14 Surprising (and Amazing) Facts About the Gulf of Mexico

People are drawn to Panama City Beach’s pristine coastline. Its sugar-white sand that is so clean it “squeaks”, make it a perfect vacation spot. But what would our beaches be without the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico gently lapping at the shore, inviting us to come in and play? But what do you really know about our corner of the world? Check out some of these surprising facts about the Gulf of Mexico:

Just the Facts Ma’am

1. Covering about 600,000 square miles, the Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world.

2. Surrounded by the United States, Mexico, and Cubas, the Gulf has only a narrow connection to the Atlantic Ocean, making it a partially landlocked basin.

3. With the exception of one extremely deep trough, the Gulf is over the continental shelves of North America, making it—compared to other parts of the ocean—relatively shallow.

4. The Gulf has approximately 3,540 miles of coastline, from the tip of the Yucatan to the tip of Florida … no that’s A LOT of amazing beaches to enjoy!

Lots of Biodiversity … ummm, that means TONS of Different Animals & Plants

5. Habitats are the places where plants and animals live. Along the gulf coast you’ll find a wide range of habitats from deep ocean, to wetlands (5 MILLION acres to be exact), to submerged vegetation. This means there are plenty of places to live!

6. 29 different marine mammals call the Gulf home. Sperm whales, humpback whales, manatee and bottlenose dolphin (our favorite) hunt, sleep, and pee (gross) in the Gulf of Mexico.

7. 5 species of endangered sea turtles hand out in the tropical water. Green sea turtles, Loggerhead sea turtles, and Leatherback sea turtles are often seen swimming off the coast of Panama City Beach and even come to shore to rest or lay eggs.

8. Upwards of 49 shark species swim in the waters of the Gulf-not all of them dangerous. The amazing whale shark is a shark that actually is a vegetarian is one of the endangered animals currently being protected.

9. Sargassum seaweed floats in large masses on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, making a perfect place to hide for ocean animals like turtles, sea horses and various fish.

10. In addition to the traditional coastal birds typical of tropical areas, like gulls, hawks and plovers, many migratory land birds also fly over the Gulf.

Natural and Man-Made Coral Reefs

11. Coral reefs grow under very specific depths, temperatures and nutrient rich waters. Because the coast of Florida has the perfect conditions, nearly 60% of reefs located in the US are off the coast of Florida.

12. Panama City Beach is known as the “Shipwreck Capital of the South” because it has so many sunken ships off its coast-perfect for a man-made coral reef.

13. Coral reef ecosystems in Florida support more than 6,000 species of marine organisms including 520 species of fish, 128 different types of seastars, sand dollars, 55 varieties of soft and 63 varieties of stony corals, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Whew, that’s a lot of things to see!

14. Sport fishing is awesome off the coast of Panama City Beach due to the high number of reefs where fish tend to congregate.

The BEST part of the Gulf of Mexico

Of course we think Panama City Beach has the prettiest coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. (But we may be a little bias.) With one of the highest concentrations of bottlenose dolphin in the world, the shallow waters off the beaches of Shell Island give you an opportunity to enjoy the emerald green water and see some of the inhabitants of the Gulf up close and personal. Let DOLPHIN EXPRESS be your tour guide to the amazing Gulf, the Panama City Beach coastline and the world of the bottlenose dolphin. Give us a call, stop by Lighthouse Marina or use our convenient online feature to book your Panama City Beach dolphin tour today!