Here at Ocean Reef Resorts, we believe the biggest is also the best, most beautiful and bountiful gulf on the planet. Can you guess which one it is? The countdown begins from the fifth largest leading up to the biggest in the gulf world!
#5 - The Persian Gulf
Hint. It is where most of the world’s oil comes from. If you guessed the Persian Gulf, you are correct! It is also home to some of the world’s most significant conflicts in warfare. It was a battlefield from 1980 until 1988 during the Iran – Iraq war when each side attacked the other’s oil tankers. This gulf is located between the Arab Peninsula toward the southwest as well as the nations of Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait towards the northeast. It is an extension of the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz. Besides oil, this gulf has extensive fishing grounds, abundant precious pearl oysters, magnificent sea life, some whales, finless porpoises, dolphin and migratory birds like Greater Flamingos. Unfortunately, they have been severely affected by warfare, industrialization and oil spills.
#4 - Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay is actually a gulf that is bordered on all sides by Canada in the far north where it connects to the Arctic Ocean. Hudson “Bay” drains an extensive area that includes the Canadian provinces of Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. Passages of water also extend to parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. It was named after English explorer Henry Hudson, who also discovered the river in New York by the same name in the early 1600s. The original Eastern Cree Indians who inhabited this area first named it the “Winipekw” which translates to muddy of brackish water, due to its relatively shallow depth and amount of rivers that connect to it. This frigid polar place freezes over during most of the year and has only fourteen coastal villages with populations that include between 437 to 1,779 hardy inhabitants. In recent years due to global climate changes, ice melts as far north as the Arctic Ocean are making it a prized possession among Canadian and Russian interests to establish new trade routes between the two countries.
#3 - Gulf of Alaska
Another very cold place, which happens to be the third largest in the world, is the Gulf of Alaska. This is the northernmost border of the Pacific Ocean, where it runs along the southern Alaska coast from Kodiak Island in the Aleutian Isle chain arcing all the way over to the southeast past the capital of Juneau to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Almost half of all the islands in Alaska are located on this gulf. The rugged coastline has forested mountains, fjords, and Alaska’s largest glaciers. Deep ports like Cook’s Inlet and Prince William Sound provide safe harbor for fishing boats. It has been rumored to be a place where the gulf and an ocean do not mix, showing documented photos of a unique phenomenon that occurs briefly each year. During the summer month’s melted glacial waters and rivers with heavy sediment flow into the gulf. They do not mix easily at first due to differences in water density. This creates a distinct line with a brilliant blue color from the fresh water on one side that borders the darker slate blue color of the Pacific on the other which is quite a sight to see. Ecotourism to the Gulf of Alaska has flourished over the years as many people take cruises to experience the amazing sea life along with the magnificent scenery which includes the giant glaciers, forested mountains, and whales.
#2 - The Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea is the second largest gulf in the world it borders the western arch of the African coast beside the Atlantic. The coastline extends across the nations of Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Several rivers flow into this gulf from interior Africa, the largest of which is the Niger. The rivers cause a low level of salinity in this shallow gulf which is less than 100 feet deep at most, so there is a sparse amount of sea life. For this reason coastal Africans have not pursued seafaring ventures on the gulf. A chain of islands extends southwesterly into the gulf in a direct line. Most of them are volcanic islands but two of them form the stable Democratic Republic of Sao Tome’ and Principe. These islands were settled in the 1600s by Portuguese colonists who established sugar, cocoa and coffee plantations due to rich dormant volcanic soils as well as its sunny equatorial location. These scenic islands have great potential for ecotourism, which is supported by the government.
#1 - The Gulf of Mexico
The biggest, best and most bountiful body of water is….. The Gulf of Mexico! This 600,000 square mile water basin is bounded by part of the western Atlantic, Cuba, most of the eastern coast of Mexico, and the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The coastline extends an astonishing 3,540 miles from Key West, Florida to the tip of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Although its coastal areas are somewhat shallow the deepest point in the center is almost three miles deep, going down 14,383 linear feet. The astonishing diversity of sea life supports the largest fishery in the world for its abundance. The cornucopia from the gulf includes Amberjack, Crabs, Grouper, King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Oysters, Red Snapper, Shrimp, Spanish Mackerel, Swordfish, Tilefish, Triggerfish and Tuna and Vermillion Snapper. Fishing is the number one industry on the gulf and Destin, Florida harbors the largest private charter fishing fleet in the nation. Tourism and big oil clash as the two other major economies, which account for 100 billion and 128 billion respectively.
Coastal areas along the gulf include 5,000,000 acres of Wetlands, which is a favorite winter home to millions of migratory snowbirds of the feathered variety. During the peak in fall 2,500,000 landings per night have been documented along the Louisiana coast alone. Scores of marine mammal species are found in the great gulf including Bottlenose Dolphins, five types of Sea Turtles, Manatees in southern Florida along with Sharks, Humpback, Sperm, and Minke Whales. An extensive coral reef system in southwestern Florida supports thousands of species including 520 different types of fish as well as 130 varieties of Starfish, Sand Dollars, Sea Urchins and Sea Cucumbers. The Gulf Stream, which is one of the strongest currents in the world, warms the gulf and carries this warmth northward along the Atlantic coast.
The coastal shores of Florida from Naples to Pensacola Beach are composed of shimmering white quartz crystal in a powdery form. The glacial action of the last Ice Age shaved off this quartz crystal from the peaks of the Appalachian Mountains. It was then carried down to the gulf through rivers and ground down through the ages to its sugary form. The bright white sandy bottom of the gulf here reflects light through natural tiny microscopic sea plankton which makes the water glow an emerald-colored green. Over the past few decades, these sparkling shores have been discovered, and tourists flock down to experience the spectacular seascape.
The Emerald Coast
One of them is known as The Emerald Coast in northwest Florida, which extends from Panama City Beach, across South Walton on Scenic 30A, through Miramar Beach, and into Destin. If you want to take an in-person peek of this part of the gulf, start planning your gulf vacation now!