Straits of Florida

The Straits of Florida, Florida Straits, or Florida Strait (Spanish: Estrecho de Florida) is a strait located south-southeast of the North American mainland, generally accepted to be between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and between the Florida Keys (U.S.) and Cuba. It is 150 km (93 mi) wide at the narrowest point between Key West and the Cuban shore, and has been sounded to a depth of 6,000 feet (1,800 m).[1] The strait carries the Florida Current, the beginning of the Gulf Stream, from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Straits of Florida
The Florida straits, the L-shaped channel between southeastern Florida and the Bahamas, and the Florida Keys and Cuba
The Florida straits, the L-shaped channel between southeastern Florida and the Bahamas, and the Florida Keys and Cuba.
Florida Straits from Space

Oil and gas

Five wells were drilled in state waters south of the Florida Keys from 1947 to 1962. Gulf Oil drilled three wells in federal waters south of the Florida Keys in 1960 and 1961. All the wells were dry holes.

The boundary between the Exclusive Economic Zones of the US and Cuba is halfway between Cuba and Florida, as determined by a 1977 treaty between the US and Cuba.[2]

Offshore Cuba

Cuba has three producing offshore oil fields within 5 km of its north coast opposite Florida.[3] The US Geological Survey estimates that the North Cuba Basin contains 5,500,000,000 barrels (870,000,000 m3) of undiscovered petroleum liquids and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, almost all in the offshore part of the basin.[4]

The issue of allowing oil and gas exploration offshore Florida became a hotly contested topic in the 2008 US elections. In a column published 5 June 2008, syndicated columnist George Will wrote that a Chinese oil company was then drilling in Cuban waters 60 miles (97 km) from the Florida coast, a claim that was repeated by candidates in favor of offshore drilling.[5] In fact, no drilling was then taking place in that part of Cuban waters.

In 2004 the Spanish oil company Repsol drilled in deep Cuban waters between Cuba and the Florida Keys, and found an oil deposit; the deposit was judged noncommercial, and the hole was plugged.[6] In October 2008, Cuba signed an agreement with the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, which provides for Petrobras to drill for oil and gas in deep waters off the north shore of Cuba.[7][8] In July 2009, Cuba signed an agreement with the Russian government giving the Russian oil company Zarubezhneft oil exploration rights off the north shore of Cuba.[9] By May 2011 Petrobas had withdrawn from the 2008 agreement due to poor prospects.[10]

Offshore Bahamas

In 2009 the Falkland Islands-registered company Bahamas Petroleum Company Ltd. and Norwegian company Statoil announced a joint venture to drill for oil in Bahamian waters north of Cuba and southeast of Florida.[11][12] The government of the Bahamas has indicated that applications for offshore drilling are on hold pending negotiations with Cuba, the United States, and the Turks and Caicos Islands on the exact boundaries between their respective Exclusive Economic Zones.[13]

See also

Coordinates: 23°56′03″N 80°55′33″W / 23.93417°N 80.92583°W


  1. ^
  2. ^ United Nations, Maritime boundary - modus vivendi effected by exchange of letters between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba, 27 April 1977, PDF file.
  3. ^ University of Texas, Jorge R Pinon Cervera: Cuba's energy challenge: a second look Archived 2009-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, PDF file, retrieved 3 March 2009.
  4. ^ Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the North Cuba Basin, Cuba, 2004, (2005) US Geological Survey, Fact Sheet.
  5. ^ George Will (5 June 2008): The gas price we deserve, accessed 13 March 2009.
  6. ^ Reuters (16 April 2008): Cuban off-shore drilling put off until 2009, accessed 11 March 2009.
  7. ^ Time (23 October 2008): How Cuba's oil could change the US embargo Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  8. ^ "Petrobras signs with Cuba", World Oil, December 2008, p.109.
  9. ^ BBC News, Russia to drill for oil off Cuba, 29 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Petrobas abandons oil exploration in Cuba". MercoPress. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  11. ^ Reuters (18 May 2009): BPC Limited and StatoilHydro to reopen Bahamian energy exploration with offshore..., accessed 28 May 2009.
  12. ^ BPC website, Overview of assets, accessed 15 July 2009.
  13. ^ Vernon Clement Jones, "Deveaux confirms Cuban oil negotiations" Archived 2009-06-29 at the Wayback Machine, Nassau Guardian, 7 July 2009, accessed 15 July 2009
Almendares River

The Almendares River is a 45 km river in the western part of Cuba. It originates from the east of Tapaste and flows north-west into the Straits of Florida. The river acts as a water supply for Havana.

The final stretch divides the municipalities of Plaza de la Revolución (Miramar district) and Playa (Vedado district). Part of the river valley forms the Almendares Park or Metropolitan Park of Havana (PMH), a few kilometers upstream from the ocean.

Several industrial plants line the river banks (paper mills, gas production plants, breweries, food production plants, construction plants).

One of the three major projects by the Havana authorities is to continue the rehabilitation of the PMH (the other two being the restoration of the Old Town and the depollution of the Havana Bay): monitor and control water pollution, reduce and rationalize

industrial occupation, maintain the old trees and the vegetation in the park. The area is gradually becoming a green oasis with playground, a few restaurants and footpaths.

Blind Pass

Blind Pass is the strait that separates Captiva Island from Sanibel Island in Lee County, Florida.

Boca de Jaruco

Boca de Jaruco (English: Mouth of Jaruco) is a small fishing village in the Mayabeque Province of Cuba. It is located in the municipality of Santa Cruz del Norte, at the mouth of the Rio Jaruco, on the Straits of Florida.

Captiva Pass

Captiva Pass is the strait that separates North Captiva Island from La Costa Island in Lee County, Florida.

The pass connects the Gulf of Mexico to the west with Pine Island Sound to the east.

Caxambas Pass

Caxambas Pass is the strait that separates Marco Island from Kice Island in Collier County, Florida.

The pass connects the Gulf of Mexico to the west with Caxambas Bay to the east. Massive sharks inhabit this area.

Cay Sal Bank

Cay Sal Bank (Spanish: Placer de los Roques) is the third largest (after Great Bahama Bank and Little Bahama Bank) and the westernmost of the Bahama Banks. It is located between 23º27'N - 24º10'N and 079º25'W – 080º35'W. In a geographical sense, it is separate from the Bahamas proper as it is much closer to Cuba (from which it is separated by Nicholas Channel, at a distance of 50 km (31 mi)) than to the closest Bahamanian island. It is separated by Santaren Channel from the Great Bahama Bank, the western rim of which is 50 km (31 mi) to the east. The Straits of Florida separate it from the United States mainland and the Florida Keys (Key Largo is 100 km (62 mi) to the north).

Administratively, the bank and its islands are part of Bimini district, the main islands of which are 150 km (93 mi) to the north. The closest point of any other named Bahamian land to the bank is Orange Cay (24°56′24″N 79°08′45″W), the southernmost island of the Bimini Chain. The distance between Orange Cay and the nearest dry land of Cay Sal Bank, the Dog Rocks, is 120 km (75 mi). The westernmost tip of Andros is the second closest point of land, approximately 145 km (90 mi) east of Cay Sal Bank.

Florida Current

The Florida Current is a thermal ocean current that flows from the Straits of Florida around the Florida Peninsula and along the southeastern coast of the United States before joining the Gulf Stream Current near Cape Hatteras. Its contributing currents are the Loop Current and the Antilles Current. The current was discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513.

The Florida Current results from the movement of water pushed from the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea by the rotation of the Earth (which exerts a greater force at the equator). The water piles up along Central America and flows northward through the Yucatán Channel into the Gulf of Mexico. The water is heated in the Gulf and forced out through the Florida Straits, between the Florida Keys and Cuba and flows northward along the east coast of the United States. The Florida Current is often referred to imprecisely as the Gulf Stream. In fact, the Florida Current joins the Gulf Stream off the east coast of Florida.

Gasparilla Pass

Gasparilla Pass is an inlet southwest of the town of Placida, Florida, United States. It connects Placida Harbor with the Gulf of Mexico separating Gasparilla Island on the south from Little Gasparilla Island on the north.

Geography of Cuba

Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. Cuba has an official area (land area) of 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi). Its area is 110,860 km2 (42,800 sq mi) including coastal and territorial waters. The main island (Cuba) has 5,746 km (3,570 mi) of coastline and 28.5 km (17.7 mi) of land borders—all figures including the United States territory at Guantánamo Bay, where the U.S. Navy's Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is located.

Cuba lies west of the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Gulf of Mexico, south of the Straits of Florida, northwest of the Windward Passage, and northeast of the Yucatán Channel. The main island (Cuba) makes up most of the land area 104,556 km2 (40,369 sq mi).The island is 1,250 km (780 mi) long and 191 km (119 mi) across its widest points and 31 km (19 mi) across its narrowest points. The largest island outside the main island is the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the southwest, with an area of 2,200 km2 (850 sq mi).

Geography of Florida

Much of the state of Florida is situated on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. Spanning two time zones, it extends to the northwest into a panhandle along the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the states of Georgia and Alabama, and on the west, at the end of the panhandle, by Alabama. It is near The Bahamas and several Caribbean countries, particularly Cuba. Florida has 131 public airports, and more than 700 private airports, airstrips, heliports, and seaplane bases. Florida is one of the largest states east of the Mississippi River, and only Alaska and Michigan are larger in water area.

Key West

Key West (Spanish: Cayo Hueso) is an island and city in the Straits of Florida on the North American continent. The city lies at the southernmost end of U.S. Route 1, the longest north-south road in the United States. Key West is the southernmost city in the contiguous United States and the westernmost island connected by highway in the Florida Keys. The island is about 4 miles (6.4 km) long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, with a total land mass of 4.2 square miles (11 km2). Duval Street, its main street, is 1.1 miles (1.8 km) in length in its 14-block-long crossing from the Gulf of Mexico to the Straits of Florida and the Atlantic Ocean. Key West is about 95 miles (153 km) north of Cuba at their closest points.The city is the county seat of Monroe County. The city boundaries include the island of Key West and all or part of several nearby islands: Sigsbee Park, Fleming Key, Sunset Key, and the northern part of Stock Island. The total land area of the city is 5.6 square miles (14.5 km2). Key West is the southern terminus of U.S. Route 1, State Road A1A, the East Coast Greenway and, before 1935, the Florida East Coast Railway.

Key West is 129 miles (208 km) southwest of Miami by air, about 160 miles (260 km) by car, and 106 miles (171 km) north-northeast of Havana. Key West is a port of call for many passenger cruise ships. The Key West International Airport provides airline service. Naval Air Station Key West is an important year round training site for naval aviation due to the tropical weather, which is also the reason Key West was chosen as the Winter White House of President Harry S. Truman. The central business district is located along Duval Street and includes much of the northwestern corner of the island. The official city motto is "One Human Family".

La Palma, Cuba

La Palma is a municipality and town in the Pinar del Río Province of Cuba. It is located in the northern part of the province, on the coast of the Straits of Florida, north of Consolación del Sur and north-east of Viñales.

Moser Channel

Moser Channel is the deepest passage spanned by the Seven Mile Bridge and is one of four predominant passages in the Florida Keys which allow exchange of waters to the north and west of the Keys (including Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico) with the Atlantic waters of Hawk Channel and the Florida Reef to the south and east. Moser Channel has an orientation perpendicular to the bridge. The other three Keys passages important to the exchange of south Florida coastal waters are Long Key Channel, Channel 5, and Channel 2.

Nicholas Channel

Nicholas Channel (also Saint Nicholas Channel; Spanish: Canal de Nicolas or Canal de San Nicolas) is a strait off the northeastern coast of Cuba. It lies 90 miles (140 km) east of Havana. It separates Cuba from the most southwestern of the islands of the Bahamas.

Part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered to the west by the Straits of Florida, to the north by the Cay Sal Bank and to the south by the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago off Cuba's north shore and to the east by the Old Bahama Channel.

Redfish Pass

Redfish Pass is a strait in Florida that connects Pine Island Sound with the Gulf of Mexico. It also separates Captiva Island on the south from North Captiva Island on the north. The pass was created by the hurricane of 1921 which divided the once larger Captiva Island. It is named after the many redfish caught in its channel soon after formation, and remains a popular sports fishing destination in Southwest Florida.

September 1948 Florida hurricane

The September 1948 Florida hurricane was the most intense tropical cyclone to make landfall in the state since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. The fourth hurricane and third major hurricane of the season, this storm developed from a tropical wave over the Caribbean Sea on September 18. Early the next day, the system strengthened into a hurricane while moving westward. Thereafter, it curved northwestward and continued to deepen. By September 20, the system turned northward and later that day made landfall in Zapata Peninsula, Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane on the modern day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. Another landfall occurred in Cuba early the next day to the south of Güines. Severe destruction was reported on the island, with winds up to 90 mph (140 km/h) observed in Havana. Over 700 buildings were destroyed. Ten deaths occurred and damage totaled at least $2 million (1948 USD), while other sources estimate "several million dollars."

After emerging into the Straits of Florida on September 21, the storm resumed intensification, before striking near Boca Chica Key, Florida with winds of 120 mph (195 km/h). By early on September 22, the system peaked as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h). Shortly thereafter, another landfall occurred near Chokoloskee, Florida at the same intensity. Severe damage was reported in the state due to strong winds. The storm was considered the worst in Key West since the 1919 Florida Keys hurricane. Throughout the state, 1,200 homes were severely damaged or destroyed, while 40 businesses were demolished and 237 suffered impact. Throughout Florida, there were three fatalities and approximately $12 million (1948 USD) in damage, over half of which was inflicted on crops. The storm rapidly weakened while crossing the state and emerged into the Atlantic Ocean as only a Category 1 hurricane later on September 22. Slight fluctuations in intensity occurred before the hurricane became extratropical early on September 24, while located northwest of Bermuda.

Tropical Depression One (1988)

Tropical Depression One was the wettest tropical cyclone in Cuba since Hurricane Flora of 1963. The first tropical cyclone of the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season, the system developed on May 30 from an area of disturbed weather in the northwestern Caribbean Sea. The tropical depression headed northeastward, making landfall in La Habana Province, Cuba, without intensifying. Crossing Cuba, the depression became very disorganized as it emerged into the Straits of Florida and degenerated into an open trough on June 2. Although only a tropical depression, the system flooded central and western Cuba with over 40 inches (1000 mm) of rain, causing 37 fatalities, damage to over 1,000 houses, and the evacuation of about 65,000 residents.

USS Lamar (PCE-899)

USS Lamar (PCE-899)/USCGC Lamar (WTR-899) was a PCE-842-class patrol craft acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II for the task of patrolling assigned ocean areas or protecting larger ships in convoy.

Yumurí River

The Yumurí is a river in Cuba, which drains into Bahia de Matanzas, an arm of the Straits of Florida in the historic provincial capital of Matanzas. The river begins in the village of Imias and winds its way through 54.2 km, including a steep 220 metre canyon with walls 200 m high.

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