Courtesy of Nancy Rabalais, Gulf of Mexico, Mexico.

In June 1998, the 23-year-old Susie Maroney of Australia completed a 38 hour 33 minute 197 km (122-mile) swim across the Yucatán Channel from Mexico to Cuba. She started on Isla Mujeres in Mexico and finished on Las Tumbas on the western end of Cuba as she swam protected in a shark cage with a jellyfish mesh net and a Lycra stinger suit.

The Yucatán Channel or Straits of Yucatán (Canal de Yucatán) is a 2,800m-deep strait between Mexico and Cuba that connects the Yucatán Basin of the Caribbean Sea with the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico (Golfo de México) that borders America’s southern states, Mexico and Cuba is referred to as the Third Coast or South Coast in comparison with America’s East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean and its West Coast along the Pacific Ocean.

The waters in which Maroney swam are changing.

Louisiana State University professor and ocean expert Nancy Rabalais tracks the ominously named dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where there isn’t enough oxygen in the water to support fish and crustaceans. Rabalais explains what is causing it and how its harmful effects can be reversed in her TED Talk above.

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