• cove
    A cove protects a harbor.

    Photograph by Justin Locke

    Lulworth Cove
    Lulworth Cove on the southern coast of England has become a major tourist attraction, with more than 1 million people visiting it each year. The horseshoe-shaped cove, part of the so-called Jurassic Coast, contains fossils that are tens of millions of years old, and has layers of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous-era rocks.

    A cove is a type of small, sheltered bay on the coast of an ocean, lake, or river
     
    Sometimes, coves are smaller inlets of larger bays or lagoons. Cangrejo Cove, part of the Antarctic Peninsula, is sometimes called "Bahia Cangrejo," for instance. When viewed from above, the spit of land creating the feature looks like the claw of a crayfish—cangrejo, in the native Spanish of the Argentine explorers who first identified the cove.
     
    Coves usually have narrow entrances. This protects the water of the cove from the turbulent currents and waves of the larger body of water. In fact, the word cove comes from the Old English word cofa, which means shelter or hut.
     
    Many ancient settlements have been discovered on the shores of coves. In freshwater ecosystems, such as lakes, coves provided safe access to water for drinking and hygiene. In marine ecosystems, coves provided access to fish and other seafood. Archaeologists have uncovered artifacts from the mesolithic (around 7000 BCE) in Ferriter's Cove, on the Dingle Peninsula in southwestern Ireland, for example. These artifacts hinted at a fishing community that inhabited the site during the summer.
     
    Coves usually form through the process of weathering. Weathering is the process of breaking down or dissolving rocks on Earth's surface. Rain, wind, ice, chemicals, and even plants can weather rock.
     
    The rocks surrounding a cove are often soft and vulnerable to weathering. Such rocks include sandstone, clay, and limestone. Limestone Cove, part of the Cherokee National Forest in the U.S. state of Tennessee, for instance, is a sheltered cove on North Indian Creek.
     
    Even hard rocks are vulnerable to weathering and may form the entrance to coves. Hard rock includes quartz or granite. The so-called "Pink Granite Coast" of Brittany, France, includes many coves popular with kayakers.
     
    The weathering that creates a cove can occur many different ways. Crashing waves can break off large chunks of rock all at once. Seawater contains certain kinds of acids that can wear away at rocks. The steady movement of tides and currents can also slowly weather a shoreline to create the entrance to a cove.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    acid Noun

    chemical compound that reacts with a base to form a salt. Acids can corrode some natural materials. Acids have pH levels lower than 7.

    ancient Adjective

    very old.

    archaeologist Noun

    person who studies artifacts and lifestyles of ancient cultures.

    artifact Noun

    material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.

    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    claw Noun

    sharp, curved nail on the foot of some animals, used for protection, predation, climbing, or grooming.

    coast Noun

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: coast
    cove Noun

    small inlet or bay in a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: cove
    crayfish Noun

    crustacean resembling a small lobster. Also called a crawdad.

    current Noun

    steady, predictable flow of fluid within a larger body of that fluid.

    Encyclopedic Entry: current
    ecosystem Noun

    community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem
    freshwater Adjective

    having to do with a habitat or ecosystem of a lake, river, or spring.

    hygiene Noun

    science and methods of keeping clean and healthy.

    inhabit Verb

    to live in a specific place.

    inlet Noun

    small indentation in a shoreline.

    inlet Noun

    small indentation in a shoreline.

    lagoon Noun

    shallow body of water that may have an opening to a larger body of water, but is also protected from it by a sandbar or coral reef.

    Encyclopedic Entry: lagoon
    lake Noun

    body of water surrounded by land.

    marine Adjective

    having to do with the ocean.

    Mesolithic adjective, noun

    (12,000-3000 BCE) Stone Age time period between the Paleolithic and Neolithic. Also called the Middle Stone Age and Epipaleolithic.

    ocean Noun

    large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ocean
    peninsula Noun

    piece of land jutting into a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: peninsula
    river Noun

    large stream of flowing fresh water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: river
    rock Noun

    natural substance composed of solid mineral matter.

    settlement Noun

    community or village.

    shelter Noun

    structure that protects people or other organisms from weather and other dangers.

    shoreline Noun

    beach, or where a body of water meets land.

    spit Noun

    narrow point of land extending into water.

    tide Noun

    rise and fall of the ocean's waters, caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun.

    Encyclopedic Entry: tide
    turbulent Adjective

    violent or chaotic.

    vulnerable Adjective

    capable of being hurt.

    wave Noun

    moving swell on the surface of water.

    weather Verb

    to change as a result of exposure to wind, rain, or other atmospheric conditions.

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