Vitus Jonassen Bering
Vitus Bering was a Danish navigator and notable explorer. He was born in Horsens, Jutland in 1681. When he was still a young man, he left for the sea, and spent most of his life exploring. He joined the Russian Navy in 1703, married and fathered several children.
Bering distinguished himself during Russia's war with Sweden, and when it concluded, he was employed by Russia to seek out the eastern-most limits of the north coast of Asia. In those days, much of the world was uncharted, and it was still not known whether Asia and America were connected or separate land masses. Bering left St. Petersburg on February 5, 1725 leading an expedition that travelled across Siberia and set up a base in Kamchatka. From here, they constructed ships and prepared for sea. In 1728, he sailed through the strait that now bears his name, proving that indeed America and Asia were separate continents. The expedition returned to St. Petersburg in 1730.
Russia commissioned Bering for another expedition, an enormous undertaking that became known as The Great Nordic Expedition. Some say that ten thousand men took part in the quest to map the Russian-Siberian coast, and the western coast of America, as far south as Mexico. It wasn't until 1740 that Bering reached Kamchatka, having spent the first years of the journey exploring northern Siberia. The 1733 expedition eventually spanned a decade. Bering sighted the volcano Mount Saint Elias in 1741, and sailed past Kodiak Island. Storms and sickness prevented Bering from completing his explorations, however. His ship became wrecked on a desolate island (later named for him), and Bering died on the island in December of 1741.
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