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THE Gulf Stream has always seemed to me to be one of the greatest phenomena of nature as well as one of its greatest blessings.

I have fished along its edge for many winters and it has never ceased to be of consuming mystery and interest.

The beauty of its waters so easily distinguishable from the surrounding sea, its incessant flow in the one direction, the curious plant and fish life that it brings from the tropics and the warmth and life-giving properties that it distributes so generously among the Keys of Florida always inspire me with wonder.

Most people have vague and strange ideas as to the cause of this ever-moving stream. They do not seem to know that the Gulf Stream gets its initial impetus from the joining of the north and south equatorial currents before rushing into the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Channel.

These currents, greatly accelerated by the trade winds, sweep across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west.

The Northern Current comes from the coast of Spain and crosses the ocean in about 15 degrees north latitude, passing through the Windward Islands north of Martinique.

The South Equatorial Current comes from Africa and flows westward just south of the equator until it reaches the coast of Brazil. Here it divides, one part going south to the River Plate, the other traveling northward, picking up the warm waters that flow from the Amazon and the Orinoco and turning westward just north of the Island of Trinidad where it joins forces with the Northern Equatorial current for the grand rush through the Yucatan Channel. Here it attains a velocity of from 1 to 3 knots.

The Yucatan Channel which divides Cuba from Yucatan, Mexico, is about one hundred miles wide and has a depth of 1,200 fathoms.

The first obstacle the stream encounters is the so-called Sigsbee Deep in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Here the water is 2,000 fathoms deep and being dense and cold it turns the current toward the Mexican coast. When it encounters the 100, fathom curve of the shore line, it circles first northward and then eastward toward the Straits of Florida.

The Straits of Florida are but little over ninety miles wide and have a depth of but 350 fathoms. Here the congestion of the waters forces the stream along at an increasing pace, carrying with it great quantities of gulf-weed brought from the islands of the Caribbean.

The maximum speed of the Gulf Stream is nearly 4 knots.

Turning northward it receives a fresh impetus by plunging into deep water over the natural dam of Fowey Rocks at the northern end of the Florida Reef.

There is a counter-current in shore which causes much silting and the shifting of the beaches along the gulf coast and also along the east coast of Florida.

Off Cape Carnaveral the stream is forty miles off shore and thirty miles wide. The Gulf Stream follows the 100 fathom contour line of the coast until it reaches Cape Hatteras, where meeting the so-called Cold Wall or Labrador Current it turns almost due east.

As it passes New York it is about one hundred and twenty miles off shore, more or less according to the prevalence of westerly or easterly gales.

The Gulf Stream retains its identity until it reaches a point two hundred miles south-southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, where it divides into two currents.

The Northeast Current or Drift flows toward the British Isles. The other half, the East Current, travels to the Bay of Biscay where it turns northward and, known as the Runnell Current, tempers the waters of the Channel Islands off the Coast of France. 


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