Florida Keys commercial fisherman Phil Whitezell had heard of black water, but he hadn't seen it -- until two weeks ago.
His report and others like it to a federal fisheries biologist based in Key West are making black water the talk again after the mysterious phenomenon
darkened fishing grounds between Naples and the Florida Keys in 2002.
Whitezell came across the black water west of the Marquesas Islands while he was on the trail of yellowtail snapper Oct. 12 and 13.
That's about the same time satellite images showed an algae bloom in the same region, said Rick Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration. That bloom has lessened in intensity, he said.
But Stumpf also is keeping an eye on a larger algae bloom that started in late September offshore of Venice and now stretches from south of Naples to
the Dry Tortugas.
The larger algae bloom has not spawned reports of black water, and it does not show up on satellite images as darkly as occurred in 2002.
The Florida Marine Research Institute sent water sampling kits Wednesday to two fishermen, including Whitezell, so they can take black water samples
if they run across it the next time they're out.
A red tide research cruise already scheduled by FMRI plans to take samples of the algae bloom south of Naples next week, said Jennifer Wheaton,
research administrator for FMRI's ecosystem assessment and restoration section.
Stumpf said that bloom intensified when it moved south of Sanibel Island, possibly with a bloom of a diatom, a type of microscopic algae, called
Rhizosolenia. The same blooms have been occurring north of the Florida Keys, he said.
Has anyone ever heard of this before? There are numerous theories for what this could be, what do you lot think?