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A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically
navigable A body of water, such as a river, canal or lake, is navigable if it is deep, wide and calm enough for a water vessel (e.g. boats) to pass safely. Such a navigable water is called a ''waterway'', and is preferably with few obstructions against dire ...
waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both sides and through the strait in either direction. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two
land mass Land is the solid surface of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is one of several ...
es. Some straits are not navigable, for example because they are too shallow, or because of an unnavigable
reef A reef is a ridge or shoal A tidal sandbar connecting the islands of Waya and Wayasewa of the Yasawa Islands, Fiji ">Fiji.html" ;"title="Yasawa Islands, Fiji">Yasawa Islands, Fiji In oceanography, geomorphology, and earth sciences, a s ...

reef
or
archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as ...

archipelago
. Straits are also known to be loci for sediment accumulation. Usually, sand-size deposits occur on both the two opposite strait exits, forming subaqueous fans or
deltas A river delta is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body. Landforms together make up a given terrain, and their arrangement in the landscape is known as topography. Lan ...
.


Terminology

The terms ''
channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...
'', ''pass'', or ''passage'' can be synonymous and used interchangeably with ''strait'', although each is sometimes differentiated with varying senses. In
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
''
firth Firth is a word in the English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually becom ...

firth
'' or ''Kyle'' are also sometimes used as synonyms for strait. Many straits are economically important. Straits can be important
shipping route A sea lane, sea road or shipping lane is a regularly used navigable route for large water vessels (ships) on wide waterways such as oceans and large lakes, and is preferably safe, direct and economic. In the Age of Sail, they were not only determi ...
s and
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

war
s have been fought for control of them. Numerous artificial channels, called ''
canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * ...

canal
s'', have been constructed to connect two bodies of water over land, such as the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
. Although
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

river
s and canals often provide passage between two large lakes or a lake and a sea, and these seem to suit the formal definition of strait, they are not usually referred to as such. The term ''strait'' is typically reserved for much larger, wider features of the
marine Marine is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the sea or ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
environment. There are exceptions, with straits being called canals,
Pearse Canal Pearse Canal is a channel or strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two land masses. Some straits are not n ...
, for example.


Comparisons

Straits are the converse of
isthmus An isthmus ( or ; plural: isthmuses or isthmi; from grc, ἰσθμός, isthmós, neck) is a narrow piece of land connecting two larger areas across an expanse of water by which they are otherwise separated. A tombolo is an isthmus that consist ...

isthmus
es. That is, while a strait lies between two land masses and connects two larger bodies of water, an isthmus lies between two bodies of water and connects two larger land masses. Some straits have the potential to generate significant
tidal power#REDIRECT Tidal power Tidal power or tidal energy is harnessed by converting energy from tide (U.S.), low tide occurs roughly at moonrise and high tide with a high Moon, corresponding to the simple gravity model of two tidal bulges; at most ...
using
tidal stream turbines Tidal is the adjectival form of tide. Tidal may also refer to: * Tidal (album), ''Tidal'' (album), a 1996 album by Fiona Apple * Tidal (king), a king involved in the Battle of the Vale of Siddim * Tidal (livecoding), a live coding environment for m ...
. Tides are more predictable than
wave power Wave power is the capture of energy of wind wave In fluid dynamics In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several subdiscipline ...

wave power
or
wind power Wind power or wind energy is the use of wind turbine A wind turbine is a device that converts Religious conversion is the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination A religious denomination ...

wind power
. The
Pentland Firth The Pentland Firth ( gd, An Caol Arcach, meaning the Orcadian Strait) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies ...

Pentland Firth
(a strait) may be capable of generating 10  GW."Marine Briefing" (December 2006) Scottish Renewables Forum. Glasgow.
Cook Strait Cook Strait ( mi, Te Moana-o-Raukawa) separates the and s of . The connects the on the northwest with the on the southeast, and runs next to the capital city, . It is wide at its narrowest point,McLintock, A H, Ed. (1966''Cook Strait''from ...

Cook Strait
in New Zealand may be capable of generating 5.6 GW"The Energetics of Large Tidal Turbine Arrays, Ross Vennell, 2012, preprint submitted to Royal Society, 2011." even though the total energy available in the flow is 15 GW."Estimating the power potential of tidal currents and the impact of power extraction on flow speeds. Ross Vennell, 2011"


Navigational (legal) regime

Straits used for international navigation through the territorial sea between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone are subject to the legal regime of
transit passageTransit passage is a concept of the law of the sea, which allows a vessel or aircraft the freedom of navigation or overflight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious transit of a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typic ...
(
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
,
Dover Strait The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait, historically known as the Dover Narrows (french: Pas de Calais - ''Strait of Calais''; nl, Nauw van Calais or the lesser used ''Straat van Dover''), is the strait A strait is a naturally formed, narro ...
,
Strait of Hormuz The Strait of Hormuz ( fa, تنگه هرمز ''Tangeh-ye Hormoz'' ar, مَضيق هُرمُز ''Maḍīq Hurmuz'') is a between the and the . It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the wo ...

Strait of Hormuz
). The regime of
innocent passage Innocent passage is a concept in the law of the sea that allows for a vessel to pass through the archipelagic and territorial waters The term territorial waters is sometimes used informally to refer to any area of water over which a state has ...
applies in straits used for international navigation (1) that connect a part of high seas or an exclusive economic zone with the territorial sea of coastal nation (
Strait of Tiran The Straits of Tiran ( ar, مضيق تيران ') are the narrow sea passages between the Sinai peninsula, Sinai and Arabian Peninsula, Arabian peninsulas which separate the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea proper. The distance between the two peni ...
,
Strait of Juan de Fuca The Strait of Juan de Fuca (officially named Juan de Fuca Strait in Canada) is a body of water about long that is the Salish Sea , image = PNW-straits.jpg , alt = , caption = The Salish Sea, showing the ...
,
Strait of Baltiysk The Strait of Baltiysk (russian: Балтийский пролив, pl, Cieśnina Piławska, german: Pillauer Tief) is a strait enabling passage from the Baltic Sea into the freshwater Vistula Lagoon, located in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. The con ...
) and (2) in straits formed by an island of a state bordering the strait and its mainland if there exists seaward of the island a route through the high seas or through an exclusive economic zone of similar convenience with respect to navigational and hydrographical characteristics (
Strait of Messina The Strait of Messina ( it, Stretto di Messina, Sicilian: Strittu di Missina) is a narrow strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel o ...

Strait of Messina
,
Pentland Firth The Pentland Firth ( gd, An Caol Arcach, meaning the Orcadian Strait) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies ...

Pentland Firth
). There may be no suspension of innocent passage through such straits.


See also

*
List of straitsThis list of straits is an appendix to the article ''strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two land masses. ...
*
Strait passageTransit passage is a concept of the law of the sea, which allows a vessel or aircraft the freedom of navigation or overflight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious transit of a strait between one part of the International waters, high ...


References

* Longhitano S., 2013. A facies-based depositional model for ancient and modern, tectonically–confined tidal straits. Terra Nova, 25,6, 446-452


External links

{{coastal geography Coastal and oceanic landforms
Bodies of water {{See also, Limnology Compare to :Landforms and :Wetlands Bodies of water may exist within land areas or within other bodies of water and may be natural, man-made or a combination. Water Physical geography Hydrography Natural resources, +Water A ...