Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea is a briny Mediterranean Sea that is located between Central and Northern Europe. It’s bordered by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Danish islands, and the mainland of Europe. It drains into the Kattegat via the Oresund, the Great Belt and the Little Belt. The Kattegat continues through Skagerrak into the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. The Baltic Sea is connected by waterways that are man-made to the White Sea by means of the White Sea Canal, and to the North Sea by means of the Kiel Canal. This sea might be considered to be bordered on the northern rim by the Gulf of Bothnia, on the northeastern rim by the Gulf of Finland, and on the eastern rim by the Gulf of Riga. These various gulfs can be considered to be included in the Baltic Sea also.

This sea is a brackish inland sea, possibly the largest body of salty water in the world. It occupies a basin created by glacial erosion during the last few ice ages.

The Baltic Sea is approximately 1,000 miles in length, an average of 120 miles in width, and an average of 55 meters in depth. The maximum depth is 1,506 feet which is on the Swedish side of the center. The area of the surface is roughly 145,522 square miles and the volume is around 5,040 cubic miles. The outside edges amounts to roughly 5,000 miles of coastline.

The northern portion of the Baltic Sea is recognized as the Gulf of Bothnia, of which the northernmost point is the Bay of Bothnia or otherwise known as Bothnian Bay. The southern basin of the gulf that is more rounded is called Bothnian Sea and immediately to the south of it sits the Sea of Aland. The Baltic Sea is connected with Saint Petersburg via the Gulf of Finland. The Gulf of Riga is situated between the Latvian capital city of Riga and the Estonian island of Saaremaa.

Roughly 38,610 square miles of the seafloor in the Baltic Sea, which is a quarter of its total area, is a variable dead zone. The more saline, and therefore denser, water stays on the bottom, cutting it off from the surface waters and the atmosphere. This causes a decrease in the oxygen concentrations within the zone. It’s mostly bacteria that grow in it, digesting organic matter and releasing hydrogen sulfide. Due to this large anaerobic zone, the floor’s ecology is different from that of the neighboring Atlantic.

Image Caption: Baltic Sea. Credit: Argonowski/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)