We construct a Markov-chain representation of the surface-ocean Lagrangian dynamics in a region occupied by the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and adjacent portions of the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic using satellite-tracked drifter trajectory data, the largest collection so far considered. From the analysis of the eigenvectors of the transition matrix associated with the chain, we identify almost-invariant attracting sets and their basins of attraction. With this information we decompose the GoM's geography into weakly dynamically interacting provinces, which constrain the connectivity between distant locations within the GoM. Offshore oil exploration, oil spill contingency planning, and fish larval connectivity assessment are among the many activities that can benefit from the dynamical information carried in the geography constructed here.
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