Behring, Or Bering, Vitas, a navigator in the Russian service, born at Horsens, Denmark, in 1680, died Dec. 8, 1741. He entered the Russian naval service in 1704, was made captain by Peter the Great, served with distinction in the war between Russia and Sweden, and in 1725 was placed in command of an expedition of discovery in the arctic seas. Returning from this, he was in 1728 placed in command of another expedition to the seas bordering upon N. E. Siberia. The explorations connected with the expedition lasted several years, in the course of which he discovered that the continents of Asia and America were separated by the narrow strait which bears his name. On June 4, 1741, he again set sail from Okhotsk, in command of two vessels. He sailed apparently as far as lat. 69° N., but stormy weather and sickness in his crews compelled him to return. He was wrecked on a desolate island in lat. 55° 22'N., lon. 166° E., where he died. This island, and the sea in which it lies, still bear his name.

He founded the Russian settlement of Petropavlovsk in Kamtchatka.