As the ninth largest body of water in the world, the Gulf of Mexico is home to more than 15,420 species. For that reason, it is also considered one of the favorite spots for various fishing activities. From the coastal estuaries to the deep sea floor, it is no wonder that many fishing enthusiasts are eager to explore this unique underwater sanctuary.
To prepare you for your next fishing adventure at the Gulf of Mexico, Ware’s the Fish Charters has listed some of the most fascinating facts about the topography and marine life of this fishing haven.
- The gulf coast offers a range of habitats, including submerged vegetation, important upland areas, offshore areas and over 5 million acres of wetlands.
- There are 31 major estuarine watersheds in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The coastal wetland of the gulf represents 28% of the total US wetland, and open water area represents 41 % of the US total.
- There are 29 marine mammal species found in the Gulf of Mexico, including bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, minke whales, sperm whales, and the West Indian manatee.
- Gulf of Mexico is home to as many as 49 shark species, including Silky, Bull, Lemon, Oceanic Whitetip, Dusky, Tiger, Thresher, several species of hammerhead, and even whale sharks.
- Sargassum is a widespread genus of seaweed that creates floating oases for marine species from sea turtles and seahorses to tuna and billfish. Patches of this seaweed can become so large and dense they can be detected from space.
- Sperm whales also reside at the gulf. Pods of females and young ones can reach 500 to 1,500 in numbers, and when males come to visit, this can hit as high as 3,000.
- The majority of Florida’s sport fish species and other important species spend their lives around coral reefs.
- Coral reef ecosystems in Florida are extremely diverse, supporting more than 6,000 species. This population includes 520 types of fish; 128 varieties of starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars and sea cucumbers; 55 species of soft corals; and 63 species of stony corals.
- Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico include amberjack, crab, grouper, red snapper, shrimp, swordfish, tilefish, and oyster. Commercial fish and shellfish harvest from the five US Gulf states during 2008 was estimated to be 1.3 billion pounds valued at $661 million. Shrimp accounted for 188.8 million pounds and oysters for 20.6 million pounds.
- The Gulf of Mexico has eight of the top twenty fishing ports in the nation by dollar value.