The Gulf of Aden (Arabic: خليج عدن; Somali: Gacanka Cadmeed) is a deepwater gulf of the Indian Ocean between Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea to the east, Djibouti to the west, and the Guardafui Channel, Socotra and Somalia to the south.[2] In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, and it connects with the Arabian Sea to the east. To the west, it narrows into the Gulf of Tadjoura in Djibouti. The Aden Ridge lies along the middle of the Gulf and is causing it to widen about 15mm per year.

Gulf of Aden
The Gulf of Aden, as viewed from space (top) and on a map (bottom)
LocationEast Africa and West Asia
Coordinates12°N 48°E / 12°N 48°E / 12; 48
Basin countries
Surface area410,000 km2 (160,000 sq mi)[dubious ]
Average depth500 m (1,600 ft)
Max. depth2,700 m (8,900 ft)
Max. temperature28 °C (82 °F)
Min. temperature15 °C (59 °F)
SettlementsAden, Mukalla, Balhaf, Berbera, Bulhar, Maydh, Djibouti, Zeila, Las Khorey, Bosaso

The ancient Greeks regarded the gulf as one of the most important parts of the Erythraean Sea. It later came to be dominated by Muslims, as the area around the gulf converted to Islam. From the late 1960s onwards, there started to be an increased Soviet naval presence in the Gulf. The importance of the Gulf of Aden declined when the Suez Canal was closed, but it was revitalized when the canal was reopened in 1975, after being deepened and widened by the Egyptian government.

The waterway is part of the important Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean, with 21,000 ships crossing the gulf annually.[3] This route is often used for the delivery of Persian Gulf oil, making the gulf an integral waterway in the world economy.[4][5] Important cities along the Gulf of Aden include the namesake Aden in Yemen. Other Yemeni cities are Zinjibar, Shuqrah, Ahwar, Balhaf, Mukalla. On the Horn African side, the cities of Djibouti, Berbera and Bosaso.

Despite a lack of large-scale commercial fishing facilities, the coastline supports many isolated fishing towns and villages. The Gulf of Aden is richly supplied with fish, turtles, and lobsters.[6] Local fishing takes place close to the shore; sardines, tuna, kingfish, and mackerel make up the bulk of the annual catches. Crayfish and sharks are also fished locally.

Historical Names edit

Ibn Majid referring to the Gulf as the Gulf of Berbera

In antiquity, the modern-day Gulf of Aden was seen as an extension of the Erythraean Sea (Red Sea) Greek: Ἐρυθρὰ Θάλασσα, Erythrà Thálassa in Ancient Greek geography. The Greeks named several islands within the gulf, including Stratonis Insula, although it is no longer clear which existing islands had which Greek names.[7][8]

In Abu'l-Fida's, A Sketch of the Countries (Arabic: تقويم البلدان), the present-day Gulf of Aden was called the Gulf of Berbera, which shows how important Berbera was in both regional and international trade during the medieval period.[9][10]

Legendary navigator Ibn Majid referred to the Gulf of Aden as the Gulf of Berbera in his 15th century magnum opus The Book of the Benefits of the Principles and Foundations of Seamanship. In his description of the Somali coast and wider Indian Ocean he used the then contemporary reference to the Gulf as being named after Berbera like Abu'l-Fida before him.[11] Berbera has been a prominent port since antiquity[12]

Geography edit

Limits edit

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Gulf of Aden as follows:[13]

On the west – The southern limit of the Red Sea [A line joining Hisn Murad (12°40′N 43°30′E / 12.667°N 43.500°E / 12.667; 43.500) and Ras Siyyan (12°29′N 43°20′E / 12.483°N 43.333°E / 12.483; 43.333)].
On the west – The eastern limit of the Gulf of Tadjoura (A line joining Obock and Lawyacado).
On the East – The Arabian Sea.

Hydrography edit

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,[14] while the oxygen content in the Gulf of Aden at the same depth is typically between 4.0 and 5.0 mg/L.[14]

Exclusive economic zone edit

Exclusive economic zones in Gulf of Aden:[15][16][17][18]

Number Country Area (Km2)
1   Yemen 509,240
2   Somalia 831,059
3   Djibouti 7,037
Total Gulf of Aden 1,347,336

Economy edit

A dhow in the Gulf of Aden

The Gulf of Aden is a vital waterway for shipping, especially for Persian Gulf oil, making it an integral waterway in the world economy.[4] 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.[5] The main ports along the gulf are Aden, Balhaf, Bir Ali, Mukalla, and Shokra in Yemen; Djibouti City in Djibouti; Zeila, Berbera 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 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 Awsan I 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 migrations 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.[19] India receives US$50 billion in imports and sends US$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.[20]

Ecology edit

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.[21] Whales, dolphins, and dugongs[22] were once common[23] before being severely reduced by commercial hunts, including by mass illegal hunts by Soviet Union and Japan in 1960s to 70s.[24] Critically endangered Arabian humpback whales were once seen in large numbers,[25] but only a few large whales still appear in the gulf waters, including Bryde's whales,[26] blue whales,[27] and toothed whales inhabiting deep-seas such as sperm whales[28] and tropical bottlenose whales.[29]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Michael Hodd, East Africa Handbook, 7th Edition, (Passport Books: 2002), p. 21: "To the north are the countries of the Horn of Africa comprising Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea,and Djibouti, "
  2. ^ Lytle, Ephraim. "Early Greek and Latin Sources on the Indian Ocean and Eastern Africa." Early Exchange between Africa and the Wider Indian Ocean World. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2016. 113-134.
  3. ^ "Pirates fire on US cruise ship in hijack attempt: Yahoo! News". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  4. ^ a b "Earth from Space: The Gulf of Aden – the gateway to Persian oil". European Space Agency. 2005-03-01. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
  5. ^ a b "Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden" (PDF). International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF). 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
  6. ^ "Aden, Gulf of |". Archived from the original on 2019-10-26. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  7. ^ Smith, William (editor); Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, "Stratonis Insula" Archived 2024-05-22 at the Wayback Machine, London, (1854)
  8. ^ "LacusCurtius • Strabo's Geography — Book XVI Chapter 4". Archived from the original on 2021-06-12. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  9. ^ Identifiants et Référentiels Sudoc Pour L'Enseignement Supérieur et la Recherche - Abū al-Fidā (1273-1331) Archived 2023-04-20 at the Wayback Machine (in French)
  10. ^ Lewicki, Tadeusz (1974). Arabic External Sources for the History of Africa to the South of Sahara. Curzon Press. p. 33.
  11. ^ Ibn Majid, Ahmad. الفوائد في أصول علم البحر والقواعد (in Arabic). p. 129.
  12. ^ "Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Schoff's 1912 translation". Archived from the original on 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  13. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Hydrographic Survey Results". Report on Cruise No. 3 of R/V "Dr. Fridtjof Nansen." - Indian Ocean Fishery and Development Programme - Pelagic Fish Assessment Survey North Arabian Sea. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 1975. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  15. ^ "Sea Around Us | Fisheries, Ecosystems and Biodiversity". Archived from the original on 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  16. ^ "Sea Around Us | Fisheries, Ecosystems and Biodiversity". Archived from the original on 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  17. ^ "Sea Around Us | Fisheries, Ecosystems and Biodiversity". Archived from the original on 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  18. ^ "Sea Around Us | Fisheries, Ecosystems and Biodiversity". Archived from the original on 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  19. ^ Arnsdorf, Isaac (22 July 2013). "West Africa Pirates Seen Threatening Oil and Shipping". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  20. ^ Gokhale, Nitin (2011). "India Takes Fight to Pirates". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  21. ^ "Red Sea & Gulf of Aden". United Nations Environment Programme. 2005. Archived from the original on 2005-07-01. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
  22. ^ Nasr D.. Dugongs in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Archived 2015-11-27 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Hoath R.. 2009. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt Archived 2023-04-28 at the Wayback Machine. pp.112. The American University in Cairo Press. Retrieved on February 26. 2016
  24. ^ Jackson J.. 2006. Diving with Giants[permanent dead link]. p.59. New Holland Publishers Ltd. Retrieved on December 17. 2014
  25. ^ Yuri A. Mikhalev (1997). "Humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae in the Arabian Sea" (PDF). Marine Ecology Progress Series. 149: 13. Bibcode:1997MEPS..149...13M. doi:10.3354/meps149013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-08-06. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  26. ^ "PBS - The Voyage of the Odyssey - Track the Voyage - MALDIVES". Archived from the original on 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  27. ^ "Cetaceans in the Indian Ocean Sanctuary: A Review : A WDCS Science report" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Yemen". Archived from the original on 2016-03-07. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  29. ^ Anderson, R. C.; Clark, R.; Madsen, P. T.; Johnson, C.; Kiszka, J.; Breysse, O. (2006). "Observations of Longman's Beaked Whale (Indopacetus pacificus) in the Western Indian Ocean". Aquatic Mammals. 32 (2): 223–231. doi:10.1578/AM.32.2.2006.223.

Further reading edit

External links edit