WORLD SEAFARERS’ DAY: THE STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR

TO ALL OUR GREAT SEAFARERS OUT THERE…
Happy Seafarers Day!!!
It is the 25th June, a day recognized as International Day of the Seafarer. How wonderful it will be to explore the world from the eyes of a seafarer!





WHO IS A SEAFARER?
In case you are wondering who seafarers are, they are people who navigate or assist in navigating a ship. Some other tags they go by are mariners, sailors, seamen, etc.

According to the Dannish Maritime Authority, seafarers are, inter alia, persons who have been employed by a ship owner to do ship service on board a ship at sea, i.e. work performed by persons taking part in the ships operation and maintenance. What this means is that other persons on board the ship who are not covered by are not seafarers but passengers.

A Nigerian seafarer in a vessel moving on the Strait of Gibraltar

Arguably, seafarers are the focal point of the world’s economy. They leave the comforts of their homes loved ones and families to do things that positively affect the global economical space. Without seafarers, the global economy could crumble.

Apart from the homesickness that comes with the job, there is a popular saying among seafarers that “it is rewarding to master the sea trade”.

This reward, among other things, include a good remuneration and of course, an opportunity to explore the world. Today, with seafarers, we are exploring the Strait of Gibraltar, a place that connects two oceans while also separating two continents.

NATURAL BOUNDARY DEMARCATION
As we probably already know, to demarcate two places, there must be something stationed to serve as the boundary demarcating mark. We may know some pathways, stakes, and particular kinds of plants or other boundary demarcation procedures obtainable in our different cultures (you should leave a comment about this below). We also know that some demarcations happen with the help of natural monuments or landmarks. The strait of Gibraltar is one of such natural occurrence also serving as a boundary demarcator.

WHAT IS A STRAIT?
A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water.

Most commonly, it is a channel of water that lies between two land masses. Some straits are not navigable, for example, because they are too shallow or because of an unnavigable reef.

THE STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR

The Strait of Gibraltar as viewed from space

The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It equally separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The two continents are separated by 14.3 kilometres (8.9 miles; 7.7 nautical miles) of ocean at the strait’s narrow point. The strait’s depth ranges between 300 and 900 metres (980 and 2,950 feet), which possibly interacted with the lower sea level of the last major glaciation 20,000 years ago, when the sea level is believed to have become lower by 110 to 120 metres (360 to 390 feet). The Strait of Gibraltar is very navigable. Ferries and sea vessels cross between the two continents everyday in about 30 minutes.

An international sea vessel passing through the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain

The Etymology and Names of the Strait of Gibraltar
The name is from the Rock of Gibraltar, a seemingly religious name whose origin is believed to be from the Arabic Jabal Ṭariq (meaning “Tariq’s Mount”) named after Tariq ibn Ziyad. Other names of the strait are: The Straits of Gibraltar, Estreco de Gibraltar of Spanish use, the STROG (STRait Of Gibraltar) of naval use, Gate of Morocco or Gate of the West, the Gut of Gibraltar (though mostly archaic). Of another archaic use is the name, Pillars of Hercules.

The Location of the Strait of Gibraltar
On the northern side of the Strait are Spain and Gibraltar (a British overseas territory in the Iberian Peninsula) while on the southern side are Morocco and Ceuta (a Spanish autonomous city in northern Africa).

The Extent of the Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait is defined by the International Hydrographic Organization as seen below:
On the West, a line joining Cape Trafalgar to Cape Spartel
On the East, the Strait is a line joining Europa Point to P. Almina.

Geological Information about the Atlantic – Salty Mediterranean Basins
Around 5.9 million years ago, the connection between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean was restricted and eventually closed. This made the salinity of the Mediterranean Sea to increase.

During this time, dissolved mineral concentrations, temperature and stilled water current combined and occurred regularly to precipitate many mineral salts in layers on the Strait’s seabed which as a matter of fact, is composed of clayey flysch covered by calcareous sediments, sourced from thriving cold water coral communities.

The Strait’s seabed

It is estimated that if the strait closed even at today’s high sea level, most water in the Mediterranean basin will evaporate only within a thousand years and this will bring the salty mineral deposits of the Mediterranean Sea to bear.

After a lengthy period of restricted or no water exchange between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the connection was reestablished through the Strait of Gibraltar by the Zanclean Flood and has remained open ever since. The erosion produced during this flood is what seems to account for the depth of the strait (300 and 900 metres; 980 and 2,950 feet).

On a geological timescale, the strait is expected to close again as the African Plate moves northward relative the Eurasian Plate.

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