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A map showing the location of the Laptev Sea.

The Laptev Sea (Russian: мо́ре Ла́птевых) is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. It is located between the eastern coast of Siberia, Taimyr Peninsula, the Severnaya Zemlya and the New Siberian Islands. Its northern boundary passes from the Arctic Cape to point with coordinates 79°N and 139°E and closes at the Anisiy Cape. The Kara Sea lies to the west, the East Siberian Sea to the east. The sea area is approximately 672,000 km². It is navigable during August and September.

The Laptev Sea is named after Russian explorers Dmitry Laptev and Khariton Laptev. Formerly the Laptev Sea had been known as Nordenskjold Sea (Russian: мо́ре Норденшельда), after explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld.[1]



The mighty Lena River, with its great delta, is the biggest river flowing into the Laptev Sea. Other important rivers include the Khatanga, the Anabar, the Olenyok or Olenek, the Omoloy and the Yana.

The main gulfs of the Laptev Sea coast are theKhatanga Gulf, the Olenyok Gulf, the Buor-Khaya Gulf and the Yana Bay.



The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Laptev Sea as follows:[2]

On the West. The Eastern limit of Kara Sea [Komsomolets Island from Cape Molotov to South Eastern Cape; thence to Cape Vorochilov, Oktiabrskaya Revolutziya Island to Cape Anuchin. Then to Cape Unslicht on Bolshevik Island. Bolshevik Island to Cape Yevgenov. Thence to Cape Pronchisthehev on the main land (see Russian chart No. 1484 of the year 1935)].

On the North. A line joining Cape Molotov to the Northern extremity of Kotelni Island (76°10′N 138°50′E / 76.167°N 138.833°E / 76.167; 138.833).

On the East. From the Northern extremity of Kotelni Island – through Kotelni Island to Cape Madvejyi. Then through Malyi Island [Little Lyakhovsky Island], to Cape Vaguin on Great Liakhov Island. Thence to Cape Sviaroy Noss on the main land.


An early French 18th-century cartographer called the Laptev Sea "Lena Gulf" (Golfe du Len), mentioning that the behemot (walrus?) fishery is conducted there, but the navigation is difficult

In 1712 Yakov Permyakov and his companion Merkury Vagin explored the eastern part of the Laptev Sea and discovered Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island. Unfortunately Permyakov and Vagin were killed on the way back from their exploration by mutineering expedition members.

In 1735, Russian explorer of Siberia Vasili Pronchishchev sailed from Yakutsk down the Lena River on his sloop Yakutsk. He explored the eastern coast of the Lena delta, and stopped for wintering at the mouth of the Olenyok River. Unfortunately many members of his crew fell ill and died, mainly owing to scurvy. Despite these difficulties, in 1736, he reached the eastern shore of the Taymyr Peninsula and went north surveying its coastline. Pronchishchev and his wife Maria (also referred to as Tatyana Feodorovna) succumbed to scurvy and died on the way back.

Exploration by the Laptevs

During the 1739—1742 Second Kamchatka Expedition Russian Arctic explorer and Vice Admiral Dmitry Laptev described the sea coastline from the mouth of the Lena River, along the Buor-Khaya and Yana gulfs, to the strait that bears his name, Dmitry Laptev Strait. As part of the same expedition, Dmitry's cousin Khariton Laptev's led a party that surveyed the coast of the Taimyr Peninsula starting from the mouth of the Khatanga River.

In 1892-1894, and again in 1900-1902, Baron Eduard Von Toll explored the Laptev Sea in the course of two separate expeditions. Toll carried out geological and geographical surveys in the area on behalf of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences. In his last expedition Toll disappeared off the New Siberian Islands under mysterious circumstances.

Increased navigation during Soviet times

The shore of the Anabar Bay.

During Soviet times the Laptev Sea coastal areas experienced a limited boom owing to the first icebreaker convoys plying the Northern Sea Route and the creation of the Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route. Tiksi had an active airport and Nordvik harbor further west was "a growing town,"[3] though it closed in 1956.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union commercial navigation in the Siberian Arctic went into decline in the 1990s. More or less regular shipping is to be found only from Murmansk to Dudinka in the west and between Vladivostok and Pevek in the east. Ports between Dudinka and Pevek see next to no shipping at all. Logashkino was abandoned and is now a ghost town.

Name changes

The Laptev Sea changed its name several times. It was apparently known in the 16th century as the Tatar Sea (Russian: Татарское мо́ре). In the 17th century, it was known as the Lena Sea (Russian: Ленское мо́ре). In the 18th century, it was known as the Siberian Sea (Russian: Сибирское мо́ре). In the 19th century, it was known as the Icy Sea (Russian: Ледовитое мо́ре). It acquired its name as Nordenskjold Sea (Russian: мо́ре Норденшельда) in 1893. And in 1913, it finally received its current name as the Laptev Sea.[4]

The latter renaming is believed to have been the initiative of a Russian geographer Yuly Shokalsky.


  1. ^ Colliers Encyclopedia
  2. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 19 December 2009.  
  3. ^ William Barr, The First Soviet Convoy to the Mouth of the Lena
  4. ^ "History of Norilsk and Taimyr", a website from Krasnoyarsk region (Russian)

External links

Coordinates: 75°25′04″N 125°44′25″E / 75.41778°N 125.74028°E / 75.41778; 125.74028


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