Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, contains an astonishing amount of pristine marine environments.
It has 1,500 miles of coastline, 40% longer than Florida’s 1,197 miles. The island national also houses the largest protected biosphere in the Caribbean. The Caribbean as a whole contains the greatest concentration of marine species in the Atlantic Ocean and is a vital part of earth’s marine biodiversity.
The Caribbean Sea is a semienclosed basin of the western Atlantic Ocean, bounded by the coasts of Central and South America on two sides and by the Antilles island chain on the other two. It has an area of about 1,063,325 square miles, over 8,388 miles of coastline, and is home to 26 countries as well as 19 dependent territories of France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Toward the east and northeast, the closely spaced chain of islands, banks, and sills of the Antilles Islands arc separates the Caribbean from the Atlantic Ocean and acts as a sieve for the inflow of Atlantic water, whereas toward the northwest the Caribbean is linked to the Gulf of Mexico by the Yucatan Channel.
The Caribbean seafloor is divided into five basins (Grenada, Venezuela, Colombia, and Yucatan Basins and the Cayman Trough) separated from each other by underwater ridges and sills. Half of the waters in the Caribbean are deeper than 11,811 feet , and 75% are deeper than 5,905 feet. The average seafloor depth is about 7,874 feet, while the Cayman Trough, between Cuba and Jamaica, reaches more than 24,606 feet.
Volcanic activity and earthquakes are common in the Caribbean, as are destructive hurricanes, most of which originate in the central Atlantic.