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Old 02-08-2009, 10:03   #1
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Silly Ocean Question

OK, I'm asking this because I honestly don't know the answer and it has me curious:

Normally the water here in Melbourne, FL is sort of teal colored and a little cloudy but overall pretty clean. This time of year it's also nice and warm.

For the past week it's been cold and brown. The brown water seems to go about 1/5 mile off shore.

What causes this? I thought maybe it could be an algal bloom, but the water isn't always that dirty looking, just brown (although yesterday you could definitely see something fuzzying up the water).

I keep thinking it could be something biological having to do with the fact that the cruise ships dump their trash and tanks about 3 miles out on their way into Port Canaveral. But I hope that's not it.

The major temp difference that is accompanying it is what has me puzzled.

Anybody an expert?
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:09   #2
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Havent you have had a lot of rain in Fl lately?
Is it river silt run off?
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:14   #3
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We actually haven't had much more than normal here and our main river (the Indian River) really isn't even a river but just a brackish space between the barrier island and the mainland.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:24   #4
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The more nutrients that are in the water, the greater amount of phytoplankton that there will be. This gives the water its green color. Zooplankton then feeds on the phytoplankton which then further changes the water color and its turbidity(clarity).
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:43   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drew.ward View Post
the fact that the cruise ships dump their trash and tanks about 3 miles out on their way into Port Canaveral.

Anybody an expert?
Not me, but I have a question.

Do the cruise ships really still dump trash overboard?

My first and last cruise was on my honeymoon and while we cuddled on the aft deck late one night we observed them throwing bag after bag of trash over the lower stern rail leaving a dotted trail in the pleasant moonlight.

No more business for them from me!

Sorry for the thread drift.

Perhaps they are letting water out from various levees or dams.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:50   #6
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There has been a lot of pressure from different countries and the passengers themselves for them to curb the amount of trash they dump in the ocean. Some cruise lines are better than others at respecting the ocean. Some keep all their plastics, which is illegal to dump anywhere at sea. Some keep their cardboard and some don't. Its really a mixed bag. Some follow the law which does allow the dumping of garbage at sea as long as you are a specific distance away from shore for the type of garbage you are dumping.

One cannot blanket label all cruise lines as having the same waste disposal policies. Some are cleaner than others.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:57   #7
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There has been a lot of pressure from different countries and the passengers themselves for them to curb the amount of trash they dump in the ocean. Some cruise lines are better than others at respecting the ocean. Some keep all their plastics, which is illegal to dump anywhere at sea. Some keep their cardboard and some don't. Its really a mixed bag. Some follow the law which does allow the dumping of garbage at sea as long as you are a specific distance away from shore for the type of garbage you are dumping.

One cannot blanket label all cruise lines as having the same waste disposal policies. Some are cleaner than others.
I am pretty sure of all that but WOW!

Just imagine the impact I have when out sailing (I can do that now - hehe) and toss a sardine can overboard as compared to a ship with hundreds for the week. Week after week after week.

I don't even toss the sardine can.

Just sayin'.

<edit>

Again, sorry for the drift.
I will stop now.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:02   #8
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Yup...a lot of non-biodegradable crap still gets dumped in the ocean. My gut feeling is that its less the developed countries that are doing this now because of international laws (MARPOL) and a better respect for the planet and more the developing nations who are not under such pressures to clean up their act.

Plastics, metals, glass and cardboard are some of the things that get sorted out below decks of the more responsible cruise lines. They are sorted underway and then recycled when the ship reaches port.


Royal Caribbean's 2008 Stewardship Report.
http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/...8#/85d7f0b8/12

They are not perfect but they are on the right track.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:03   #9
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I saw a container ship on TV which had a dumpster on deck to store all their garbage whilst at sea.

Isnt there a 3 mile no dump no pump rule in the States?
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:12   #10
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drew.ward,

Sorry for the thread drift.
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Old 02-08-2009, 11:16   #11
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To answer the poster's original question, it could perhaps be upwelling? I.e. cold, nutrient-rich deep water that rises to the surface. Upwelling may be caused by a prolonged offshore wind that drives away the surface layer, making the deep water rise to replace the water that is transported away by the wind.

Upwelling is generally a good thing, BTW, the world's richest fisheries are usually found in typical upwelling areas.
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:07   #12
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then again, it could be a red tide... Updwellings I have seen are usually clear.
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:53   #13
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No prob on the thread drift guys...it's a very valid issue that merits discussion.

I wonder if it could be a combination of updwelling and red tide. There have been a ton of pelicans out and they're much closer to shore than usual which means there must surely be lots of fish.

Of course that always makes me think of another question I always forget to ask...when there are pelicans is it also logical that there would be sharks?
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Old 02-08-2009, 14:00   #14
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It could be an algal bloom which sometimes are called "red tides" An algal bloom is an abundance of phytoplankton. Sometimes it is harmful to other life but most times it is not. Harmful algal blooms in Florida often have a neurotoxin called brevetoxin which is caused by a dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis. It can harm fisheries and can make some shellfish deadly to humans.

The causes can be natural or human caused. Agricultural runoff can be a possible cause which can contain nitrates and phosphates...which is the normal limiting factor for their growth.

We get algal blooms here on the SF Bay in the spring. I take out scientists who study these and other nutrient related occurrences. Once in a great while the south SF Bay gets a massive algal bloom which can drop the O2 levels in the water and have caused fish kills amongst certain species.

Scientists don't really use the term "red tide". The broader and more accurate description is "algal bloom". Sometimes algal blooms are quite visible and sometimes they are not very visible at all. We use a fluorometer mounted to a CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) to help detect these blooms.
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Old 02-08-2009, 14:11   #15
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It could also be clam spawn. We get it in our canal system like clockwork every May.
It's coffee colored and our usual 8 to 10 foot visibility is reduced to a few inches.

Steve B.
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