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Bodega Bay
Wpdms usgs photo bodega bay.jpg
Location of Bodega Bay and Bodega Harbor
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Nearest city Bodega Bay, California
Area 3,170 acres (1,280 ha)
Built 1811
NRHP reference No. 73000461
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 18, 1973
Bodega Bay viewed from Dillon Beach, CA
Bodega Bay viewed from Dillon Beach.
Pictures 1239
Bodega Bay, photographed on July 16th, 2007.

Bodega Bay is a shallow, rocky inlet of the Pacific Ocean on the coast of northern California in the United States. It is approximately 5 mi (8 km) across and is located approximately 40 mi (60 km) northwest of San Francisco and 20 mi (32 km) west of Santa Rosa. The bay straddles the boundary between Sonoma County to the north and Marin County to the south. The bay is a marine habitat used for navigation, recreation (including swimming and surfing, especially by the Dillon Beach area), and commercial and sport fishing (including shellfish harvesting).

Bodega Bay is protected on its north end from the Pacific Ocean by Bodega Head, which shelters the small Bodega Harbor and is separated from the main bay by a jetty. The San Andreas Fault runs parallel to the coastline and bisects Bodega Head, which lies on the Pacific Plate; the town is on the North American Plate. The village of Bodega Bay sits on the east side of Bodega Harbor. The bay connects on its south end to the mouth of Tomales Bay.

Streams flowing into Bodega Bay include the Estero de San Antonio and the Americano Creek. Accessible beaches on Bodega Bay include Doran Regional Park (on the jetty) and Pinnacle Gulch. Apart from the harbor, all of Bodega Bay lies within the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

History

Coast Miwok Native Americans lived on the shores of Bodega Bay. Documented village names include: Helapattai, Hime-takala, Ho-takala, and Tokau. There is speculation that Bodega Bay may have been Sir Francis Drake's Nova Albion landing location on the California coast.

Present day Bodega Bay was first charted in 1775 by the Spanish Peruvian explorer of the Spanish Navy Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, but the bay that was originally named for him was not present day Bodega, but Tomales Bay. His ship, the Sonora, anchored in the lee of Tomales Point on October 3, 1775, departing the next day. Bodega y Quadra named Tomales Bay Puerto de la Bodega. "There is no evidence in the journal or on the charts that Bodega y Quadra ever saw the entrance to [present day] Bodega Harbor or knew of the lagoon to the north". Bodega y Quadra planned to return, but was not able to. Later, as commandant of the naval base at San Blas, New Spain, Bodega y Quadra sent other expeditions to Bodega Bay with the intention of establishing a colony and mission there. It was decided, however, that the location was non-ideal.

The first Russians to see Bodega Bay were the supervisors of the Aleut hunting parties aboard the American otter hunting ship Peacock in 1807. Timofei Nikitich Tarakanov of the Russian-American Company returned to Novo Arkhangelsk, Alaska and reported the location to Alexander Andreyevich Baranov, the chief administrator of the RAC. Baranov instructed his assistant Ivan Kuskov to survey the area for a settlement. Kuskov, the Commerce Counselor of the Russian-American Company sailing in the Kodiak, entered Bodega Bay on January 8, 1809. Instructed by Baranov to leave "secret signs" (possession plates), Kuskov buried possession plaques at Trinidad Harbor, Bodega Head (or Tomales Point) and on the north shore of San Francisco Bay, indicating the company's intention to claim this section of northern California for Russia. Temporary buildings were erected to house the ship's complement of 190 crew (130 native Alaskan males, 20 native females, and 40 Russians).

The Kodiak remained in Bodega Bay until October, 1809, returning to Alaska with more than 2,000 otter pelts. Kuskov returned to Novo Arkhangelsk, reporting abundant fur bearing mammals, fish, timber and tillable lands. Baranov instructed Kuskov to return and establish a permanent settlement in the area. In 1811, Kuskov returned, this time aboard the Chirikov but found fewer otter in Bodega Bay (only 1,160 otter skins were taken). Three American ships were also operating in the area from a base in Drake's Bay, sending hunters into San Francisco Bay and the surrounding bays.

Kuskov sailed the Brig Chirikov back to present day Bodega Harbor on March 15, 1812; and as Bodega Anchorage and Bodega Harbor had not been claimed by the Spanish" Kuskov named it in honor of the Russian Minister of Commerce, Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev.

Chart of a section of the coast of Northwest America from Fortress Ross to Point Great Bodega
Russian chart of Fort Ross to Bodega Bay, 1817-18. Bodega Harbor and Bay appear in the upper right.

Zaliv Rumyantsev (Rumyantsev Bay) appears on the earliest Russian charts of Bodega Bay (1817–1819) identifying present day Bodega Bay and Bodega Harbor. Bodega Head was named Mouis Rumyantsev (Point Rumyantsev). Tomales Point was named Point Great Bodega and Tomales Bay Great Bodega Bay, more or less conforming to Bodega y Quadra's original naming.

On his return trip, Kuskov found the otter population clearly scarce in Bodega Bay, and the harbor being frequented by numerous American and English otter-hunting expeditions. After exploring the area, they ended up selecting a place 15 mi (24 km) north that the native Kashaya Pomo people called Mad shui nui or Metini. Metini, the seasonal home of the native Kashaya Pomo people, had a modest anchorage and abundant natural resources and would become the Russian settlement of Fort Ross.

By 1817, sea otters in this area were practically eliminated by international over-hunting. Zaliv Rumyantsev continued to be the main entrepôt for the Russian Colony until January 1842, and the earliest European structures built at Bodega Bay were the wharf, warehouse and barracks of the Russian-American Company.

Bodega Bay remained an active harbor for shipping lumber until the 1870s, when the North Pacific Coast Railroad was built, bypassing the coast in favor of a more inland route.

A plan by Pacific Gas & Electric to build a nuclear power plant received significant negative attention from local citizens, beginning in 1958. By 1964, the plans for the plant were abandoned.

Bodega Bay was the setting for the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds starring Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette.

In October, 2017, Bodega Bay, on the northwest edge of Sonoma County, served as a site of refuge and supply depot for evacuees who are escaping from a historic, fast-moving, destructive fire in northern California, especially residents from that area. People from Santa Rosa and other regions affected by the raging wildfire started pouring in not long after the blazes started.

Marine protected areas near Bodega Bay

Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.

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