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A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, 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 to pass safely. Such a navigable water is called a ''waterway'', and is preferably with few obstructions against direct traverse t ...
waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two
land mass Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture, habitat, and various natural resources. Some life form ...
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 of rock, coral or similar relatively stable material, lying beneath the surface of a natural body of water. Many reefs result from natural, abiotic processes—deposition of sand, wave erosion planing down rock outcr ...

reef
or
archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands. Indonesian Archipelago, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the G ...
. 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 created by deposition of sediment that is carried by a river as the flow leaves its mouth and enters slower-moving or stagnant water. This occurs where a river enters an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, or (more ra ...
.


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 ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154 km) border with England to the southeast and is otherwis ...
''
firth Firth is a word in the English and Scots languages used to denote various coastal waters in the United Kingdom, predominantly within Scotland. In the Northern Isles, it more usually refers to a smaller inlet. It is linguistically cognate to ''fjord ...

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 determin ...
s and
war War is an intense armed conflict between states, governments, societies, or paramilitary groups such as mercenaries, insurgents, and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using ...
s have been fought for control of them. Numerous artificial channels, called ''
canal Canals are waterways channels, or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service water transport vehicles. They may also help with irrigation. It can be thought of as an artificial version of a river. Canals carry free surface fl ...
s'', have been constructed to connect two bodies of water over land, such as the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ السُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez and dividing Africa and Asia. In 1858, Ferdinand de Lessep ...
. 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 water. Sm ...
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. Marine or marines may refer to: Ocean * Maritime (disambiguation) * Marine art * Marine biology * Marine debris * Marine habitats * Marine life * Marine pollution Military * Ma ...
environment. There are exceptions, with straits being called canals,
Pearse Canal Pearse Canal is a channel or strait forming part of the Canada–United States border at the southern end of the Alaska Panhandle and adjacent to the mouth of Portland Inlet. It is on the northwest side of Wales and Pearse Islands, which are in Brit ...
, 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 consists of ...
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 Tidal power or tidal energy is harnessed by converting energy from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity using various methods. Although not yet widely used, tidal energy has the potential for future electricity generation. Tid ...
using tidal stream turbines. Tides are more predictable than
wave power Wave power is the capture of energy of wind waves to do useful work – for example, electricity generation, water desalination, or pumping water. A machine that exploits wave power is a wave energy converter (WEC). Wave power is distinct f ...
or
wind power Wind power or wind energy is the use of wind to provide mechanical power through wind turbines to turn electric generators for electrical power. Wind power is a popular sustainable, renewable source of power that has a much smaller impact on ...

wind power
. The
Pentland Firth The Pentland Firth ( gd, An Caol Arcach, meaning the Orcadian Strait) is a strait which separates the Orkney Islands from Caithness in the north of Scotland. Despite the name, it is not a firth. Etymology The name is presumed to be a corruption of ...
(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 North and South Islands of New Zealand. The strait connects the Tasman Sea on the northwest with the South Pacific Ocean on the southeast, and runs next to the capital city, Wellington. It is w ...
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#REDIRECT International waters#REDIRECT International waters#REDIRECT International waters {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ... {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category sh ...
or an
exclusive economic zone#REDIRECT Exclusive economic zone#REDIRECT Exclusive economic zone {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
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 between one part of the high seas or exclusive econ ...
(
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaic: Pillars of Hercules), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterran ...
,
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 at the narrowest part of the English Channe ...
,
Strait of Hormuz The Strait of Hormuz as seen from an airliner at 35,000 feet. Musandam is in the foreground. The Strait of Hormuz ( fa, تنگه هرمز ''Tangeh-ye Hormoz'' ar, مَضيق هُرمُز ''Maḍīq Hurmuz'' ) is a strait between the Persian ...

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 of another state, subject to certain restrictions. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Article 19 de ...
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 and Arabian peninsulas which separate the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea proper. The distance between the two peninsulas is about . The body is named ...
,
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's outlet to the Pacific Ocean. The international boundary between Canada and the United States runs down the centre o ...
,
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 cons ...
) 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 between the eastern tip of Sicily (Punta del Faro) and the western tip of Calabria (Punta Pezzo) in Southern Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea to t ...

Strait of Messina
,
Pentland Firth The Pentland Firth ( gd, An Caol Arcach, meaning the Orcadian Strait) is a strait which separates the Orkney Islands from Caithness in the north of Scotland. Despite the name, it is not a firth. Etymology The name is presumed to be a corruption of ...
). 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''. For "Strait of.." or for "The.. " see the first letter of the word which follows the article. A * Agate Pass – between Port Madison and mainland Kitsap County in Puget Sound * Agattu ...
*
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 high seas or exclusive econ ...


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