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OFF TO THE CARIBBEAN

The Caribbean Sea

In October 2011, Livorno Aquarium opened its doors to the Caribbean Sea with a new display tank dedicated to the beauties hosted by its waters and the colourful species that live in them.

 

The tank has a volume of 60 mc, and its water has a temperature of about 25°C.

 

It is located immediately after the Indo-Pacific tank, and reproduces the environment of the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea, one of the world’s richest ecosystems, comparable in its variety of species and biodiversity only to the tropical rainforests. Although it occupies only 0.3% of the total area of our planet’s sea and ocean surfaces, these reefs host over 25% of all marine species.

 

 

 

Specimens to be admired in the tank include the Green Moray (Gymnothorax funebris), the Honeycomb Moray (Muraena melanotis), the Lookdown (Selene vomer), the Queen Triggerfish (Balistes vetula), the Doctorfish (Acanthurus chirurgus) and the Atlantic Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber).

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Geology

The Caribbean Sea is situated on the Caribbean Plate. It is estimated to be between 160 and 180 million years old, and was formed by a horizontal fracture that divided the supercontinent called Pangea during the Mesozoic era.

 

 

The surface of the Caribbean Sea is divided into five basins, separated by a series of underwater mountain chains. The pressure of the South American Plate in the eastern regions of the Caribbean has created an area of intense volcanic activity in the Lesser Antilles archipelago, where the eruption in 1902 of Mount Pelée caused more deaths than any other volcanic disaster of the twentieth century, killing about 30,000 people.

 

The Atlantic Ocean is linked to the Caribbean Sea by the Anegada Passage - between the Lesser Antilles and the British Virgin Islands - and the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. The Yucatán Channel links the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico, between the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and Cuba.

 

The sea’s deepest point is the Cayman Trough, which stretches down to 7.686 metres beneath sea level.

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Oceanography

The average salinity of the Caribbean Sea is 35–36%, its surface temperature is around 28°C, and on the seabed the temperature is about 4°C.

 

The currents of the Caribbean carry great quantities of water from the eastern Atlantic Ocean past the Lesser Antilles, and then north-westwards and out of the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatán Channel.

 

 

 

On average between 15% and 20% of the freshwater entering the Caribbean comes from the estuary of the Orinoco and the rivers of Amazonia, carried north-westwards by the Caribbean currents.

 

 

In the area stretching from northern Colombia towards Nicaragua, almost throughout the whole year there is a circular current that rotates in an anticlockwise direction. This current is generated by the abundant rainfall in the region, which can also reduce the temperature and density of the water, supplying nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, beneficial for plant growth.

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