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And the sea shall become like sackcloth

By imrdkl in News
Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:53:20 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

This winter a strange, black mass has darkened the gulf waters off of the Florida coast. Aerial and satellite photography shows that, at its peak, the mass was quite large and foreboding, and estimated to cover as much as 700 square miles of the southern Gulf of Mexico. Local anglers report that the water within the affected area is "snotty" and "nasty, like sewage". They also complain that the fish ordinarily found in the area have disappeared.

The mass first appeared in satellite photographs in mid-December, about 30-60 miles south of the Florida keys. It held together until early February, when it began to move in towards the shoreline, and has now broken up and dissipated somewhat along some 120 miles of Florida coastline.

Speculation is rife as to the cause of the phenomenon, and theories are being fielded which blame local river pollution, algal bloom (like red tide, although without the corresponding fish-kills), and even underwater fountains of black water from the seabed. Scientists are also analyzing satellite photographs from previous years to see if the "black water" has appeared before, without anyone noticing it. It is generally agreed, however, that this is the first significant occurance.

No major fish-kills have been reported in the area of the black water, although local fisherman report an abyssmal season of fishing in the vicinity. Researchers have begun to collect samples of the water for analysis, and oxygen has been found in the area, so it is not "dead zone", as some had suspected.

The Florida Keys, besides being prime fishing territory, is also the home of a major Marine Sanctuary. Billy Bartels, superintendant of the sanctuary, says that the aftereffects of the black water will "bear watching". Bartels was also one of the first to have a microscopic look at the brackish water, and concludes that the effect is not caused by algae, although no one has yet said what it is caused by. More results from the sampling and analysis are expected during the coming weeks. Watch the Naple News for up to the minute reports from local scientists, fishermen, and others affected by this phenomenon.


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Best black water theory
o Algae bloom 7%
o River pollution 10%
o Underwater Fountains 13%
o Billions and billions of angry squid 62%
o Other (comment) 6%

Votes: 66
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o strange, black mass
o 700 square miles
o satellite photographs
o Speculatio n is rife
o red tide
o "bear watching"
o Naple News
o Also by imrdkl

Display: Sort:
And the sea shall become like sackcloth | 66 comments (30 topical, 36 editorial, 0 hidden)
I know diddlysna about marine.* (4.66 / 3) (#3)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 10:56:42 AM EST

But of your theories only one makes any sense. The algal blooms can't be it because Bartels says there's no algae in it. Pollution will be a popular choice but 700 sq miles of thick matter is a LOT of pollution to have appeared so fast. So I can only surmise that it is probably something natural like an underwater fountain.

Play 囲碁
underwater fountain (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by khallow on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:12:28 AM EST

I assume by underwater fountain, they mean a large gas release from the ocean floor. My suspicion is that a lot of trapped methane or carbon dioxide bubbled to the surface all at once from oxygen-poor organic matter trapped under a little sediment. That would mix everything up and the water would turn black from the upturned organic material. Since bacteria would live in the original dark environment, you wouldn't see algae.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Black water? I know what is is... (2.00 / 3) (#6)
by coolvibe on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:03:50 AM EST

It's the REAL black monolith in liquid form. It will slowly float on land and form into a great black pillar. It is TIME! Stanly Kubrick was RIGHT!

Nah, just kidding... What the hell could this be? Is it just pollution? Or is it a naturally occuring phenomena that has occured for ages?

Yet another community site: hackerheaven.org. Now in juicy Scoop flavour!

s/Stanley Kubrick/Arthur C. Clarke/ (nt) (2.00 / 1) (#15)
by kuran42 on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:18:06 AM EST

kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]
s/Arthur C. Clarke/Clarke and Kubrick/ (2.00 / 1) (#19)
by mbrubeck on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:30:06 AM EST

Clarke's novelization of 2001: A Space Odyssey was actually written after the screenplay, which was co-authored by Clarke and Kubric and based loosely on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel."

[ Parent ]
Wrong (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by greyrat on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 12:41:55 PM EST

They were written simultaneously. Find a copy of Clarke's The Lost Worlds of 2001 and get the story behind the story from one of the horses mouths.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
IANAS, but... (3.66 / 3) (#11)
by Pseudoephedrine on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:11:26 AM EST

Is it possible it's a geological phenomena? Could an underwater eruption (as opposed to a fountain) throw up surrounding minerals (or petrochemicals?) into the water? Or could the ocean currents uncover and dissolve some mineral pocket which then caused the black water?

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
no volcanic activity here (4.00 / 3) (#18)
by khallow on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:28:12 AM EST

You don't get volcanic activity this far north. And no earthquakes either (I checked with the USGS site) which is another sign of volcanic activity. Maybe a release of trapped gas in sediment. They did say the patch was offshore from a river.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Alternative (tin-foil hat) theory (3.00 / 4) (#21)
by jabber on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 11:34:56 AM EST

A Russian spy submarine suffered an implosion, and the water polymerization equipment inside the engine leaked out..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Hmm (none / 0) (#41)
by trhurler on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 12:48:25 PM EST

Water polymerization equipment? Sounds about as useful(especially on a submarine) as gills on Mercury.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Hey now! (3.66 / 3) (#43)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 12:55:00 PM EST

No fair bringing reality, or facts, or thingys like that, into our paranoid delusional conspiracy theories! Go away! Shoo! Shoo!

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Thank you (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by jabber on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 01:30:09 PM EST

I did say (tin-foil hat) didn't I? I meant to... :)

But then again, maybe the process of polymerizing water releases tremendous energy, which can be used to power the sub?? Huh? Ever think of that??

Thing is, we just do not know... But the truth is out there.. [dum-dum-dum-dum]

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

But why (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by wiredog on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 01:35:55 PM EST

Would the Colombian Drug Smugglers sink it?

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Simple (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by jabber on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 02:21:05 PM EST

To frame Fidel Castro. Once he's weakenned, they can use Cuba as a staging area for easier importation of their 'produce' into the US..

Heck, the polymerization would actually help, because when the Gulf of Mexico water mixes with the pollution in the Altantic, right at the Florida Keys, they'll just be able to DRIVE from Cuba to Florida..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Nice job guys (5.00 / 3) (#54)
by KilljoyAZ on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 03:50:36 PM EST

I give your conspiracy theory 3 out of a possible 5 greenrd's.

Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
pollution (none / 0) (#50)
by eudas on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 02:41:17 PM EST

like someone else said, pollution would be a popular choice...

so, shuffling this under tin foil hat theories, why not something like this:

corp takes barrels of pollution, dumps 'em in middle of gulf of mexico, they sit at the bottom for a while, then step two: Something Happens (tm) and they burst, and voila: instant weird crap in the middle of the gulf.

hey this tin foil hat stuff is pretty fun...

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Not far from the truth (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by jabber on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 03:36:58 PM EST

There are pictures (Greenpeace I think) of Russian ships dumping barrels of radio/toxic waste in the ocean.. The barrels floated.. So the crew got out their shotguns and blasted them full of holes.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

No dead fish [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by kuran42 on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 04:10:34 PM EST

kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]
Cthulu! (4.26 / 15) (#30)
by Duende on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 12:15:57 PM EST

Finally, Cthulhu is rising from his slumber in R'Lyeh! Prostrate* yourselves and prepare to be devoured! Ia! Ia! Cthulu f'thagn!

*For the record, I originally typed prostate, but caught it before posting. I was tempted to leave it that way, but I'm not even quite sure how one would prostate himself.
Visit me at shrouded.net

The Black Goat with a Thousand Young! (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by Haicead on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 12:25:21 PM EST

That was actually my first thought, too, although I must say Cthulhu's usually my first thought on anything ;) I founded the (now defunct) UT Chapter for the Campus Crusade for Cthulhu.
"Not altogether a fool... but then he's a poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool." --E.A. Poe
[ Parent ]
See this? (none / 0) (#59)
by Duende on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 07:13:36 PM EST

In case you missed the entry, I'll point you to this diary entry.
Visit me at shrouded.net
[ Parent ]
Please don't do that (none / 0) (#64)
by silsor on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 12:02:47 PM EST

If I want it on my hotlist, I'll add it myself.

✠  Patron saint of unmoderated (none / 0) top-level comments.
[ Parent ]
The Tentacles, my friend.. the tentacles. (none / 0) (#65)
by AnalogBoy on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:01:00 AM EST

nuff said.
Save the environment, plant a Bush back in Texas.
Religous Tolerance (And click a banner while you're there)
[ Parent ]
A Gigantic.. (2.25 / 4) (#51)
by lngtones on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 03:25:28 PM EST


Don't listen to me I don't know anything

Two words: (3.83 / 6) (#55)
by John Miles on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 03:55:52 PM EST

Mir fungus.
For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
black oil (2.75 / 4) (#57)
by zephc on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 04:56:51 PM EST

from the x-files? turning local anglers into alien zombies! Oh crap!

According to a real scientist... (4.42 / 7) (#60)
by Clanwolfer on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 09:50:57 PM EST

My father works extensively studying the water/coast in that region, and says that this is nothing new. It's happened for several years, just not to this extent.

He's petitioning right now for a grant to get his crew down there to study this. If you're interested, their site is here.
--"I'm simply not going to take it any more."

aaaannnnd? (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by EriKZ on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 08:45:25 AM EST

Mind clueing us in on what it is? After all, if your Dad knows about it, and it's been happening for several years, there should be SOME idea of what's going on.

[ Parent ]
Must be.. (none / 0) (#61)
by andylx on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 10:48:26 AM EST

The Pirates of Dark Water

That was my first thought =p (nt) (5.00 / 3) (#63)
by F8alist on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 11:03:16 AM EST

Libertarianism: The absurd notion that an individual is capable of running his own life, and that the government has anything but his best interests at heart
[ Parent ]

And the sea shall become like sackcloth | 66 comments (30 topical, 36 editorial, 0 hidden)
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