San Francisco Bay

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San Francisco Bay is a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean. Technically, both rivers flow into Suisun Bay, which flows through the Carquinez Strait to meet with the Napa River at the entrance to San Pablo Bay, which connects at its south end to San Francisco Bay, although the entire group of interconnected bays is often referred to as “San Francisco Bay”.

San Francisco Bay is located in the U.S. state of California, surrounded by a contiguous region known as the San Francisco Bay Area (often simply "the Bay Area"), dominated by the large cities San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. The waterway entrance to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean is called Golden Gate. Across the strait spans the Golden Gate Bridge.

Contents

Size

The Bay covers somewhere between 400 and 1,600 square miles (1,040 to 4,160 square kilometers), depending on which sub-bays (such as San Pablo Bay), estuaries, wetlands, and so on are included in the measurement.[1][2] The main part of the Bay measures 3 to 12 miles (5 to 20 km) wide east-to-west and somewhere between 48 miles (77 km)1 and 60 miles (97 km)2 north-to-south.

The bay was navigable as far south as San Jose until the 1850s, when hydraulic mining released massive amounts of sediment from the rivers that settled in those parts of the bay that had little or no current. Later, wetlands and inlets were deliberately filled in, reducing the Bay's size since the mid-19th century by as much as one third. Recently, large areas of wetlands have been restored, further confusing the issue of the Bay's size. Despite its value as a waterway and harbor, many thousands of acres of marshy wetlands forming the edges of the bay were considered for many years to be wasted space. As a result, soil excavated for building projects or dredged from channels was often dumped onto the wetlands and other parts of the bay as landfill.

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