THE CARIBBEAN SEA

Oceans of the World, navigation and safety at sea and conservation of marine species

 

 

Map of the Caribbean Sea, with inset showing world location

 

Map of the Caribbean Sea, with inset showing world location

 

 

The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

The entire area of the Caribbean Sea, the numerous islands of the West Indies, and adjacent coasts, are collectively known as the Caribbean. The Caribbean Sea is one of the largest seas and has an area of about 2,754,000 km² (1,063,000 sq. mi.). The sea's deepest point is the Cayman Trough, between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, at 7,686 m (25,220 ft) below sea level. The Caribbean coastline has many gulfs and bays: the Gulf of Gonâve, Gulf of Venezuela, Gulf of Darién, Golfo de los Mosquitos, Gulf of Paria and Gulf of Honduras.


ECOLOGY

The Caribbean is home to about 9% of the world's coral reefs covering about 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2), most of which are located off the Caribbean Islands and the Central American coast. Among them stands out the Belize Barrier Reef with an area of 96,300 ha which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It forms part of the Great Mayan Reef also known as the MBRS and being over a thousand km in length is the world's second longest. It runs along the Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

During the past ten years, unusually warm Caribbean waters have been increasingly threatening Caribbean coral reefs. Coral reefs support some of the most diverse marine habitats in the world, but they are fragile ecosystems. When tropical waters become unusually warm for extended periods of time, microscopic plants called zooxanthellae, which are symbiotic partners living within the coral polyp tissues, die off. These plants provide food for the corals, and give them their color. The result of the death and dispersal of these tiny plants is called coral bleaching, and can lead to the devastation of large areas of reef. Over 42% of corals are completely bleached and 95% are experiencing some type of whitening.

The habitats supported by the reefs are critical to such tourist activities as fishing and diving, and provide an annual economic value to Caribbean nations of $3.1-$4.6 billion. Continued destruction of the reefs could severely damage the region's economy. A Protocol of the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region came in effect in 1986 to protect the various endangered marine life of the Caribbean through forbidding human activities that would advance the continued destruction of such marine life in various areas. Currently this protocol has been ratified by 15 countries. Also several charitable organisations have been formed to preserve the Caribbean marine life, such as Caribbean Conservation Corporation which seeks to study and protect sea turtles while educating others about them.

In connection with the foregoing, the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, conducted a regional study, funded by the Department of Technical Cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in which specialists from 11 Latin American countries (Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Venezuela plus Jamaica) participated. The findings indicate that heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead, have been identified in the coastal zone of the Caribbean Sea. Analysis of toxic metals and hydrocarbons is based on the investigation of coastal sediments that have accumulated less than 50 meters deep during the last hundred and fifty years. The project results were presented in Vienna in the forum "Water Matters", and the 2011 General Conference of said multilateral organization.


OCEANOGRAPHY

The hydrology of the sea has a high level of homogeneity. Annual variations in monthly average water temperatures at the surface do not exceed 3°C (25°-28°C). Over the past fifty years the Caribbean has gone through three stages: cooling until 1974; a cold phase with peaks during 1974-1976 and 1984-1986 then; a warming phase with increase in temperature of 0.6°C per year. Virtually all temperature extremes were associated with the phenomena of el Niño and la Niña. The salinity of sea water is about 3.6% and its density is 1.0235-1.0240 kg². The surface water colour is blue-green to green.

 

 

 


GEOLOGY

The Caribbean Sea is an oceanic sea largely situated on the Caribbean Plate. The Caribbean Sea is separated from the ocean by several island arcs of various ages. The youngest of them stretches from the Lesser Antilles to the Virgin Islands to the north east of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela. This arc was formed by the collision of the South American Plate with the Caribbean Plate and includes active and extinct volcanoes such as Mount Pelee, the Quill (volcano) on Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean Netherlands and Morne Trois Pitons on Dominica. The larger islands in the northern part of the sea Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico lie on an older island arc. The geological age of the Caribbean Sea is not known with certainty but is estimated to have an age between 160 and 180 million years and was formed by a horizontal fracture that split the supercontinent called Pangea in the Mesozoic Era. It is assumed that the proto-caribbean basin existed in the Devonian period. In the early Carboniferous movement of Gondwana to the north and its convergence with the Euramerica basin decreased in size. The next stage of the formation of the Caribbean Sea began in the Triassic. 

 

Powerful rifting led to the formation of narrow troughs, stretching from modern Newfoundland to the west coast of the Gulf of Mexico which formed siliciclastic sedimentary rocks. In the early Jurassic due to powerful marine transgression, water broke into the present area of the Gulf of Mexico creating a vast shallow pool here. The emergence of deep basins in the Caribbean occurred during the era of the Middle Jurassic rifting. The emergence of these basins marked the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean and contributed to the destruction of Pangaea at the end of the late Jurassic. During the Cretaceous the Caribbean acquired the shape close to that seen today. In the early Paleogene due to Marine regression the Caribbean became separated from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean by the land of Cuba and Haiti. The Caribbean remained like this for most of the Cenozoic until the Holocene when rising water levels of the oceans restored communication with the Atlantic Ocean.

The floor of the Caribbean is composed of sub-oceanic sediments of deep red clay in the deep basins and troughs. On continental slopes and ridges calcareous silts are found. Clay minerals likely having been deposited by the mainland river Orinoco and the Magdalena River. Deposits on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico have a thickness of about 1 km. Upper sedimentary layers relate to the period from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic (250 million years ago to present) and the lower layers from the Paleozoic to the Mesozoic.

The Caribbean sea floor is divided into five basins separated from each other by underwater ridges and mountain ranges. Atlantic Ocean water enters the Caribbean through the Anegada Passage lying between the Lesser Antilles and Virgin Islands and the Windward Passage located between Cuba and Haiti. The Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba links the Gulf of Mexico with the Caribbean. The deepest points of the sea lie in Cayman Trough with depths reaching approximately 7,686 m (25,220 ft). Despite this, the Caribbean Sea is considered a relatively shallow sea in comparison to other bodies of water.

 

 

 

The Gulf (Golfstream) Stream

 

 

 

 

 

ACIDIFICATION - ADRIATIC - ARCTIC - ATLANTIC - BALTIC - BAY BENGAL - BERING - CARIBBEAN - CORAL - EAST CHINA

ENGLISH CH - GOC - GULF GUINEA - GULF MEXICO - INDIAN - IOC - IRC - MEDITERRANEAN - NORTH SEA - PACIFIC - PERSIAN GULF - SEA JAPAN

STH CHINA - PLASTIC - PLANKTON - PLASTIC OCEANS - SEA LEVEL RISE - UNCLOS - UNEP WOC - WWF

AMAZON - BURIGANGA - CITARUM - CONGO - CUYAHOGA - GANGES - IRTYSH - JORDAN  - LENA - MANTANZA-RIACHUELO

MARILAO - MEKONG - MISSISSIPPI - NIGER - NILE - PARANA - PASIG - SARNO - THAMES - YANGTZE - YAMUNA - YELLOW



 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

Wikipedia Caribbean_Sea

The Economist Black Storm Rising

Bloomberg Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Council

Gulfmex

Wikipedia Gulf_of_Mexico

Wikipedia Blowouts_well_drilling notable_offshore

Wikipedia List_of_oil_spills

Wikipedia International_Convention_for_the_Safety_of_Life_at_Sea

http://www.economist.com/node/16059982

http://topics.bloomberg.com/gulf-of-mexico/

http://www.gulfcouncil.org/

http://www.gulfmex.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Mexico

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowout_%28well_drilling%29#Notable_offshore_well_blowouts

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Convention_for_the_Safety_of_Life_at_Sea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean_Sea

 

 

 

A ripping good pirate treasure yarn in hostlie Caribben waters

 

LORD HUNTINGTON - a prominent member of the British Geographical Society, acquires an ancient parchment on the deathbed of a famous explorer, handed down through generations, father the son, which contains clues to the location of pirate, English Teach's (Blackbeard) secret treasure trove on an Island in the Caribbean, said to be guarded by a macabre human spirit manifesting itself as human skull. More to the point these islands are patrolled by the US and South American navies who are in a cold war situation.

Huntington hires John Storm for his expertise in marine archaeology as a consultant to the expedition and the Elizabeth Swan, a solar powered ship, for its stealth cloaking ability making the boat invisible to radar. They find the Island avoiding contact with any of the Bolivarian Republic's (of Venezuela) warships which might arouse curiosities but despite all efforts to keep the reason for the expedition a secret, the word is leaked out by a one of Huntington's arch rivals to a corrupt naval officer, who engages a cutthroat gang of mercenaries to steal the treasure and glory for himself.

The treacherous rival gang soon invades the Island intent on getting the treasure for themselves, having first sabotaged the Elizabeth Swan ..........

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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