The Gulf Loop is a strong current in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. It can be a short loop (Step 1), or stretched very long (Step 2). When it is long, it often pinches off a spinning body of water called an eddy (Step 3). These eddies drift westward over many weeks (Step 4). They slowly lose energy in the western Gulf. This cycle repeats itself several times a year. Image courtesy of Gulf of Mexico 2002, NOAA/OER.