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A bay is a recessed,
coastal The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the sea or ocean, or as a line that forms the boundary between the land and the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body ...
body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such as an
ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
, a
lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a Depression (geology), basin, surrounded by land, and set apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie on land and are not part of the World Ocean, oc ...

lake
, or another bay. A large bay is usually called a
gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, typically with a narrower opening than a bay (geography), bay, but that is not observable in all geographic areas so named. The term gulf was traditionally used for large highly-indented ...
,
sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
sea
,
sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and their ''perception'' by the br ...
, or bight. A
cove A cove is a small type of bay or coastal inlet. Coves usually have narrow, restricted entrances, are often circular or oval, and are often situated within a larger bay. Small, narrow, sheltered bays, inlets, creek (tidal), creeks, or recesses in a ...
is a small, circular bay with a narrow entrance. A
fjord In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the process ...

fjord
is a particularly steep bay shaped by glacial activity. A bay can be the
estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime envir ...

estuary
of a river, such as the
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary in the United States. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula (including the parts: the E ...
, an estuary of the
Susquehanna River The Susquehanna River (; Unami language, Lenape: Siskëwahane) is a major river located in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, overlapping between the lower Northeastern United States, Northeast and the Upla ...

Susquehanna River
. Bays may also be nested within each other; for example,
James Bay James Bay (french: Baie James, cr, Wînipekw) is a large body of water located on the southern end of Hudson Bay in Canada. Both bodies of water extend from the Arctic Ocean, of which James Bay is the southernmost part. It borders the Canadian p ...
is an arm of
Hudson Bay Hudson Bay ( iu, text=ᑲᖏᖅᓱᐊᓗᒃ ᐃᓗᐊ, translit=Kangiqsualuk ilua or iu, text=ᑕᓯᐅᔭᕐᔪᐊᖅ, translit=Tasiujarjuaq; french: baie d'Hudson), sometimes called Hudson's Bay (usually historically), is a large body of salt ...
in northeastern Canada. Some large bays, such as the
Bay of Bengal The Bay of Bengal is the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean, bounded on the west and northwest by India, on the north by Bangladesh, and on the east by Myanmar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. Its southern limit is a line between ...
and Hudson Bay, have varied
marine geology Marine geology or geological oceanography is the study of the history and structure of the ocean floor. It involves geophysical, geochemical, sedimentological and paleontological investigations of the ocean floor and coastal zone. Marine ge ...
. The land surrounding a bay often reduces the strength of
wind Wind is the natural movement of air or other gases relative to a planet's surface. Wind occurs on a range of scales, from thunderstorm flows lasting tens of minutes, to local breezes generated by heating of land surfaces and lasting a few hours, ...

wind
s and blocks
wave In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through ...

wave
s. Bays may have as wide a variety of shoreline characteristics as other shorelines. In some cases, bays have
beach A summer tourism at the Yyteri Beach in Pori, Finland">Pori.html" ;"title="Yyteri Beach in Pori">Yyteri Beach in Pori, Finland. A beach is a landform alongside a body of water which consists of loose particles. The particles composing a b ...
es, which "are usually characterized by a steep upper foreshore with a broad, flat fronting terrace".Maurice Schwartz, ''Encyclopedia of Coastal Science'' (2006), p. 129. Bays were significant in the history of
human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with ...
because they provided safe places for
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are often caught Wild fisheries, in the wild but may also be caught from Fish stocking, stocked bodies of water. Fishing techniques, Techniques for catching fish include Gathering seafood by ...

fishing
. Later they were important in the development of sea
trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of ru ...

trade
as the safe
anchor '' in Portsall, north-west Brittany (administrative region), Brittany, France An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, used to secure a Watercraft, vessel to the Seabed, bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to L ...
age they provide encouraged their selection as
port The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front), the thumb is the outermost digit ...

port
s.


Definition

The
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania United is located in Mount Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. It is a community located near Norvelt, Pennsylvania. History In 1881, the United Coal Company, United Coal & Cok ...

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS) defines a bay as a well-marked indentation whose penetration is in such proportion to the width of its mouth as to contain land-locked waters and constitute more than a mere curvature of the coast. An indentation shall not, however, be regarded as a bay unless its area is as large as, or larger than, that of the semi-circle whose diameter is a line drawn across the mouth of that indentation.


Formation

There are various ways in which bays can form. The largest bays have developed through
plate tectonics File:Earth cutaway schematic-en.svg, upright=1.35, Diagram of the internal layering of Earth showing the lithosphere above the asthenosphere (not to scale) Plate tectonics (from the la, label=Late Latin, tectonicus, from the grc, τεκτον ...
. As the super-continent
Pangaea Pangaea or Pangea () was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology) ...

Pangaea
broke up along curved and indented fault lines, the continents moved apart and left large bays; these include the
Gulf of Guinea pt, Golfo da Guiné , native_name_lang= , image= Gulf of Guinea (English).jpg , caption = Gulf of Guinea map showing the chain of islands formed by the Cameroon line The Cameroon line (, ) is a chain of volcanoes. It includes islands in the Gu ...
, the
Gulf of Mexico The Gulf of Mexico ( es, Golfo de México) is an oceanic basin, ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of ...

Gulf of Mexico
, and the
Bay of Bengal The Bay of Bengal is the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean, bounded on the west and northwest by India, on the north by Bangladesh, and on the east by Myanmar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. Its southern limit is a line between ...
, which is the world's largest bay. Bays also form through coastal
erosion In earth science, erosion is the action of surface processes (such as Surface runoff, water flow or wind) that removes soil, Rock (geology), rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust#Crust, Earth's crust, and then sedime ...

erosion
by rivers and
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its Ablation#Glaciology, ablation over many years, often Century, centuries. Glaciers slowl ...

glacier
s. A bay formed by a glacier is a
fjord In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the process ...

fjord
.
Ria A ria () is a coastal inlet formed by the partial submergence of an unglaciated river valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end ...

Ria
s are created by rivers and are characterised by more gradual slopes. Deposits of softer rocks erode more rapidly, forming bays, while harder rocks erode less quickly, leaving
headland A headland, also known as a head, is a coast The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the sea or ocean, or as a line that forms the boundary between the land and the ocean or a lake. Earth has ...

headland
s.


See also

* *


References

{{Authority control
Bodies of water {{See also, Limnology Compare to :Landforms and :Wetlands Bodies of water may exist within land areas or within other bodies of water and may be natural, man-made or a combination. Water Physical geography Hydrography Natural resources, +Water A ...
Coastal and oceanic landforms Coastal geography Oceanographical terminology