The village of Savoonga, with a population of about 700, spreads along the shores of St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea, giving residents a ringside seat to the effects of climate change. Most residents are Siberian Yup’ik, a Native people who also live along the northeast Russia coast. Image by Steve Ringman. United States, 2019.
The village of Savoonga, with a population of about 700, spreads along the shores of St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea, giving residents a ringside seat to the effects of climate change. Most residents are Siberian Yup’ik, a Native people who also live along the northeast Russia coast. Image by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times. United States, 2019.

Scientists once thought that an ice-free Bering Sea was decades into the future of a body of water — stretching from Alaska to Russia — that produces some of the biggest seafood harvests on the planet. The ice that forms in the winter serves as a giant platform for algae production that is a key component of the food chain.

But as the pace of climate change intensifies, the Bering Sea has been largely ice-free the past two winters, with what appears to be far-reaching consequences for marine life and the people—ranging from Seattle-based fishermen to the  Yup'ik Eskimo of Savoonga, Alaska—who harvest this bounty.

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