Surrounded by the North American continent, the Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin that splits the Atlantic Ocean. The Gulf of Mexico has a very strategic location; it’s on the north and northwest of the US Gulf Coast, southeast of Cuba, south, and southwest of Mexico.
The five US states, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi surrounds the Gulf of Mexico on the north. It’s often referred as the “Third Coast”, “South Coast” and even the “North Coast” in association with the Great Lakes.
Scientists and geographical experts believed that the Gulf of Mexico formed about 300 million years ago because of tectonic plate movements in the northern hemisphere. It holds around 2,500 quadrillion liters of waters, in a surface area of 1.6 million km2 of the shallow continental shelf waters. One of the most important characteristics of the gulf is the Gulf Stream. It’s known for its warm Atlantic current that starts in the area and flows outward into the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its temperature, the water temperature in the Gulf feeds the hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean and giving them more intensity. Hurricanes are the most common natural phenomenon that occurs along the Gulf Coast.
Scientists can’t help but marvel at the gulf’s amazing history and rich biological diversity. Here are some of the facts about the gulf.
Early Beginning of the Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is the 9th largest body of water on Earth, stretching around 600,000 square miles it borders five US states in the north, five Mexican states in the west and the country of Cuba in its southern part.
About 30 million years ago, colliding continental plates and with the sea, floor sinking created the gulf during the Late Triassic period. The gulf is partially landlocked ocean basin with a very narrow connection to the Atlantic Ocean that surrounds North America and Cuba. One of the main features of the gulf is its shallow waters and a trough that measures a plunge as deep as over 14,000 feet.
The gulf serves as a home to 29 marine mammal species including humpback whales, minke whales, sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, and the West Indian manatee. Most of these species are protected by the government which is either threatened or endangered. Five species of endangered sea turtles including Hawksbill sea turtles, Green sea turtles, Kemp's ridley sea turtles, Leatherback sea turtles and Loggerhead sea turtles live deep in its waters. Because of this, the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most highly priced bio ecological locations on the planet.
With over 5 million acres of wetlands, the gulf also has a wide range of habitats that include submerged vegetation, marine areas, and vital upland areas for different species of animals. Its coastal wetlands are the equivalent 28% of the total wetlands in the US. While the gulf’s open sea water represents 41% of the US total. In order to protect the very diverse ecological life in the Gulf, the government put 31 major estuarine watersheds. As many as 2.5 million birds each day travel the Gulf of Mexico during seasonal migrations and landing on Louisiana to rest.
The sea waters in the Gulf have a big contribution to the fishing industry that surrounds its area. It has one of the four largest fishing ports in the US. The gulf is one of the largest shrimp and oysters producers in the world.