Mobile Bay

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{land, century, early}
{line, north, south}
{area, community, home}
{water, park, boat}
{city, population, household}
{war, force, army}
{town, population, incorporate}
{work, book, publish}
{ship, engine, design}
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Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, lying within the state of Alabama in the United States. Its mouth is formed by the Fort Morgan Peninsula on the eastern side and Dauphin Island, a barrier island on the western side. The Mobile River and Tensaw River empty into the northern end of the bay, making it an estuary. Several smaller rivers also empty into the bay: Dog River, Deer River, and Fowl River on the western side of the bay, and Fish River on the eastern side. Mobile Bay is the fourth largest estuary in the United States with a discharge of 62,000 cubic feet (1,800 m3) of water per second.[1]

Mobile Bay is 413 square miles (1,070 km2) in area. It is 31 miles (50 km) long by a maximum width of 24 miles (39 km).[1] The deepest areas of the bay are located within the shipping channel, sometimes in excess of 75 feet (23 m) deep, but the average depth of the bay is 10 feet (3 m).[1].



Spanish explorers were sailing into the area of Mobile Bay as early as 1500, with the bay being marked on early maps as the Bahía del Espíritu Santo (Bay of the Holy Spirit). The area was explored in more detail in 1516 by Diego de Miruelo and in 1519 by Alonso Álvarez de Pineda. In 1528, Pánfilo de Narváez travelled through what was likely the Mobile Bay area, encountering Native Americans who fled and burned their towns at the approach of the expedition. This response was a prelude to the journeys of Hernando de Soto, more than eleven years later.[2]

Hernando de Soto explored the area of Mobile Bay and beyond in 1540, finding the area inhabited by a Muskhogean Native American people. During this expedition his forces destroyed the fortified town of Mauvila, also spelled Maubila, from which the name Mobile was later derived.[3] This battle with Chief Tuscaloosa and his warriors took place somewhere in inland Alabama, well to the north of the current site of Mobile. The next large expedition was that of Tristán de Luna y Arellano, in his unsuccessful attempt to establish a permanent colony for Spain nearby at Pensacola in 1559.[2]

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