Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Researchers set to explore giant 'blue hole' off Florida’s Gulf Coast

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 1:14 PM

click to enlarge The Amberjack Hole - PHOTO VIA MOTE MARINE LABORATORY
  • Photo via Mote Marine Laboratory
  • The Amberjack Hole
A multi-institutional team of researchers is set to embark on a yearlong exploration of a 450-foot "blue hole" in Florida waters next month.

The blue hole, known as “Green Banana,” sits off Florida’s Gulf coast, 155 feet below the surface. Blue holes are essentially sinkholes formed underwater, and scientists have no idea how many exist, where they are likely to be found or what’s inside of them, according to NOAA.

"[Blue holes] are scattered across Florida’s Gulf continental shelf,” the NOAA site states. “They vary in size, shape and depth, but most are ecological hot spots with a high diversity of abundance of plants and animals.”
The August expedition will be conducted by a team of scientists and researchers from Florida Atlantic University, Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S. Geological Society and Mote Marine Laboratory, as a part of a three-year-long project to learn more about the underwater mysteries.

Some of the questions researchers hope to answer are whether blue holes are connected to Florida’s groundwater system, whether a particular blue hole is producing nutrients affecting the area, and whether these environments harbor unknown microbes.

In 2019, the same project explored the Amberjack Hole, 30 miles off the coast of Sarasota, where researchers found the remains of two endangered smalltooth sawfish.

This story originally appeared in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
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