Gulf of Saint Lawrence
Overview
 
The Gulf of Saint Lawrence (French: golfe du Saint-Laurent), the world's largest estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

, is the outlet of North America's Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 via the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

 into the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. It is a semi–enclosed sea, covering an area of about 236000 km² (91,120.1 sq mi) and containing 35000 km³ (7,698,923,690,468,070 imp gal) of water.
The gulf is bounded on the north by the Labrador Peninsula
Labrador Peninsula
The Labrador Peninsula is a large peninsula in eastern Canada. It is bounded by the Hudson Bay to the west, the Hudson Strait to the north, the Labrador Sea to the east, and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the south-east...

, to the east by Newfoundland, to the south by the Nova Scotia peninsula
Nova Scotia peninsula
The Nova Scotia peninsula is a peninsula on the Atlantic coast of North America.-Location:The Nova Scotia peninsula is part of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada and is connected to the neighbouring province of New Brunswick through the Isthmus of Chignecto...

 and Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

, and to the west by the Gaspé
Gaspé Peninsula
The Gaspésie , or Gaspé Peninsula or the Gaspé, is a peninsula along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada, extending into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 and New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

.
Encyclopedia
The Gulf of Saint Lawrence (French: golfe du Saint-Laurent), the world's largest estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

, is the outlet of North America's Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 via the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

 into the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. It is a semi–enclosed sea, covering an area of about 236000 km² (91,120.1 sq mi) and containing 35000 km³ (7,698,923,690,468,070 imp gal) of water.

Geography

The gulf is bounded on the north by the Labrador Peninsula
Labrador Peninsula
The Labrador Peninsula is a large peninsula in eastern Canada. It is bounded by the Hudson Bay to the west, the Hudson Strait to the north, the Labrador Sea to the east, and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the south-east...

, to the east by Newfoundland, to the south by the Nova Scotia peninsula
Nova Scotia peninsula
The Nova Scotia peninsula is a peninsula on the Atlantic coast of North America.-Location:The Nova Scotia peninsula is part of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada and is connected to the neighbouring province of New Brunswick through the Isthmus of Chignecto...

 and Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

, and to the west by the Gaspé
Gaspé Peninsula
The Gaspésie , or Gaspé Peninsula or the Gaspé, is a peninsula along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada, extending into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 and New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

. It contains Anticosti Island
Anticosti Island
Anticosti Island is an island at the outlet of the Saint Lawrence River into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, in Quebec, Canada, between 49° and 50° N., and between 61° 40' and 64° 30' W. At in size, it is the 90th largest island in the world and 20th largest island in Canada...

, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

, and the Magdalen Islands
Magdalen Islands
The Magdalen Islands form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of . Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec....

. Half of Canada's ten provinces—the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, as well as Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

 -- adjoin the Gulf.

Besides the Saint Lawrence River itself, semi-major tributaries of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence include the Miramichi River
Miramichi River
The Miramichi River is a Canadian river located in the east-central part of New Brunswick. The river drains into Miramichi Bay in the Gulf of St. Lawrence...

, the Natashquan River
Natashquan River
The Natashquan is a river in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. It has its source just south of the boundary between the Atlantic and Saint Lawrence watersheds. It flows south-east to the Labrador–Quebec border from where it flows southward...

, the Restigouche River
Restigouche River
The Restigouche River is a river that flows across the northwestern part of the province of New Brunswick and the southeastern part of Quebec....

, the Margaree River
Margaree River
The Margaree River is a river on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The northeast branch of the river derives from the watershed of the Cape Breton Highlands, while the Southwest Margaree flows northeast from Lake Ainslie. The two branches join at Margaree Forks...

, and the Humber River
Humber River (Newfoundland)
The Humber River is a river in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is approximately 120 kilometers long, flowing through the Long Range Mountains, southeast then southwest, through Deer Lake, to the Bay of Islands at Corner Brook. It begins near Hampden, Newfoundland. Taylor's...

. Arms of the Gulf include the Chaleur Bay
Chaleur Bay
frame| Satellite image of Chaleur Bay . Chaleur Bay is the large bay opening to the east;the [[Gaspé Peninsula]] appears to the north and the [[Gulf of St...

, Miramichi Bay
Miramichi Bay
Miramichi Bay is an estuary located on the west coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in New Brunswick, at the mouth of the Miramichi River. Miramichi Bay is separated into the "inner bay" and the "outer bay", with the division being a line of uninhabited barrier islands which are continually reshaped...

, St. George's Bay
St. George's Bay (Nova Scotia)
St. George's Bay is a bay in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is located on the north shore of the province fronting both the Nova Scotia peninsula and Cape Breton Island, thus comprising a sub-basin of the Gulf of St. Lawrence....

, Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador
The Bay of Islands is an extensive inlet located on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland, in Canada. The Way Office was established on July 1, 1883. The first Waymaster was Thomas Carter.It is also a sub-basin of the Gulf of St...

, and Northumberland Strait
Northumberland Strait
The Northumberland Strait is a strait in the southern part of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in eastern Canada...

.

Outlets

The gulf flows into the Atlantic Ocean through the following outlets:
  • The Strait of Belle Isle between Labrador
    Labrador
    Labrador is the distinct, northerly region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It comprises the mainland portion of the province, separated from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle...

     and Newfoundland (17 km wide and 60 m at its deepest).

  • The Cabot Strait
    Cabot Strait
    Cabot Strait is a strait in eastern Canada approximately 110 kilometres wide between Cape Ray, Newfoundland and Cape North, Cape Breton Island. It is the widest of the three outlets for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence into the Atlantic Ocean, the others being the Strait of Belle Isle and Strait of Canso...

     between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island (104 km wide and 480 m at its deepest).

  • The Strait of Canso
    Strait of Canso
    The Strait of Canso , is a strait located in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. It divides the Nova Scotia peninsula from Cape Breton Island....

     between Cape Breton Island and peninsular Nova Scotia
    Nova Scotia peninsula
    The Nova Scotia peninsula is a peninsula on the Atlantic coast of North America.-Location:The Nova Scotia peninsula is part of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada and is connected to the neighbouring province of New Brunswick through the Isthmus of Chignecto...

     (1 km wide and 60 m at its deepest). Since construction of the Canso Causeway
    Canso Causeway
    The Canso Causeway is a rock-fill causeway in Nova Scotia, Canada.The causeway crosses the Strait of Canso, connecting Cape Breton Island by road to the Nova Scotia peninsula...

     in 1955, the Strait of Canso does not permit free-flowing exchange of waters between the gulf and the Atlantic.

Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the limits of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as follows:

On the Northeast. A line running from Cape Bauld
Cape Bauld
Cape Bauld is a headland located at the northeasternmost point of Great Northern Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador....

 (North point of Kirpon Island
Quirpon Island
Quirpon Island is a small Canadian island off the northeastern tip of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador....

, 51°40′N 55°25′W) to the East extreme of Belle Isle
Belle Isle (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Belle Isle is an uninhabited island just off the coast of Labrador and north of Newfoundland at the Atlantic entrance to the Strait of Belle Isle which takes its name...

 and on to the Northeast Ledge (52°02′N 55°15′W). Thence a line joining this ledge with the East extreme of Cape St. Charles
Cape St. Charles
Cape St. Charles is a headland on the coast of Labrador in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. At longitude 55°37'15"W it is the most easterly point on the continental North America....

 (52°13'N) in Labrador
Labrador
Labrador is the distinct, northerly region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It comprises the mainland portion of the province, separated from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle...

.

On the Southeast. A line from Cape Canso

Cape Canso
This article is about the headland. For the town, see Canso, Nova Scotia.Cape Canso is a headland located at the eastern extremity of the Nova Scotia peninsula in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia....

 (45°20′N 61°0′W) to Red Point
Red Point (Nova Scotia)
Red Point is a headland located at the southwestern extremity of Cape Breton Island in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia....

 (45°35′N 60°45′W) in Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

, through this Island to Cape Breton
Cape Breton (Nova Scotia)
This article is about the headland. For other uses, see Cape Breton .This article is about the headland. For other uses, see Cape Breton .This article is about the headland...

 [45°57′N 59°47′W] and on to Pointe Blanche (46°45′N 56°11′W) in the Island of St. Pierre, and thence to the Southwest point of Morgan Island (46°51′N 55°49′W).

On the West. The meridian of 64°30'W, but the whole of Anticosti Island

Anticosti Island
Anticosti Island is an island at the outlet of the Saint Lawrence River into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, in Quebec, Canada, between 49° and 50° N., and between 61° 40' and 64° 30' W. At in size, it is the 90th largest island in the world and 20th largest island in Canada...

 is included in the Gulf.

Protected areas

St. Paul Island, Nova Scotia
St. Paul Island, Nova Scotia
St. Paul Island is a small uninhabited island located approximately northeast of Cape North on Cape Breton Island and southwest of Cape Ray on Newfoundland; it is along the boundary between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Cabot Strait....

, off the northeast tip of Cape Breton Island, is referred to as the "Graveyard of the Gulf" for its many shipwrecks; access to the island is controlled by the Canadian Coast Guard
Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard is the coast guard of Canada. It is a federal agency responsible for providing maritime search and rescue , aids to navigation, marine pollution response, marine radio, and icebreaking...

.

Bonaventure Island
Bonaventure Island
Bonaventure Island is a Canadian island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence located off the southern coast of Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula, southeast of the village of Percé...

 on the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, Île Brion and Rochers-aux-Oiseaux (Bird Rock) northeast of the Magdalen Islands
Magdalen Islands
The Magdalen Islands form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of . Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec....

 are important migratory bird sanctuaries administered by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

The Government of Canada maintains national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

s in the Gulf of St. Lawrence estuary at Forillon
Forillon National Park
Forillon National Park, one of 43 national parks and park reserves across Canada, is located at the outer tip of the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec and covers 244 km². Created in 1970, Forillon was the first national park in Quebec. The park includes forests, sea coast, salt marshes, sand dunes,...

 on the eastern tip of the Gaspé, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island National Park
Prince Edward Island National Park is a National Park located on Prince Edward Island. Situated along the island's north shore, fronting the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the park measures approximately 60 km in length and ranges from several hundred metres to several kilometres in width...

 on the north shore of the island, Kouchibouguac
Kouchibouguac National Park
Kouchibouguac National Park is located on the east coast of New Brunswick, north of the town of Richibucto. The park includes barrier islands, sand dunes, lagoons, salt marshes and forests. It provides habitat for seabirds, including the endangered Piping Plover, and the second largest tern colony...

 on the northeast coast of New Brunswick, Cape Breton Highlands
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands National Park is located on northern Cape Breton Island in the province of Nova Scotia. One-third of the Cabot Trail passes through the park featuring spectacular ocean and mountain views. The park was the first National Park in the Atlantic provinces of Canada and covers an...

 on the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, Gros Morne
Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park is a world heritage site located on the west coast of Newfoundland. At , it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada ....

 on Newfoundland's west coast, and a national park reserve in the Mingan Archipelago
Mingan Archipelago
The Mingan Archipelago is an archipelago located east of Quebec, Canada. It consists of a chain of about 40 islands.Starting but 124 miles from the end of the road along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River , the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada spreads about 109 miles...

 on Quebec's Côte-Nord
Côte-Nord
Côte-Nord is the second largest administrative region by land area in Quebec, Canada, after Nord-du-Québec...

.

The five provinces bordering the gulf also maintain various provincial parks, some of which preserve coastal features.

Undersea features

The Laurentian Channel
Laurentian Channel
The Laurentian Channel is a submarine valley in eastern Canada.The channel is of glacial origin and is the submerged valley of the historic St. Lawrence River, running 1400 km from a sharp escarpment downstream from the confluence of the St. Lawrence with the Saguenay River, past Anticosti Island...

 is a feature of the gulf floor that was formed during previous glaciations
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

, where the continental shelf
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

 was eroded by the St. Lawrence River during periods of global sea level minimums. The Laurentian Channel is 290 m (951.4 ft) in depth and approximately 1250 km (776.7 mi) in length from the continental shelf to the Estuary. Deep waters with temperatures between 2 and 6.5 degrees Celsius (35 and 44 °F) enter the Gulf at the continental slope and are slowly advected up the channel by estuariane circulation. Over the last century, the bottom waters of the end of the channel (i.e. in the St. Lawrence estuary) have become hypoxic
Hypoxia (environmental)
Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, is a phenomenon that occurs in aquatic environments as dissolved oxygen becomes reduced in concentration to a point where it becomes detrimental to aquatic organisms living in the system...

.

Cultural importance

The gulf has provided a historically important marine fishery for various First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 that have lived on its shores for millennia and used its waters for transportation.

The first documented voyage by a European in its waters was by French explorer Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas", after the Iroquois names for the two big...

 in 1534; the Cartier expedition is reported to have been the first known encounter between Europeans and First Nations inhabiting the Gulf of St. Lawrence basin, which occurred in present-day New Brunswick on July 7, 1534.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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