Great Gulf Of Sidra Facts That You'll Absolutely Adore

Supriya Jain
Mar 20, 2023 By Supriya Jain
Originally Published on Mar 20, 2023
Edited by Archita Chaplot
Fact-checked by Prakriti Sinha
Sun set view.

The Gulf Of Sidra got its name from the US military due to the presence of the oil port of Sidra Gulf on the shores.

Apart from its rich marine life, the historic bay is also known for questioning the International Law of the Sea Convention. This gave rise to the question of whether the Soviet Union acknowledged the International Law of the Sea Convention.

Did you know that Sidra Gulf was also known as Great Sirte?

Read on to learn more about the incident related to the Libyan aircraft, which led to disputes related to the territorial sea.

The Gulf Of Sidra Incident

The Gulf of Sidra incident first took place in 1981. There were, however, subsequent events that took place in 1986 and 1989. Hence, the 1981 incident became known as the first Gulf of Sidra Incident.

The incident started in 1973 when the then-leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, declared an extended area of the Gulf of Sidra, going to 377 ft as the property of Libya. He declared that this water body belonged to Libya, and Libyans had the sole fishing rights here.

The internationally consented limit for The Gulf of Sidra belonging solely to Libya was 12 mi (19.2 km).

Things had started to heat up with the rise of American president Ronald Raegan to power, and things began to pick a faster pace. America and the US military launched Freedom of navigation operation to claim back international waters which were occupied by the Libyans 'illegally'.

Gaddafi created a straight line between Benghazi and the Gulf of Misrata to form the 377 ft exclusive fishing zone and claimed it within the territory of Libya as its internal waters. He then referred to this line as the 'Line of Death'.

Between 1973 and 1981, several small confrontations occurred between the American troops scanning the area and the Libyan troops. Things started to get extremely serious in August 1981 when many fighter planes, naval ships, and fighter bombers were deployed from both sides.

Attacks were made by Libya during US naval exercises. During the final confrontation in this incident, two US F-14 tomcats shot down two Libyan aircraft, Su-22 Fitters, destroying both aircraft and killing one pilot.

The Law Of The Sea And Climate Change

The Law of the Sea is governed and represented by the United Nations Convention on the Law of The Sea (UNCLOS).

Water bodies cover the majority of the Earth’s surface. They also contain a lot of natural resources which are necessary for human existence. However, since the ’80s, global warming has continually risen and even done a lot of irreparable damage to our climate.

Even though 70% of the earth is made of water, climate change has directly resulted in water shortages. This is because the majority of this water is not used for human consumption. It cannot be used for drinking, in our crops, or for other purposes.

The rise in sea levels due to global warming has harmful impacts on human life and even massively affects marine life.

Effects Of Climate Change

The effects of Climate change can be seen all across the globe, and The Gulf of Sidra or the Gulf of Sirte does not remain unaffected. In fact, with fishing being the major trade here, this region becomes even more vulnerable to the changes.

Libya and the Sidra Gulf are already facing water shortages. The lack of rainfall and abundance of Deserts makes it incredibly difficult for people to find potable water in this region.

Climate change has directly resulted in the lack of rainfall. As per reports, the average rainfall in this region has fallen from 12% to 6% and is projected to fall further.

This lack of water will not only affect the potable water supply which people can use for drinking and cooking, but it will even affect the country’s agriculture. When there is a water shortage, lads become barren, and there is not enough food to be produced.

The weather variations occurring in the region can also be attributed to causing drastically harmful water shortages.

Sidra Gulf has been witness to many conflicts over the years.

2011 Libyan Civil War

The Libyan Civil War of 2011, also known as the First Libyan Civil War, was a conflict within the African country of Libya. Muammar Gaddafi was in power at the time. Pro-Gaddafi and Anti-Gaddafi forces had formed, and the conflict to overthrow the Gaddafi Regime had started.

The Anti-Gaddafi rebels aimed to take over the towns and cities that Gaddafi around The Gulf of Sidra was controlling. The conflict came to an end when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his son Mutassim Gaddafi along with the then-defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr were killed, and the pro-Gaddafi residents backed off.

The whole duration of Gaddafi’s regime was filled with various international declarations and incidents around The Gulf of Sidra. Starting after the Coup d'etat in 1969 (much after the end of World War II), Muammar Gaddafi rose to power as the leader of Libya.

The Civil war started in March 2011 and ended in October 2011 in the Battle of Sirte. The war erupted in February 2011 with the Libyan Revolution.

The Anti-Gaddafi groups had even created a National Transitional Council, which was a de facto interim body created to govern the people. This was done in reaction to massive nationwide protests against Gaddafi in which the government bodies had opened fire upon the protestors.

This incident also led the United Nations Security Council and International Criminal Court to restrict Gaddafi’s travel and freeze his assets.

Even after the civil war ended, small acts of rebellion and insurgency by the Gaddafi loyalists armed forces continued in the country, especially in certain parts. All these little events led to the second civil war, which started in 2014.

Gulf Of Sidra Marine Life

The Gulf of Sidra, an extremely diverse coastline in the northern part of Libya, is known for having vibrant marine life. Fishing is extremely important in this region, and a wide array of fish can be found in this region.

Here are some Gulf of Sidra facts regarding its territorial waters, high seas, and marine life. Sea Bass, Tuna, Hake, Luna, and Groper are the most commonly found fishes in this region.

Common Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins are also commonly found in this region along with certain types of Whales, including Orcas, popularly known as Killer Whale and Sperm Whales. Sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins can be found in abundance.

You can even find some species of rays, including Maltese Ray and Giant Devi Ray.

Sharks are another common sight in this region, with Shortfin Mako Shark and Porbeagle Sharks being the most common kind.

Loggerhead Turtles are the most commonly found type of turtle in the region, although other species can also be seen.

The Gulf has a maximum width of 273 mi (439 km) and a maximum length of 110 mi (177 km).

The Gulf of Sidra’s marine life is perhaps one of the main reasons for so many incidents, which makes it unsurprising that the marine life here is in danger of overfishing. Another trouble that commonly occurs here is when the fishermen accidentally catch the wrong kind of fish (called bycatch), causing unforeseen loss of marine life.

Due to the massive endangerment of several marine species, steps are being taken by conservationists to restore the balance by saving marine life in The Gulf of Sidra. The creation of Protected zones is one of the methods being employed to ensure proper fishing practices.

This is also being done because several surveys conducted in the region have reflected that the region of the Gulf of Libya is extremely suitable for the cultivation of various marine species like seabirds, seagrass, loggerhead turtle, and common dolphins.

The rich biodiversity of this region needs protection, for which several efforts are being taken by local residents as well as some international conservation organizations. Located in the Mediterranean Sea, in the northern part of the coast of Libya in The Gulf of Sidra, also known as the Gulf of Sirte.

The Gulf of Sidra was also known as the oil port of Sidra. It has also historically been called the Great Sirte or the Greater Syrtis, as it is also said to have been named after the city of Sirte.

Historically, The Gulf of Sidra, which is a coastal state in Libya, has been known widely as one of the top hotspots in the region for tuna fishing. This ancient city has even been referred to in the bible and has somewhat of a troubled recent past owing to some unforgettable wars.

The Gulf of Sidra goes by many names. It is called Khalij Surt in Arabic and Golfo De La Sirte in Italian.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Sirte has been mentioned as the place where the Apostle Paul was sent for his trial before the Roman emperor Nero.

In recent human history, The Gulf of Sidra has witnessed many battles since World War II. Two major battles from which The Gulf of Sidra got highlighted in the whole world were the 1981 Gulf of Sidra Incident and the 2011 second Gulf of Sidra offensive, which took place in the middle of the Libyan Civil War.

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Written by Supriya Jain

Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Supriya Jain picture

Supriya JainBachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.

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Fact-checked by Prakriti Sinha

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Business Mangement

Prakriti Sinha picture

Prakriti SinhaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Business Mangement

Prakriti is a content fact checker at Kidadl while completing her Bachelor's in Business Administration from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. She has achieved impressive feats, such as ranking 155 in her state with a 95% in the 11th International Commerce Olympiad by Commerce Teachers Foundation (2020) and securing second place in the Inter-school Bizgeist competition held by Cambridge. Prakriti has previously worked as a content writer, researching and writing articles on various topics.

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