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Satellite spots plume of black oily looking Gulf of Mexico water

Mesmerizing dark river plume mixes with deep blue Gulf

Suwannee River water discharge stained black from tannis mixes into the Gulf in this February 20, 2015, image from the Landsat 8 satellite.
Suwannee River water discharge stained black from tannis mixes into the Gulf in this February 20, 2015, image from the Landsat 8 satellite. (NASA Earth Observatory, Dr. Alice Alonso)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A plume of black oily looking water was spotted by a satellite flying over the Gulf of Mexico and the source originated  northwest of Jacksonville. 

What appears as ink squirting into the Gulf is actually blackwater flowing out of the 
Suwannee River.

The dark colored water traces the plume of discharge into a shallow section of the Gulf that adds about 60% of the fresh water to an area called the Suwannee Sound along the Big Bend.

For 250-miles water flows from southern Georgia’s to this point along the coast where the river finally meets the Gulf.

Just west of Jacksonville in the boggy Okefenokee Swamp, the peat deposits stain the water like a teabag in a cup of water. 

The headwaters flow into the Suwannee river where leaves and organic matter decay leaching tannins into the water which dyes the liquid nearly black. 

When the Landsat 8 satellite flew over the river delta on February 20, 2015 a view of the tannin stained discharge was captured from space.

In fact, the Suwannee River has so many dissolved organic substances that it is nearly ten times higher than other streams around the world.

North Carolina State University is using images from this satellite to study how water has changed in the Suwannee River. 

The amount of freshwater entering Suwannee Sound has a direct relationship on the growth of oysters in the area.
 


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