The shallow Sea of Azov is clearly distinguished from the deeper Black Sea.
The Sea of Azov (Azovskoye More) is a northern section of the Black Sea, linked to the larger body through the Kerch Strait. It is bounded on the north by Ukraine, on the east by Russia and on the west by the Crimeanpeninsula. To the west also lie the 110 km Arabat Spit and the highly saline marshy inlets of the Syvash. In Hellenic Greek, it was known as the Maeotian Lake or Maeotian Sea.
The sea is 340 km long and 135 km wide and has an area of 37,555 km (14,500 mi ). The main rivers flowing into the sea are the Don and Kuban; they ensure that the waters of the sea are comparatively low in salinity and almost fresh in places, and also bring huge volumes of silt into the sea. The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world with an average depth of only 13 metres; in fact, where the silt has built up, such as the Gulf of Taganrog, the average depth is less than 1 metre. The prevailing current in the sea is a counter-clockwise swirl; the tides are variable but can peak at over 5 metres. In the winter large portions of the sea can be ice-bound.
Historically the sea has had a rich variety of marine life, with over eighty fish species identified as well as 300 varieties of invertebrates. Diversity and numbers have been reduced by over-fishing and increasing levels of pollution.
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