All over the world there are different bodies of water, especially when it comes to sea water. Although the seas and oceans are the best known, there are also bays, gulfs, coves and straits. Bays are areas with a significant indentation of the shoreline, creating an area of landlocked water. Although berries can vary greatly in size, some can be much larger than others. But how far can they be? Join us to discover the largest bay in the world!
What is a Berry?
As just mentioned, bays are bodies of water that are enclosed in an indentation of the shore. However, not all indentations can be classified as a bay. Instead, bays are only classified as bays when the area within is as large – or larger – than a semicircle. So if we draw a line through the mouth of the bay, then we can determine whether it is a bay or not. Bays should not be confused with gulfs which usually – but not always – have narrower openings than bays. Bays don’t always have to be formed along a coastline either – they can even be formed along the shoreline of lakes.
How are berries formed?
There are several ways to form berries. The most obvious method is erosion. The coasts are made up of many different types of rock, some much harder than others. Softer rock, mud and clay wear out faster than harder rock due to water erosion. This then forms the indentation in the shoreline. However, although this is the most obvious, it is not always the reason a berry has formed. Instead, berries can also be formed by rivers and glaciers too. They can even form when the ocean also spills over areas of the coastline.
Despite this, many bays are actually formed by tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are the giant plates that make up the Earth’s continental and oceanic crust (also known as the lithosphere), and they are made up of huge chunks of solid rock. However, they do not stand still and continually slide over each other. Indeed, they rest on a layer of molten rock also known as the asthenosphere. The convection currents between the two move the tectonic plates.
Tectonic plates can move anything between one and six inches per year and are responsible for forming many different land formations. Several mountain ranges and fault lines are caused by these plates, as well as numerous bays. The bays form because of the way tectonic plates move over millions of years. This causes the continents to constantly drift together only to be pulled apart again and create new coastlines as they go.
The largest bay in the world
The largest bay in the world is the Bay of Bengal. It occupies a massive 838,613 square miles, 1,000 miles wide and 1,300 miles long. The Bay of Bengal is located in the northeastern region of the Indian Ocean and is surrounded by India, Bangladesh, Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The average depth is 8,500 feet, while the deepest part is 15,400 feet.
The Bay of Bengal forms on top of the massive Indo-Australian Plate, which is gradually moving northeast. This plate meets the Burma Microplate, where the Indian part of it slides under the Burma Plate at the Sunda Trench. This movement causes pressure on the fault lines and leads to a high risk of earthquakes. Earthquakes underwater can cause devastating tsunamis.
Many rivers flow into the Bay of Bengal, including the Kaveri, Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Hooghly. Large amounts of sediment are deposited annually in the Bay of Bengal from these rivers. Sediments from several of these rivers – especially the Ganges and the Brahmaputra – create the Bengal delta. Deltas are triangle-shaped landforms that are created when sediment is transported from the mouth of the river into the slow-moving ocean (or other large body of water) that cannot carry it away.
The Bengal Delta is a vast area covering over 41,000 square miles. In this area, there are many some lakes, swampsand the floodplains which are among the most fertile areas and home to many different species of animals.
Wildlife in the Bay
The Bay of Bengal is an incredibly rich and diverse region that is home to many different animals, many of which are endangered. Since there are so many rivers flowing into the bay, the water can be more brackish in some areas. In fact, the Bay of Bengal is well known for having low salinity levels at the surface. These unique conditions add to the diversity of its marine fauna.
The Bay of Bengal is home to thousands of different animals – from poisonous sea snakes to whales and dolphins – and many animals depend on the bay for their very existence. However, it is not just the water itself that the animals depend on, but the unique habitats formed by the Bengal delta as well as the beaches and habitats formed on the shore.
The rare and endangered Irrawaddy River dolphins are one of the most endangered animals in the bay. Irrawaddy dolphins are not true river dolphins and regularly inhabit the coastal and estuarine areas of the Bay of Bengal. In addition, the vulnerable olive ridley sea turtle sea turtles rely on beaches for their nesting sites and they return to the same beach where they were born to create their own nests.
Even the endangered Bengal tiger is found in the Bay of Bengal. Bengal tigers are one of the largest wild cats and there are only around 2,000 left in the world today. Incredibly, around 100 Bengal tigers live on the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans are a mangrove area on another delta in the Bay of Bengal. This population is actually one of the largest populations of Bengal tigers in an area!
Threats to the Bay of Bengal
Unfortunately, like many habitats, the Bay of Bengal is under threat. In addition to the problem of overfishing which threatens many species, many critical habitats in the bay are suffering loss or damage, such as seagrass beds, coral reefs and mangroves. This is due to things such as the building of piers and other structures, deforestation, and coral mining. In the Bay of Bengal, 26% of its coral reefs are highly threatened and 11% very highly threatened; this figure is expected to reach 23% by 2030.
Moreover, the Bay of Bengal is also threatened by major pollution, which affects the quality of its water. Pollution can take many forms. Every year, tons of plastic waste enters the Bay of Bengal, causing serious problems for wildlife. Some animals ingest the plastic, which can cause major health problems, while others can become entangled in it and die.
Other types of pollution include oil and chemical waste leaking into the water from ships. In addition, the proximity of fertilizer and chemical factories to the banks of the rivers causes pollution in the bay. This is because the chemicals that seep into the rivers flow directly into the Bay of Bengal. In addition, there is often a lot of sewage waste flowing directly into the bay. All of these can harm any animal, from seabirds to fish.
Not only that, but natural disasters continue to threaten the Bay of Bengal. The constant threat of hurricanes causes storm surges, flooding and further erosion of the coastline. In addition, the continuous movement of the tectonic plates under the bay regularly causes earthquakes and means that the layout of the bay is constantly changing.