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Bay on the Banks Peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand , south of Christchurch

A bay is a geographical object enclosed on three sides by higher terrain on a local or regional scale. Usually the term is used for terrain below a body of water , so that the bay expresses itself in the form of an approximately arc-like receding of the shoreline. On dry land, this is also used to describe areas that are surrounded by a mountain front that recedes almost like an arch. In the case of water, the bay is the counterpart to the headland .

The size of water bays can be a few meters or several hundred kilometers in width or extent. A large bay is also known as a gulf or (less often) as a bay . A small water bay is also known as Anse .

Bays in waters

A bay lying in a body of water is a section of a lake or sea that protrudes into the shore or coastal area as a “bulge” . On flat coasts , small bays are often separated from the open sea by spits . On the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, such cut-off bays are also called lagoons . Sea bays whose opening to the open sea is less than 24 nautical miles wide (Art. 10 UNCLOS ) count as inland waters under international law . Under a minimum width of 3.5 nautical miles and a certain minimum depth, bulges in the sea may not be referred to legally under international law as a bay, but as a fjord or fjord .

In larger bays there can be islands , peninsulas or a Wadden Sea . The bottom is mostly flat, but it can also be shaped as a small basin .


Atlantic Ocean

North Sea

Baltic Sea

Mediterranean Sea

Irish Sea

Indian Ocean

Pacific Ocean

Bays on land

Germany topo.jpg
Geomap Germany.png

In a comparison of the physical geography (left) and geology (right) of Germany, the three large lowland bays of Cologne Bight, Westphalian Bight and Leipzig Bight stand out as an extension of the Quaternary-dominated North German Plain (Central European Depression), which extends into the low mountain range threshold (dominated by the Paleozoic Basement and Mesozoic table top mountains) protrude.

Bays on land areas are approximately arch-shaped extensions of lowlands (then also referred to as lowland bays ) or at least areas with less relief that protrude into an adjacent mountain range or an area with more relief. As a rule, these are marginal subsidence areas of the corresponding plateaus, which can often be demarcated from the neighboring high areas in geological maps by their structure from younger layers (e.g. Paleozoic basement vs. Mesozoic table top mountains or Mesozoic table top mountains vs. Quaternary ) .


Related topics

A caletta on the Gulf of Naples
  • A bay that was formed by a glacier is called, depending on how it was formed , a fjord , fjärd or fjord .
  • Bays that emerged from river valleys are called ria .
  • In Italy there are so-called calettas , these are small bays or harbors that can be found mainly in the south along the coasts.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Duden online: Anse
  2. ^ Erwin Beckert, Gerhard Breuer: Public Maritime Law. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1991, ISBN 3-11-009655-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Bay  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations