The Gulf of Mexico: An Overview




McKinney, Larry D.
Shepherd, John G.
Wilson, Charles A.
Hogarth, William T.
Chanton, Jeff
Murawski, Steven A.
Sandifer, Paul A.
Sutton, Tracey
Yoskowitz, David W.
Wowk, Katya


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The Gulf of Mexico is a place where the environment and the economy both coexist and contend. It is a resilient large marine ecosystem that has changed in response to many drivers and pressures that we are only now beginning to fully understand. Coastlines of the states that border the Gulf comprise about half of the US southern seaboard, and those states are capped by the vast Midwest. The Gulf drains most of North America and is both an economic keystone and an unintended waste receptacle. It is a renowned resource for seafood markets, recreational fishing, and beach destinations and an international maritime highway fueled by vast, but limited, hydrocarbon reserves. Today, more is known about the Gulf than was imagined possible only a few years ago. That gain in knowledge was driven by one of the greatest environmental disasters of this country’s history, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The multitude of response actions and subsequent funded research significantly contributed to expanding our knowledge and, perhaps most importantly, to guiding the work needed to restore the damage from that oil spill. Funding for further work should not wait for the next major disaster, which will be too late; progress must be maintained to ensure that the Gulf continues to be resilient.



Gulf of Mexico




McKinney, L.D., J.G. Shepherd, C.A. Wilson, W.T. Hogarth, J. Chanton, S.A. Murawski, P.A. Sandifer, T. Sutton, D. Yoskowitz, K. Wowk, T.M. Özgökmen, S.B. Joye, and R. Caffey. 2021. The Gulf of Mexico: An overview. Oceanography 34(1):30–43,