Petr Petrovich Shirshov

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shirshov, Petr Petrovich


Born Dec. 12 (25), 1905, in Ekaterinoslav, now Dnepropetrovsk; died Feb. 17,1953, in Moscow. Soviet oceanographer, hydrobiologist, and polar explorer; state figure. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1939). Hero of the Soviet Union (1938). Member of the CPSU from 1938.

Shirshov graduated from the Odessa Institute of Public Education in 1929. From 1929 to 1932 he was a research worker at the Botanical Garden of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and from 1932 to 1936, at the All-Union Arctic Institute. Shirshov was a member of several arctic expeditions, including the expeditions on the vessels Sibiriakov (1932) and Cheliuskin (1933–34); he was also a member of the first Soviet drifting station, Severnyi Polius-I (1937–38).

Between 1942 and 1948, Shirshov was first people’s commissar and then minister of the Soviet merchant marine. The founder of the Institute of Oceanography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, he became the institute’s director in 1946. From 1946 to 1950 he also served as chairman of the Pacific Ocean Scientific Committee. He was a deputy to the first and second convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

Shirshov’s chief works dealt with the plankton of the polar seas. Shirshov disproved the hypothesis of the absence of life in the high latitudes of the Arctic Ocean and discovered a number of regularities in the distribution of warm water from the North Atlantic to the Arctic Basin.

Shirshov was awarded three Orders of Lenin, four other orders, and various medals. A bay on Franz Josef Land and an underwater ridge in the Bering Sea have been named after him, as has the Institute of Oceanography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.


Borogov, V. G. “Akademik Petr Petrovich Shirshov.” Izv. AN SSSR: Seriia geograficheskaia, 1953, no. 3.
Suziumov, E. M. “Poliarnik, akademik, ministr.” Morskoi flot, 1976, no. 1.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.