The Gulf of Paria (Golfo de Paria in Spanish) is a 7800 km2 (3000 square mile) shallow inland sea between the island of Trinidad (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) and the east coast of Venezuela. This sheltered body of water is considered to be one of the best natural harbours on the Atlantic coast of the Americas. It was originally named Golfo de la Ballena (the Gulf of the Whale) by Christopher Columbus, but the 19th Century whaling industry eliminated whales from the area and populations have never recovered.
The Gulf of Paria is connected to the Caribbean Sea to the north through the Bocas del Dragón (or Dragons' Mouth) between the Paria Peninsula of Venezuela and the Chaguaramas Peninsula, and to the Columbus Channel to the south through the Boca del Serpiente (Serpent's Mouth) between the Cedros Peninsula and the Orinoco Delta.
The Gulf of Paria is a brackish water body - wet season salinities are below 23 ppt (parts per thousand). The extensive mangroves along the Venezuelan and Trinidadian coastlines are important wildlife habitat and probably play a crucial role in regional fisheries. The Gulf itself is an important fishery. Major ports include the Port of Port of Spain and the Port of Point Lisas in Trinidad and the Port of Pedernales in Venezuela.