The Florida Current is a strong oceanic current flowing northward along the eastern coast of Florida carrying warm tropical waters that eventually feed the Gulf Stream

infrared image of ocean currents near Florida

Originating in the South Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, the Florida Current is formed when the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current and the Yucatan Current come together. This strong surface current carries warm water from the Caribbean and is the primary reason for the corals reefs and marine life that we see in the Florida Keys.

The Florida Current comes closest to the upper Florida Keys, but is further offshore near Key West. These differences in the proximity of the Florida Current to the Florida Keys seascape result in complex circulation patterns on the south Florida shelf.

For example, the outer edge of the Loop Current often spawns large circular currents called “eddies.” These eddies move into the Florida Straits, and are trapped between the Florida Current to the south and the Dry Tortugas to the north for an average of 50-140 days before being pushed along by the arrival of the next gyre. These gyres potentially help in transporting nutrients and larvae between the Loop Current and the Florida Keys.


Did You Know?

The Gulf Stream is like a giant thermostat for the Florida Keys waters. It supplies the Atlantic side of the Keys with a constant flow of tropical waters that can support complex coral reef communities.