Over the past few weeks, another mass of black water appears to have formed off the Gulf Coast of Florida near Sanibel Island. This false-color image acquired on August 14, 2002, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft shows the location of the black water. In the image, Sanibel is the hook-shaped Island on the western coast of Florida at the midway point of the image right at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.
Florida residents say that pitch black water has been washing up on the shore and appears to be the same consistency and color as the black water that appeared late last spring further south near the Keys. Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) images obtained of the Sanibel black water mass show that it is browner in appearance, closer to the shore, and not as widespread as the black water in the Keys. Researchers speculate that this recent event may be due to anything from sediment run-off from the Caloosahatchee River to an increase in phytoplankton growth along the shore.
Scientists from the Florida Marine Research Institute are currently collecting samples of the water for analysis. They do not yet believe that there is any connection between the two events. Many in the community, however, are concerned about the water’s effect on the marine life in the area. More than fifty percent of the coral in the northern Florida Keys were lost this year at the site of the first black water event.