Manila Bay

Manila BayManila Bay is a natural harbor which serves the Port of Manila on Luzon island. The bay is considered to be one of the best natural harbors in Southeast Asia and one of the finest in the World. Strategically located around the capital city of the Philippines, Manila Bay facilitated commerce and trade between the Philippines and its neighbouring countries, becoming the gateway for socio-economic development even prior to Spanish occupation. Manila Harbor, at the easternmost part of the bay, is divided into two sections: North Harbor for interisland ships and South Harbor for international shipping. Sangley Point is a U.S.–Filipino naval reservation near Cavite, on the southeastern shore, and Balanga, on the western shore, is the base of a small fishing fleet.

With an area of 1,994 km sq (769.9 sq mi), and a coastline of 190 km (118.1 mi), Manila Bay is situated in the western part of Luzon and is bounded by Cavite and Metro Manila on the east, Bulacan and Pampanga on the north, and Bataan on the west and northwest.

Manila Bay drains approximately 17,000 km sq (6,563.7 sq mi) of watershed area, with the Pampanga River contributing about 49% of the freshwater influx. With an average depth of 17 m (55.8 ft), it is estimated to have a total volume of 28.9 billion cubic meters (28.9 cubic km). Entrance to the bay is 19 km (11.8 mi) wide and expands to a width of 48 km (29.8 mi). However, width of the bay varies from 22 km (13.7 mi) at its mouth and expanding to 60 km (37.3 mi) at its widest point.

Across the entrance to Manila Bay are several islands, the largest of which is Corregidor, located 3 kilometers from Bataan and, along with the island of Caballo, separates the mouth of the bay into the North and South Channels.Large number of ships at the North and South harbors facilitate maritime activities in the bay. Being smaller of the two harbors, the North Harbor is used for inter-island shipping while the South Harbor is used for large ocean-going vessels.

Manila Bay provides excellent protected anchorage, since it is sheltered by the mountains of Bataan Peninsula (west) and the Cordillera Central (east). Because of its location near the Southeast Asian mainland, it was already commercially important when, in 1571, Spanish colonizers began building fortifications at the site of present-day Manila. In 1574 the Chinese pirate Lim-ah-hong entered the bay with a force of nearly 3,000 but was repulsed by Spanish forces. Manila Bay was the western terminus of the Manila–Acapulco “galleon trade” between 1593 and 1815. The decisive naval battle of the Spanish–American War, the Battle of Manila Bay, took place there on May 1, 1898, when Commo. George Dewey’s U.S. fleet destroyed the Spanish fleet off Cavite. During World War II many Philippine, American, and Japanese ships were sunk by aerial bombardment at Manila, Cavite, Corregidor, and other locations. In February–March 1945 Manila Bay was regained by U.S. forces.

When you think of Manila Bay, two contrasting images come to mind: the first is the bay’s beautiful sunsets, and second is shores and waters littered with trash. Manila Bay hosts the country’s most spectacular sunsets. The bay’s beauty is recounted in songs, poems, and stories. Historic battles have been fought and won in this body of water which once teemed with fish and other marine life.

But the beauty and rich biodiversity of the bay is a thing of the past. Manila Bay is now considered one of the most polluted bays in the world. The bay is nowknown as a reeking cesspool of sludge, human sewage, industrial waste and garbage. Manila Bay has becomea huge dumpsite for the whole of Metro Manila and the other coastal provinces from the Bataan Peninsula down to Cavite, as well as for ships plying the route.

Despite its current state of ruin, the bay is stillan important maritime resource, providing food, livelihood, employment, recreation, to an estimated 23 million Filipinos. Surprisingly, while marine habitats in the bay are severely degraded and polluted, Manila Bay still contains life and gives life. Fisheries and aquaculture serve as major sources of food and livelihood. Common species include hasa-hasa, bisugo, bagaong, pusit, alimasag, and hipon suahe. In addition, mussel and oyster farming are major economic activities, specifically along the coasts of Bataan, Cavite, and parts of Metro Manila.

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