Strait of Gibraltar – September 16th, 2008
The Strait of Gibraltar (Arabic: مضيق جبل طارق, Spanish: Estrecho de Gibraltar) is the strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from Morocco. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq (جبل طارق) meaning mountain of Tariq. It refers to the Ummayad Berber general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the Islamic conquest of Hispania in 711. It is also known as the Straits of Gibraltar or STROG (Strait Of Gibraltar), the latter being in naval use.
There are 13 km (8 miles) of ocean separating Europe from Africa at the strait’s narrowest point. The strait depth ranges between 300 and 900 metres (980 and 3,000 ft). A ferry commutes between the two continents. The Spanish part of the strait is protected under the El Estrecho Natural Park.
About 6 million years ago, the Strait closed, effectively turning the Mediterranean into a huge salty lake that eventually dried up, in what is known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis. At the Miocene/Pliocene boundary, approximately 5.33 million years ago, the Strait opened up for the last time, and has remained open since.