Rare early map depicting the Bering Strait and the newly discovered Aleutian Islands, shortly before the region was visited by Captain James Cook in 1778.
In 1741, Vitus Bering, a Dane in the service of Russia, and Aleksei Chirikov, a Russian, sailed into the region aboard the ships Saint Peter and Saint Paul on a voyage of discovery in the Northern Pacific. After the ships were separated by a storm; Chirikov discovered several eastern islands of the Aleutian group, and Bering discovered several of the western islands. Bering was shipwrecked and lost his life in the Komandorski Islands (Commander Islands); one of which now bears his name (Bering Island), along with the surrounding Bering Sea. The survivors of Bering's party reached the Kamchatka Peninsula in a boat constructed from the wreckage of their ship, and reported that the islands were rich in fur-bearing animals.
By 1760 the Russian merchant Andrian Tolstykh had made a detailed census in the vicinity of Adak and extended Russian citizenship to the Aleuts.
During his third and last voyage in 1778, Captain James Cook surveyed the eastern portion of the Aleutian archipelago, accurately determined the position of some of the more important islands, and corrected many errors of former navigators