Tourist Centre «The Arctic Circle»
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About the White Sea

Flora and Fauna

THE WHITE SEA is one of the most beautiful among the seas of Northern Russia. Being a part of Russia’s inland sea, it belongs to the Arctic Ocean basin. The White Sea contains a large number of islands, but most of them are small. Velikiy Island, located close to the shore, is the largest island in the Kandalaksha Gulf.

The nature here is untouched by man, and the local wildlife is rich and unique. The deserted seashores and numerous uninhabited islands provide scenic panoramas. Steep rocky shores are alternated with flat strips of taiga and mixed forest. In summer birds team-up on uninhabited islands to hatch eggs and rear their chicks. Every winter Greenland seals make their rookeries in the northern part of the White Sea and their calves are born there. The sea is also a home to White whales.

The underwater world of the White Sea boasts excellent scenery and fascinating marine life. A diver can see soft corals, sponges, starfish, crabs, hermit crabs, sea urchins, shrimps and sea anemones. Underwater rocks provide dwelling places for cod, wolffish, sea perch, butterfish and flounder. In winter wolffish, flounder and lumpfish allow divers come really close. 

Climate

The climate of the White Sea territory is very changeable and unpredictable as it is influenced by the continental and maritime air masses’ movement. The White Sea winter is long and severe. The mean temperature in February is -15°C over most of the sea, but it may rise up to -6°C due to the warm air masses from the Atlantic, while Arctic anticyclones may bring much colder weather with temperatures of about −25 °C and even -40°C. Summers are rather cool, cloudy and relatively humid, with north-eastern winds and frequent rains. Mean July temperatures are +8–12°C, though south-eastern winds may bring warm air from Europe, raising the temperature to +17–19°C and sometimes even to 30°C.

The surface water temperature varies greatly on a seasonal basis. In summer temperature reaches +9-15°C on the surface and goes down to +2-0°C at depth, while in winter it is below zero even on the surface (about -0.5°C) and goes down to -3°C at depth.

The maximum depth of the White Sea is 343 meters (1 115 feet) and the mean depth is 67 meters. Kandalaksha Gulf lies in the western part of the White Sea and is its deepest part. Salinity of the White Sea is 27.5–28 parts per thousand, that is lower than the mean salinity of the Arctic Ocean. Tides are regular and semi-diurnal. Tide speed varies from 0.1–4m/sec. Water visibility ranges from 10-20m. in summer to 15–50m. in winter season.

In winter the sea freezes but the freezing period varies from year to year. 90% of the ice in the White Sea is floating and its thickness is usually about 40cm. but may reach 150cm. in cold winters, while thickness of stationary ice at the shore and in shallow waters may reach several meters.