On 28 April 1789 a group of sailors led by Fletcher Christian seized control of HMS Bounty. Seeking to escape the inevitable British punishment, Christian and eight mutineers, along with 12 women (whom they took as wives) and six men from Tahiti, settled Pitcairn, a volcanic island first sighted in 1767. Every Eden has its serpents, however, and all the Tahitian men and nearly all the mutineers died when the Tahitians revolted. Other mutineers died from alcohol, internecine violence, and disease until only John Adams remained. Under his stewardship, peace returned, and the surviving 10 women and 23 children persevered. Today, Pitcairn remains isolated and rarely visited, inhabited by roughly 60 direct descendants of the Bounty mutineers.
More than 60 years earlier, and thousands of miles north of Pitcairn, Danish sea captain Vitus Bering undertook two voyages of geopolitical and scientific significance. Tsar Peter the Great commissioned Bering to explore the Siberian Far East and Alaska, to determine if Asia and America were separate continents, and to map the American west coast. During his explorations Bering discovered the southern route around Kamchatka; founded the town of Petropavlosk; built two ships, the St. Peter and St. Paul; and sighted the Alaskan mainland.
Returning to Russia, the St. Peter wrecked on an uninhabited island Bering. He, along with almost half the crew, died of scurvy and was interred on the island. Although Bering perished, his explorations had a lasting and profound impact on the exploration and settlement of the Russian Far East and the west coast of North America - the sea, strait, and island named for him reflecting his importance
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