black water event, additional historical information

Gene Shinn eshinn at
Mon Mar 25 14:41:54 EST 2002

This report on the black water event of 1878 was sent to me last week by
Walt Jaap of FMRI. You may want to dig further.
20 March, 2002

TO: E.A. Shinn, et. al.

FROM: Walt Jaap

Reference: Black Water Intrusions

With reference to recent reports of a mass of black water off the southwest
Florida coast, the following historical information is offered to provide

The following is a quote from the log of the Tortugas supply vessel Activa.
The Activa supported the lighthouse and Fort Jefferson during this period.
The black water phenomena was reported to be the cause of fish kills as well
as coral die off (reported by Mayer, A.G. 1902. The Tortugas as a station
for research in biology. Science 17: 190-192). The quote from the Activa as
reported in Feinstein, Ceurveles, Hutton, and Snoek, 1955. Red Tide
outbreaks on the west Florida coast. Report to the Florida State Board of
Conservation. By the Marine Laboratory, University of Miami. 44 pp.

The water "was very dark, like cypress water" The log reported that it was
encountered during a voyage from Key West to Dry Tortugas.

Was black water Red Tide, a mass of water from the Mississippi, run off out
of Big Cypress and the Everglades? We don't know. I spoke to John W. Wells
in about 1976 and he was unable to offer any insight (John was a Carnegie
Institute researcher at Tortugas in 1932). He was a collaborator with T.W.
Vaughn (Vaughan started working in Tortugas around 1910 and was an associate
with A.G. Mayer who founded of the Tortugas lab).

We have a mystery, surrounded by an enigma, within a conundrum. Black water
is a fascinating subject. Corals that are that old (go back beyond 1878)
have unique thin growth bands (according to Hudson) that should be looked at
with isotopic techniques to see if we can learn more about the nature of
Black Water.

Is the black water mass reported today the same? Possibly, or possibly not.

------------------------------------ ----------------------------------- |
E. A. Shinn
email eshinn at
USGS Center for Coastal Geology |
600 4th St. South | voice (727) 803-8747 x3030
St.Petersburg, FL 33701 | fax (727) 803-2032
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------

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