|Bay of Biscay|
|Ocean/sea sources||Atlantic Ocean|
|Basin countries||France, Spain|
|Max. length||593.7 kilometres (368.9 mi)|
|Max. width||511.1 kilometres (317.6 mi)|
|Surface area||223,000 square kilometres (86,000 sq mi)|
|Average depth||1,744 metres (5,722 ft)|
|Max. depth||4,735 metres (15,535 ft)|
|Water volume||389,000 cubic kilometres (93,000 cu mi)|
The Bay of Biscay ( /,- / ; French : Golfe de Gascogne, Spanish : Golfo de Vizcaya, Occitan : Golf de Gasconha, Breton : Pleg-mor Gwaskogn, Basque : Bizkaiko Golkoa) is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Point Penmarc'h to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal.
The south area of the Bay of Biscay washes over the northern coast of Spain and is known as the Cantabrian Sea.
The Bay of Biscay is home to some of the Atlantic Ocean's fiercest weather; abnormally high waves occur there.
The Bay of Biscay is named (for English speakers) after Biscay on the northern Spanish coast, probably standing for the western Basque districts (Biscay up to the early 19th century). Its name in other languages is:
Parts of the continental shelf extend far into the bay, resulting in fairly shallow waters in many areas and thus the rough seas for which the region is known. Large storms occur in the bay, especially during the winter months. The Bay of Biscay is home to some of the Atlantic Ocean's fiercest weather; abnormally high waves occur there.Up until recent years it was a regular occurrence for merchant vessels to founder in Biscay storms.
The average depth is 1,744 metres (5,722 ft) and the greatest depth is 4,735 metres (15,535 ft).
The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Bay of Biscay as "a line joining Cap Ortegal () to Penmarch Point ( )".
The southernmost portion is the Cantabrian Sea.
The main rivers that empty into the Bay of Biscay are Loire, Charente, Garonne, Dordogne, Adour, Nivelle, Bidasoa, Oiartzun, Urumea, Oria, Urola, Deba, Artibai, Lea, Oka, Nervión, Agüera, Asón, Miera, Pas, Saja, Nansa, Deva, Sella, Nalón, Navia, Esva, Eo, Landro and Sor.
In late spring and early summer a large fog triangle fills the southwestern half of the bay, covering just a few kilometres inland.
As winter begins, weather becomes severe. Depressions enter from the west very frequently and they either bounce north to the British Isles or they enter the Ebro Valley, dry out, and are finally reborn in the form of powerful thunderstorms as they reach the Mediterranean Sea. These depressions cause severe weather at sea and bring light though very constant rain to its shores (known as orballo , sirimiri, morrina, orbayu, orpin or calabobos). Sometimes powerful windstorms form if the pressure falls rapidly (Galernas), traveling along the Gulf Stream at great speed, resembling a hurricane and finally crashing in this bay with their maximum power, such as the Klaus storm.
The Gulf Stream enters the bay following the continental shelf's border anti-clockwise (the Rennell Current), keeping temperatures moderate all year long.
The main cities on the shores of the Bay of Biscay are Bordeaux, Bayonne, Biarritz, Brest, Nantes, La Rochelle, Donostia-San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón and Avilés.
The southern end of the gulf is also called in Spanish "Mar Cantábrico" (Cantabrian Sea), from the Estaca de Bares, as far as the mouth of Adour river, but this name is not generally used in English. It was named by Romans in the 1st century BC as Sinus Cantabrorum (Bay of the Cantabri) and also, Mare Gallaecum (the Sea of the Galicians). On some medieval maps, the Bay of Biscay is marked as El Mar del los Vascos (the Basque Sea).
The Bay of Biscay has been the site of many famous naval engagements over the centuries. In 1592 the Spanish defeated an English fleet during the Battle of the Bay of Biscay. The Biscay campaign of June 1795 consisted of a series of manoeuvres and two battles fought between the British Channel Fleet and the French Atlantic Fleet off the southern coast of Brittany during the second year of the French Revolutionary Wars. USS Californian sank here after striking a naval mine on 22 June 1918. In 1920 SS Afrique sank after losing power and drifting into a reef in a storm with the loss of 575 lives. On 28 December 1943, the Battle of the Bay of Biscay was fought between HMS Glasgow and HMS Enterprise and a group of German destroyers as part of Operation Stonewall during World War II. U-667 sank on 25 August 1944 in position , when she struck a mine. All hands were lost.
On 12 April 1970, Soviet submarine K-8 sank in the Bay of Biscay due to a fire that crippled the submarine's nuclear reactors. An attempt to save the sub failed, resulting in the death of forty sailors and the loss of four nuclear torpedoes. Due to the great depth (15,000 feet or 4,600 metres), no salvage operation was attempted.
The car ferries from Gijón to Nantes/Saint-Nazaire, Portsmouth to Bilbao and from Plymouth, Portsmouth and Poole to Santander provide one of the most convenient ways to see cetaceans in European waters. Often specialist groups take the ferries to hear more information. Volunteers and employees of ORCA regularly observe and monitor cetacean activity from the bridge of the ships on Brittany Ferries' Portsmouth to Santander route. Many species of whales and dolphins can be seen in this area. Most importantly, it is one of the few places in the world where the beaked whales, such as the Cuvier's beaked whale, have been observed relatively frequently. Biscay Dolphin Research monitored cetacean activity from the P&O Ferries cruiseferry Pride of Bilbao , on voyages from Portsmouth to Bilbao.
North Atlantic right whales, one of the most endangered whales, once came to the bay for feeding and probably for calving as well, but whaling activities by Basque people almost wiped them out sometime prior to 1850s. The eastern population of this species are considered to be almost extinct, and there has been no record of right whales in the Bay of Biscay except for a pair in 1977 (possibly a mother and calf) at, and another pair in June 1980. Other records in the late 20th century include one off Galicia at in September 1977 reported by a whaling company and another one seen off the Iberian Peninsula.
The best areas to see the larger cetaceans are in the deep waters beyond the continental shelf, particularly over the Santander Canyon and Torrelavega Canyon in the south of the Bay.
The alga Colpomenia peregrina was introduced and first noticed in 1906 by oyster fishermen in the Bay of Biscay.
Grammatostomias flagellibarba (scaleless dragonfish) are native to these waters.
Spain is a country located in southwestern Europe occupying most of the Iberian Peninsula. It also includes a small exclave inside France called Llívia, as well as the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean 108 km (67 mi) off northwest Africa, and five places of sovereignty on and off the coast of North Africa: Ceuta, Melilla, Islas Chafarinas, Peñón de Alhucemas, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera.
Biscay is a province of Spain, lying on the south shore of the eponymous bay. The name also refers to a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lordship of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao. It is one of the most prosperous and important provinces of Spain as a result of the massive industrialization in the last years of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Since the deep deindustrialization of the 1970s, the economy has come to rely more on the services sector.
The Nervión river runs through the city of Bilbao, Spain into the Cantabrian Sea. Its lowermost course, downstream of its confluence with the Ibaizabal River, is known as the Estuary of Bilbao.
The Cantabrian Sea is the coastal sea of the Atlantic Ocean that washes the northern coast of Spain and the southwest side of the Atlantic coast of France; it represents the south area of the Bay of Biscay. It extends from the cape Estaca de Bares in the province of A Coruña, to the mouth of the Adour river, near the city of Bayonne on the coast of the department of Pyrenees Atlantiques in French Basque Country.
Karrantza Harana/Valle de Carranza, is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the Basque Country. It is located in the comarca of Enkarterri and it is the westernmost and largest municipality of the province.
Orio is a fishing town located in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Autonomous Community, northern Spain, with the town nucleus lying on the river Oria, roughly one mile away from its mouth by the Bay of Biscay. Orio had a population of 5,901 inhabitants as of 2016.
Mundaka is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of Basque Country, northern Spain. On the coast, Mundaka is internationally renowned for its surfing scene.
Plentzia is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. The town has 4,331 inhabitants (2019).
The Port of Bilbao is located on the Bilbao Abra bay, and along the Estuary of Bilbao, in Biscay. The main facilities are in the Santurtzi and Zierbena municipalities, approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Bilbao. Also called Exterior Port and Superpuerto, the port complex occupies 3.13 km² of land and 16.94 km² of water along 17 km (10.6 mi) of waterfront.
Busturialdea, also named Busturialde - Urdaibai is a comarca of the province of Biscay, in the Basque Country, Spain. It is the heir of "Busturia", one of the original merindades that used to compose the province of Biscay, which should not be confused with Busturia, which is a municipality located in this region. Busturialdea is a diminished portion of the same original subregion and has two capital cities; Bermeo and Gernika-Lumo. It is one of the seven comarcas that compose the province of Biscay.
The Urdaibai estuary is a natural region and a Biosphere Reserve of Biscay, Basque Country, Spain. It is also referred as Mundaka or Gernika estuary.
Biscay is a Basque province in Spain.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bilbao is a diocese located in the city of Bilbao and Province of Biscay in Northern Spain. It is part of the Ecclesiastical province of Burgos.
A trainera is a traditional boat of the Cantabrian sea coast at the southern end of the Bay of Biscay, propelled by oars, and formerly sailing. It is a boat of fine lines with raised prow and rounded stern, to resist the waves of the Cantabrian sea. Traineras were originally used by fishermen to bring in the day’s catch of anchovies and sardines from sea to market, usually competing to sell their caught fish before others came in. Today, this historical tradition has become a major sport of coastal boat racing.
Txakoli de Bizkaia – Bizkaiko Txakolina is a Spanish Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) for wines, located in the province of Bizkaia, Basque Country, Spain. The DOP includes vineyards from 82 different municipalities.
Valle de Villaverde is a town and municipality in the autonomous community of Cantabria, Spain. It is surrounded by the Basque municipalities of Carranza, Arcentales, and Trucíos, but the town belongs to the administration of the government of Cantabria. Thus, it is an enclave of Biscay and an exclave of Cantabria.
The Biscay Regional Championship(Campeonato Regional de Vizcaya), also called the North Regional Championship(Campeonato Regional Norte) in its early editions, was an official football tournament in Spain organised by the North Football Federation.
The Basques were among the first to catch whales commercially, as opposed to aboriginal whaling, and dominated the trade for five centuries, spreading to the far corners of the North Atlantic and even reaching the South Atlantic. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain, when writing about Basque whaling in Terranova, described them as "the cleverest men at this fishing". By the early 17th century, other nations entered the trade in earnest, seeking the Basques as tutors, "for [they] were then the only people who understand whaling", lamented the English explorer Jonas Poole.
Cintra Bay or the Gulf of Cintra is a large, half-moon shaped bay on the coast of Río de Oro province, Western Sahara. It is located about 120 km (75 mi) south of Dakhla. Its coastline is sparsely populated, and the environment is mostly wild and undeveloped. Originally called "St. Cyprian’s Bay", it was renamed after Gonçalo de Sintra, a 15th-century Portuguese explorer and slave raider.
Selma Barkham,, was a Canadian historian and geographer of international standing in the fields of the maritime history of Canada and of the Basque Country.
The Gulf Steam off Cape Hatteras, the Gulf of Alaska, the English Channel, and the Bay of Biscay are some of the other areas where storms and current combine to produce abnormally high, steep waves.
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