Vitus Bering (1681)close
Though not an Alaskan by birth, Danish explorer Vitus Bering had a great impact on the future of Alaska as Europeans learned about it. Bering acted as an explorer for Russia in the early 1700's, sailing the ocean east of Siberia, looking for passage from Russia to North America. He discovered that the Kamchatka Peninsula and North America were not connected by land. He eventually landed in Alaska in 1741, claiming it for Russia. Traveling with him was naturalist George Stellar who documented many of the animal species of Alaska's waterways and skies. The Bering Sea and Strait are named for the explorer who perished on an island between Alaska and Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula not long after he finally landed in Alaska. His grave was discovered there in 1991.
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