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The Gulf of Mexico loop current brings warm Caribbean water northward between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba and into the Gulf. The current loops around the Gulf, flows southeastward into the Florida Strait where it serves as a parent to the Florida current and ultimately joins the Gulf Stream.

The loop current is one of the fastest currents in the Atlantic, traveling at speeds of approximately 0.8 m/s, and is typically about 800 m deep. The extent of the loop current's intrusion into the Gulf varies with eddies frequently breaking off when the current stretches far into the Gulf.