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 bound to the north by the Ukraine, to the east by Russia and to the west by the Crimean peninsula. To the west also lie the 110 km Arabat Spit and the highly saline marshy inlets of the Syvash.
The sea is 340 km long and 135 km wide and has an area of 37,555 km2 (14,500 mi2). The main rivers flowing into the sea are the Don and Kuban, they ensure that the waters of the sea are comparatively low in salt and almost fresh in places, they 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, where the silt has built up such as the Gulf of Taganrog the average depth is less than 1 metre. The prevaling 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.
Significant ports on the sea are Berdyansk, Mariupol, Rostov-na-Donu, Taganrog, Yeysk and Zhdanov. Two canals enter into the sea the Volga-Don Canal and a link to the Caspian Sea through the Manych Canal. The sea has a number of significant fisheries and is been exploited for gas and oil extraction.
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.