The Gulf of Mexico offers some of the best recreational and commercial fishing in the entire world. With an abundance of shrimp, big game fish, fin fish, shark and oysters, the Gulf provides 40% of all fish harvested for the lower 48 states. It also offers some of the most beautiful coastal water in the United States.
In 2011, commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico fished 1.8 billion pounds of finfish and shellfish, worth $818 million. The majority of this revenue came from shrimp, totaling $438 million, and menhaden, totaling $104 million. The oysters in the Gulf provide 80% of the entire US supply while shellfish harvests are estimated to yield 1.3 billion pounds valued at $639 million every single year.
Though still taking the toll from the BP oil disaster, the oyster population is still one of the largest in the entire world. They contribute heavily to Gulf fishery production. In no particular order, other species abundant in the Gulf include Blue crab; crawfish; grouper; mullet; red snapper; stone crab; and tuna. This species variety is a heavy factor in the Gulf, porting four of the top seven fishing ports in the nation by weight and eight of the top twenty in the nation by dollar value.
Fishing isn’t the only draw to the Gulf. Bottlenose dolphin watching is a breathtaking experience as well, with numbers totaling up to 45,000 throughout the body of water. Sea turtles are also spectacular to observe off the Florida Gulf coast for the SCUBA diver or glass bottom enthusiast. The Gulf also boasts some of the cleanest beaches with the whitest sand in the country.
With the variety of sea life found throughout the Gulf of Mexico, commerce and tourist revenue remain sky-high throughout the region. The hundreds of thousands of different species inhabiting these waters also enjoy some of the warmest cleanest of American waters, excellent for beachgoers and divers alike.