Kerch Strait / Sea of Azov
The Sea of Azov has the shallowest sea in the world, which proves one of historical versions of its name “low sea”. The above mentioned excludes the possibility of the submarine use, but increases effectiveness of sea mine weapon use. Next one. The Sea of Azov is “the freshest water” sea in the world. This is due to its isolation, shallowness and relatively high tides of such rivers as Don, Kuban, Yeya and Kalmius.
Due to the low saltiness, the Sea of Azov freezes fast in winter. By the amount of flora and fauna, the Sea of Azov is one of the most productive. Fish capacity in the Sea of Azov is 40 times higher than in the Black Sea and in 160 times higher than in the Mediterranean. Therefore, poaching is well developed from both sides. In addition, coastline of the Sea of Azov is favorable for recreation and tourism.
The Kerch-Yenikalsky Channel [not canal], which was first built in 1877 and used to be operated by Ukraine, is the only waterway through Kerch Strait that is navigable by large ships. Smaller vessels can use the Russian fairway passages #50 and #52 situated east of the channel. On average, about 20,000 ships pass through the Kerch Strait annually. Kerch Strait [Kerchenskiy Proliv], which unites the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, is 27 miles in length, and varies in width from 8 miles at its southern and northern entrances to only 1 mile in the narrows between Cape Pavloski (Paul) and Tuzla Spit.
It is much encumbered with shallow banks, but a narrow channel has been dredged through, which vessels drawing up to 24 feet are permitted to use. There is an almost constant current from the Sea of Azov, having a velocity of 1 to 2 knots. It acquires its greatest strength in spring and autumn, and with a strong east-northeast wind blowing, attains, in the narrows of the strait, a velocity of 5 knots. It runs, however, fairly through.
A continuance of strong northeasterly winds will increase the depths in the strait by as much as 2£ feet. Southwesterly winds under the same circumstances will decrease the depths in the strait by 1 foot or more. After the subsidence of prolonged northeasterly winds, the current in the narrows will be found setting toward the Sea of Azov, and this will continue until the ordinary water level is reestablished. In view of the frequent grounding of vessels entering Kertch Strait, mariners are reminded that this bank can not be distinguished by discoloration of the water.
Kerch Fort stands on Cape Pavlovski and covers the adjacent heights, which rise 864 feet above the sea. The town of Kerch, which presents a pleasing aspect, occupies the site of the ancient Greek colony of Panticapseum, once the queen city of the Cimmerian Bosporus, now Kertch Strait. The name Kertch, or more properly Kerch, is a corruption of the name Kherseti, which the Turks gave to the fortress erected here by the Genoese.
The Sea of Azov (Azóvskoje móre) is a comparatively small body of water located between 45°5 and 47°5 N latitude, and 35°5 and 39°5 E longitude. Its area is 38,000 km2, and the volume is about 320 km3. The Sea of Azov is shallow. Its maximum depth is approximately 13 meters, with an average depth of about 8 meters. The name of the Sea of Azov is derived from a settlement near Azov or Asoph, whose name comes from the Kipchak Turkish asak or azaq ("lowlands"). Russian folk etymology derives the name from an eponymous Cuman prince named "Azum" or "Asuf", said to have been killed defending his town in 1067.
In ancient times it was referred to as the Maeotis Swamp [Palus Maeotis]. At the time of Strabo in the parts near the mouth of the Palus Maeotis, the frost was so strong that a general of Mithridates defeated the barbarians here in a cavalry engagement during the winter, and on the very same spot in a naval fight in summer, when the ice was thawed. A tendency existed — for example, in Ptolemy's work — to exaggerate the size of the Palus Maeotis, making it stretch far to the north.
The country bordering on the Palus Maeotis and the Bosporus, which was inhabited by the Cimmerii, is represented by the ancients as an inhospitable place, covered with thick forests, and continual fogs, which the rays of the sun could not break through. This frightful description gave Cicero and Ovid occasion to say, that an eternal night reigned in this gloomy climate, and that sleep had taken up its abode here; and hence “Cimmerian darkness” became, according to Lactantius, a proverb, signifying an impenetrable darkness.
The sea is an important source of fish protein and, thus, is an important resource to the Rostov Region of the U.S.S.R. One hundred and four species of fish have been identified in the bay, nine of which comprise 90% of the fish biomass. Also, 332 phytoplankton species, 155 zooplankton species, and 180 benthos species have been identified.
Large quantities of materials from the Sea of Azov drainage basin and hydrological modifications on the major rivers have had considerable impact on water quality, and subsequent effects on biological processes. The most common pollution components are oxygen demanding materials (BOD), wastes from petroleum production, phenolic compounds, detergents, pesticides, and nutrients. The content of heavy metal salts in the pelagic zone of the sea are at the level of the natural geochemical background.
The Black Sea is an inland sea lying between southeastern Europe and Asia Minor. The S part of the Black Sea is connected to the E end of the Mediterranean Sea by Istanbul Bogazi (The Bosporus), Marmara Denizi (Sea of Marmara), and Canakkale Bogazi (The Dardanelles). Kerch Strait, on the NE side of the Black Sea, leads N to the Sea of Azov. The climate of the area varies from fine hot sunny summers of the Mediterranean type to the very cold winters which are substantially colder than conditions in the Mediterranean Sea. Most disturbed weather occurs in winter and is usually associated with depressions moving E across the area.
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