The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin in North America and the bordering sea of the Atlantic Ocean. Three countries share its mineral rich waters; the Gulf Coast of the United States, Cuba in the southeast and Mexico in the southwest.
It serves a very important part of North and South America trading system. The Gulf links the port of five US states and six Mexican states. It also serves as the passageway for these ports going to the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
The Gulf of Mexico early beginnings
About 300 million years ago tectonic plates shifted which created the Mexican basin known as the Gulf of Mexico. When the mega-continent called Pangea started to spread about 180 million years ago it formed the Gulf's basin. Experts considered the Gulf of Mexico as a true ocean basin because of sea-floor spreading theory.
Million years ago, a 6,000 km long cracked the two supercontinents, Laurentia and Gondwana. Laurentia became the North America we know today while Gondwana created South America and Africa. The separation created a roughly oval basin measuring 1,500 km wide in rich sedimentary rocks.
The most interesting facts about the Gulf of Mexico
· The Gulf of Mexico is considered as the 9th largest body of water in the world.
· The US state of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana borders the Gulf. As well as Vera Cruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Tamaulipas, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán in Mexico. These places had interconnected ports along the gulf.
· 33 major rivers and 207 estuaries which compose 60% of the inland bodies of water in the US drains into the Gulf of Mexico. Other freshwater sources of the Gulf came from the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba.
· The Gulf's shorelines measures about 5 million acres of coastal wetlands. It serves as a significant habitat for 75% migratory waterfowl crossing the US. It houses hundreds of fish and wildlife species on the continent.
· Due to a narrow passageway to the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico experiences very little tidal ranges. The 615,000 square miles basin composes of nearly half shallow continental shelf waters.
· The Gulf only holds 2,500 quadrillion liters of water or 600,000 cubics mi.
· Traversing to the Gulf is relatively easy with only 1,000 miles distance from east to west.
· The shortest distance between the US and Mexico is about 500 miles from Mississippi Delta to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.
· The “Grand Canyon under the Sea”, the deepest part of the Gulf lies 200 miles southeast of Brownsville Texas. It has a depth measuring 12,000 feet underwater.
· Resembling the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico is also partially land-locked, semi-enclosed and intercontinental marginal sea.
· The neighboring towns of Mexico and the US form the Gulf’s mainland shore. From the Florida Keys to Cabo Catoche, the northwestern area of the Yucatan Peninsula, it stretches about 4,000 miles of land.
· The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary houses the tropical coral reef in the northern part of the US.
· At least 49 shark species dwell in the Gulf of Mexico. Other marine mammals and turtles also inhabit the waters of the Gulf. Some 24 species are already considered as threatened, endangered or species of concern.
· The BP Deepwater disaster spilled oil for three months discharging at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the gulf. To date, the disaster remains as the largest accidental marine oil spill.
The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most exciting place you'll ever visit in your lifetime! Take a piece of the gulf with you with our 3-D nautical wood chart of the Gulf of Mexico today!