Todos os Santos Bay (Brazil)

Todos os Santos Bay (Brazil)

Fri, 11/29/2019 - 14:29

Todos os Santos Bay, or All Saints Bay, is a sheltered bay of the Atlantic Ocean and the principal bay of the Brazilian state of Bahia, to which it gave its name. It sits on the eastern coast of Brazil, surrounding part of Bahia's seaport capital, Salvador.

Todos os Santos Bay, or All Saints Bay, is a sheltered bay of the Atlantic Ocean and the principal bay of the Brazilian state of Bahia to which it gave its name. It sits on the eastern coast of Brazil surrounding part of Bahia's seaport capital, Salvador.

A natural harbor, the bay is approximately 25 miles (40 km) long and 20 miles (32 km) wide. Covering 1,223 sq km (472 sq mi), it is the largest bay in Brazil. It is surrounded by the Recôncavo, a fertile coastal lowland. The Paraguaçu River empties into the bay.

Todos os Santos Bay is shallow along much of its area with an average depth of 9.8 m (32 ft). It contains 91 islands, the largest being Itaparica Island at its entrance. Other important islands include the Ilha dos Frades, ilha de Maré, ilha de Bom Jesus, and the small Ilha do Medo.

Brazil’s first producing oil field is on the bay’s northeast shore. The municipality of São Francisco do Conde, at the north of the bay, remains a port that serves the oil refineries at Mataripe. The bay is dredged from the port to the Atlantic Ocean to remain open to shipping.

NASA satellite image of Salvador, All Saints Bay, Brazil Winter/Spring 1997
NASA satellite image of All Saints Bay and Salvador, Brazil (April 1997)

 

The bay was named by its discoverer Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian navigator, who is said to have entered it on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1501 on his second expedition to the Americas.

Initially, the bay, its principal settlement, and the captaincy around it all shared the same name, but they were eventually distinguished, the state becoming simply Bahia, the bay becoming the Bay of All Saints, and the city becoming first Bahia and now (usually) Salvador.

Early in the 18th century, many African slaves were shipped to the bay region to work sugar plantations. Salvador was a major slave port for the sugarcane fields of Brazil by the early 18th century. In the whaling days, it was also a popular spot, since the bay was a mating ground for whales.