Because of agreements between Cuba and Mexico, and because of increased vigilance on the beaches of South Florida by the US Department of Homeland Security, the number of Cubans abandoning the island through the Florida Straits and the Yucatan Channel
for Mexico began to decline in 2008 after increasing since 2001.
A long-standing hypothesis is that the variation of the LC penetration into the Gulf and its ring detachment are caused by the variation in the rate of inflow through the Yucatan Channel. On the contrary, a numerical study (Hurlburt and Thompson, 1980) has shown that these phenomena can be reproduced in numerical experiments without time variations in the inflow.
The sensitivity of the GM to variations of heat forcing through the Yucatan Channel was studied by Skiba and Adem (1995).
2) The flow field in the previously reported laboratory experiments was generated by the water pump located in the Yucatan Channel. Observations in the real strait indicate the existence of a current-counter-current system (Emilson, 1971).
It is known that the Florida Strait is 80 miles wide and the Yucatan Channel is 84 miles wide.
At the initial stages, an unsteady regime of circulation was observed in the Gulf in a form of a mushroom current through the Yucatan Channel. As the experiments progressed, this mushroom current transformed itself into a steady meander of the LC flowing out through the Florida Strait, and a general anticyclonic flow pattern in the western Gulf.
There is a northward flow of watermasses, with a counter-current of less intensity near the coast (Merino and Otero 1991), joining the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Channel. The continental shelf is narrow, sandy and varies from 2 to 7 kms from the coastline.
Its high capture within the lagoon may be explained by the very narrow continental shelf in the area, the strong water mixing processes as a result of the Yucatan Stream passing through the Yucatan channel and the coastal counter-current along the Mexican Caribbean sea (Merino 1986).