Gulf of Aden
The Gulf of Aden, formerly known as the Gulf of Berbera, is a gulf amidst Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea and Guardafui Channel to the east, Somalia to the south, and Djibouti to the west. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, and in the southeast, it connects with the Indian Ocean through the Guardafui Channel.
|Gulf of Aden|
Map of the Gulf of Aden
|Average depth||500 m (1,600 ft)|
|Max. depth||2,700 m (8,900 ft)|
|Max. temperature||28 °C (82 °F)|
|Min. temperature||15 °C (59 °F)|
- On the East – The meridian of Cape Guardafui (Ras Asir, 51°16'E).
The temperature of the Gulf of Aden varies between 15 °C (59 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F), depending on the season and the appearance of monsoons. The salinity of the gulf at 10 metres (33 ft) depth varies from 35.3 ‰ along the eastern Somali coast to as high as 37.3 ‰ in the gulf's center, while the oxygen content in the Gulf of Aden at the same depth is typically between 4.0 and 5.0 mg/L.
The Gulf of Aden is a vital waterway for shipping, especially for Persian Gulf oil, making it an integral waterway in the world economy. Approximately 11% of the world's seaborne petroleum passes through the Gulf of Aden on its way to the Suez Canal or to regional refineries. The main ports along the gulf are Aden, Balhaf, Bir Ali, Mukalla, and Shokra in Yemen; Djibouti City in Djibouti; Zeila, Berbera, Maydh, and Las Khorey in Somaliland; and Bosaso in Somalia.
In antiquity, the gulf was a thriving area of international trade between Ptolemaic Egypt and Rome in the west and Classical India, its Indonesian colonies, and Han China in the east. It was not limited to transshipment, as Yemeni and Somali incense, tortoiseshell, and other goods were in high demand in both directions. After Egyptian sailors discovered the monsoon winds and began to trade directly with India, caravan routes and their associated kingdoms began to collapse, leading to a rise in piracy in the area. The 1st-century Periplus of the Erythraean Sea documents one Egyptian captain's experiences during this era.
After the collapse of the Roman economy, direct trade ceased but the Awsani port Crater, located just south of the modern city of Aden, remained an important regional center. In late antiquity and the early medieval period, there were several invasions of Yemen from Ethiopia; after the rise of Islam, the gulf permitted repeated invasions of northwest Africa by Arab settlers.
In the late 2000s, the gulf evolved into a hub of pirate activity. By 2013, attacks in the waters had steadily declined due to active private security and international navy patrols. India receives USD 50 billion in imports and sends USD 60 billion in exports through this area annually. Due to this, and for the sake of protecting the trade of other countries, India keeps a warship escort in this area.
A geologically young body of water, the Gulf of Aden has a unique biodiversity that contains many varieties of fish, coral, seabirds and invertebrates. This rich ecological diversity has benefited from a relative lack of pollution during the history of human habitation around the gulf. However, environmental groups fear that the lack of a coordinated effort to control pollution may jeopardize the gulf's ecosphere. Whales, dolphins, and dugongs were once common before being severely reduced by commercial hunts, including by mass illegal hunts by Soviet Union and Japan in 1960s to 70s. Critically endangered Arabian humpback whales were once seen in large numbers, but only a few large whales still appear in the gulf waters, including Bryde's whales, blue whales, and toothed whales inhabiting deep-seas such as sperm whales and tropical bottlenose whales.
- Erythraean Sea, ancient name of the Gulf
- Maritime Security Patrol Area
- International fleet of vessels in the Gulf of Aden
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