea

Teriberka settlement. The Barents Sea

The influence of the Gulf Stream

The Barents Sea belongs to Arctic seas, being the only one which remains ice-free.

The sea is greatly influenced by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. As a result, its southern and western parts, which comprise a quarter of the total sea surface, do not freeze over.

This warm stream prevents the formation of old ice. Only the northern part of the sea is covered with old floes and contains detached icebergs.

The destructive meteorite

In 1993, Russian geologists discovered an iridium anomaly. Later, their Norwegian colleagues proved that this anomaly had appeared as a result of a huge asteroid (2 km/1.2 mi in diameter) falling into the Barents Sea more than 140 million years ago. Its explosion and the caused tsunami were so devastating that marks left by the meteorite can be found on the territory of modern France.

The fauna of the Barents Sea

The mixture of warm Atlantic and cold Arctic waters is especially rich in nutrients. Thus, the underwater fauna of the Barents Sea is as diversified as that of many tropical seas.

Among animals, living on the sea floor, are huge sea urchins, scallops, sea cucumbers, starfish and sea squirts. The most numerous fishes include cods, navagas, gobies, wolf fishes and rock fishes.

The red king crab holds a special position among the local fauna. In the Soviet time it was brought to the Barents Sea from the Kamchatka Peninsula and naturalized there quite successfully. Back then, people tended to “change” the nature to meet their needs. Nowadays, the red king crab grows up to 2 m (7 ft) wide! However, this dare experiment has its drawbacks, since the red king crab has displaced local species.

The Barents Sea is famous for the northernmost coral reefs and such rare animals as sperm whales, polar bears and others.

Being one of the most significant ecosystems, the Barents Sea plays a major role in preserving biological diversity of the Earth.

Diving in the Barents Sea

Underwater visibility ranges from 15 m (49 ft) to 40 m (131 ft).

Depending on the season, water temperatures can vary from 6 °C (43 °F) to 12 °C (54 °F) above zero.

The archipelago Seven Islands, Dolgaya Bay and Krasnaya Bay are considered to be the best places for diving. Being underwater, divers can see seals, belugas, orcas and finbacks.


The Barents Sea is justly regarded as the largest European fishing centre.

It is a perfect place for recreational fishing.

However, traditional tackle will not do. Locals use a special fishing gear, which is attached to a shipboard to catch deep sea species.

Fishers know many good places and use this information in practice. With the help of modern echo sounders, they manage to catch a lot of fish.

The caught fish gets scaled, cooked and served right away.

You will surely get a lasting impression after visiting bird colonies on the islands in the Barents Sea. There are nests of seagulls, guillemots, gannets and Atlantic puffins, which are not afraid of people.


Photos by Andrey Grachev

Some parts of this article are based on material of A. Minkina and V. Zacharov.

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