The great ocean inlet to the south of Beleriand, in which lay the Isle of Balar, and into which the River Sirion flowed.
The Bay was formed in the cataclysms that accompanied the Battle of the Powers, long before the First Age, and was said to have been the greatest bay of the sea on the shores of Middle-earth. On its northern coasts lay Arvernien and the Mouths of Sirion, where the Exiles of Gondolin dwelt in the last years of the First Age, and from where Eärendil set out on his voyage to the Undying Lands. Its eastern coastlands were dominated by the great unpeopled forests of Taur-im-Duinath.
Far out in the Bay lay the Isle of Balar, where Círdan the Shipwright dwelt with his people after the loss of the Havens of the Falas. There was great friendship between Círdan and the Exiles at the Mouths of Sirion, and in the late First Age, the Bay must have seen much traffic between the Isle and the Mouths.
Just as it had been created out of the tumults of a war of the Powers, the Bay was destroyed, with the rest of Beleriand, in the War of Wrath between the Valar and Morgoth at the end of the First Age.
In The Etymologies, Tolkien speculates that the name might derive from báláre ('powerful ?lord'), a reference to the Maia Ossë who was said to often come to this region. (The History of Middle-earth Volume 5, The Lost Road and Other Writings III The Etymologies).
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