Bay of Biscay

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The Bay of Biscay (Spanish: Golfo de Vizcaya; French: Golfe de Gascogne; Basque: Bizkaiko golkoa; Gascon: Golf de Gasconha) or the Cantabrian Sea is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named after the Basque province of Biscay,[citation needed] in the Spanish Basque Country.

The average depth is 1,744 metres (5,722 ft) and maximum depth is 2,789 metres (9,150 ft).



Parts of the continental shelf extend far into the bay, resulting in fairly shallow water in many areas and thus cause the rough seas for which the region is known. The Bay of Biscay is home to some of the Atlantic Ocean's fiercest weather. Large storms occur in the bay, especially during the winter months. Up until recent years it was a regular occurrence for merchant vessels to founder in Biscay storms, and many lives were lost. Improved ships and weather prediction have reduced the toll of the storms.


The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Bay of Biscay as "a line joining Cap Ortegal (43°46′N 7°52′W / 43.767°N 7.867°W / 43.767; -7.867) to Penmarch Point (47°48′N 4°22′W / 47.8°N 4.367°W / 47.8; -4.367)".[1]

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