Inside the
Loop Current
If the boundary for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico moves within 125 miles of Florida (shown in dark green in the image below), a broad segment of the state's coastal beaches would be at risk for pollution, oceanographers say.

Oil and gas rigs in that part of the eastern gulf would be affected by the powerful Loop Current, which circulates warm water from the Caribbean Sea up toward Louisiana, then sweeps it down through the Straits of Florida, around the Keys and up the Atlantic coast to join the Gulf Stream (the swirls shown in yellow and red).

Pollution from the rigs that settles into the Loop Current would flow south and coat the Florida Keys, then be pushed north and wreak further havoc along the state's Atlantic coast.

"It could affect the beaches and reefs all the way up the East Coast," said Robert Weisberg, an oceanography professor at the University of South Florida who has spent years studying the gulf.

Photos courtesy NAVO Major Shared Resource Center Video Production Studio Located at the Naval Oceanographic Office, Stennis Space Center, MS
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