Sea of Azov

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Azov, Sea of,

Gr. Maiotis, Lat. Palus Maeotis, ancient Rus. Surozhskoye, northern arm of the Black Sea, c.14,000 sq mi (36,300 sq km), shared by S European Russia and E Ukraine. The shallow sea (maximum depth 45 ft/13 m) is connected with the Black Sea by the Kerch Strait. Its chief arms are the Gulf of Taganrog (in the northeast) and the Sivash Sea (in the west), which is nearly isolated from the Sea of Azov by Arabat Tongue, a narrow sandspit. The Don and Kuban rivers flow into the sea, supplying it with an abundance of freshwater but also depositing the silt that tends to make the sea more shallow. The Sea of Azov has important fisheries and accounts for a large portion of the freshwater catch of Russia and Ukraine. The major ports are Rostov-na-Donu, Taganrog, Zhdanov, Kerch, and Berdyansk. The sea's importance increased with the opening of the Volga–Don Canal; the Manych Canal connects the Sea of Azov with the Caspian Sea.

Azov, Sea of


a mediterranean sea in the basin of the Atlantic Ocean, in the southern European USSR. It is connected with the Black Sea by the Kerch’ Strait. It has an area of 38,000 sq km, an average depth of 8 m, and a maximum depth of 14 m. The average volume of water is 320 cu km. The shores in the west, north, and east are chiefly lowland and are composed of sand and shell deposits; in the south, the shore is predominantly precipitous. A characteristic feature of the shores of the Sea of Azov is the presence of sand spits (Arabatsk Strelka, Fedotov, Berdiansk, Eisk, and others) which separate a series of shallow bays (Sivash, Obitochnyi, and others) and estuaries from the sea. Some of the estuaries are lightly connected to the sea (Eisk and Beisug), and the others are separated from it by sand bars (Lake Molochnoe, Dolgii Estuary, and so forth). There are the large open bays of Taganrog in the northwest, Tem-riuk in the southeast, and Arabat in the southwest. Small lowland islands such as Biriuchii, Peschanye, and Chere-pakha are located close to the shores. The Sea of Azov receives two major rivers, the Don and the Kuban’, as well as numerous small rivers such as the Mius, the Berdia, and the Obitochnaia. The relief of the sea bottom is even, with a slight slope toward the center. The bottom is composed of sand, shell, and silt. Mud volcanoes are characteristic in the southeastern portion of the sea.

The climate in the region of the Sea of Azov is continental. The winter is cold and relatively dry, and strong northeasterly and easterly winds prevail. The mean air temperature in January and February varies from - 1°C in the south to -6°C in the north, with minimum temperatures of -30°C and below. The summer is hot and relatively wet, with prevailing westerly winds. The mean temperature in July is 23.5°C or 24.5°C, with a maximum of 40°C. Precipitation varies from 312 mm to 528 mm per year, with the predominant share falling in the summer months (1.5–2 times as much as in the other seasons).

The hydrological regime of the Sea of Azov is determined by its continental position, the climate, the river drainage, the water exchange through the Kerch’ Strait, and human activity on the drainage territory. Of basic significance is the freshwater component of the water balance, which is calculated as a yearly average of the continental drainage (39.6 cu km) and precipitation (13.5 cu km), minus evaporation (33.9 cu km); the surplus of fresh water over the year is 17.4 cu km, and this flows out through the Kerch’ Strait. The currents have a general counterclockwise circulation, but under the influence of the easterly and northeasterly winds they can move in the opposite direction. The water temperature has a sharp annual fluctuation. In the winter it drops below 0°C, and in the summer it reaches 25°C or 30°C. Water salinity in the south is 11 parts per thousand and in the remaining portion of the sea 9–10 parts per thousand, and in the river mouth areas it declines to 2–4 parts per thousand. The average water level in the Sea of Azov fluctuates significantly from year to year (sometimes as much as 33 cm). The episodic differences in the level depend chiefly upon the winds, and can be as much as 5.5 m. Ice appears in November and December in Taganrog Bay, and by the end of February and the beginning of March, the entire area of the sea is covered with ice. The ice begins to disappear in March and April.

The fish resources of the Sea of Azov are significant because of the exceptional biological productivity of the sea, which has a content of organic matter that is five or six times greater than that of other marine bodies of water. Commercially exploited fishes include sturgeon, bream, zander, sea roach, Azov vimba (rybets), shemaia, gobies, herring, anchovy, and tiulka. The Sea of Azov also has great importance as a transportation seaway for cargo and passenger traffic. The main ports are Taganrog, Zhdanov, Eisk, and Berdiansk.


Dobrovol’skii, A. D., and B. S. Zalogin. Moria SSSR. Moscow, 1965.


References in periodicals archive ?
The foundation of natural carcass of Rostov agglomeration is formed by the system of water objects: Taganrog Gulf of Azov sea and river Don with numerous confluents.
On Sunday, the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) said that two Ukrainian naval vessels, patrolling the shore of the Azov Sea near the restive Mariupol town in the east, were attacked from the shore with an artillery fire.
Last night, US Senator Robert Menendez called on America to arm the embattled Ukrainian troops, and pro-Moscow forces claimed responsibility for a fatal attack on a Ukrainian ship in the Azov Sea, off Mariupol.
Ukrainian troops and local residents were reinforcing the port of Mariupol on Sunday, the next big city in the path of pro-Russian fighters who pushed back government forces along the Azov Sea this past week in an offensive on a new front.
The reported incursion and shelling could indicate an attempt to move on Mariupol, a major port on the Azov Sea, an arm of the Black Sea.
The Azov Sea port sits along the main road leading from Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in March from Ukraine.
The same storm in narrow straits between the Black Sea and Azov Sea also sank at least four freighters, three carrying sulphur and one with a cargo of scrap metal.
Residents of Mariupol, a strategic government-held port on the Azov Sea south of the main insurgent bastion of Donetsk, were fleeing on Friday after rebels seized several villages nearby.
His visit came as at least three people were killed in a clash between government forces and rebels in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol and the police station in the Azov Sea city of nearly 500,000 was ablaze.
The violence in the strategic port of Mariupol on the Azov Sea -- along the main road between the Russian border and the Crimean Peninsula -- was a clear sign of increasing unrest in eastern Ukraine.
The case of a donkey, which was sent parasailing by entrepreneurs over the Azov Sea, raised protests among local residents and from animals' rights activists worldwide.
Rescue officials said three people died in the high winds which hit the narrow Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea on Sunday.