Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tea time

I forgot to post this interesting photo a week or so ago, but I still wanted to share it with you. When I was taking photos from a Portofino unit I noticed the water in Santa Rosa Sound had turned the color of tea. In the years I've lived here, I've never seen it look this way, so I quickly wrote a couple 'experts' to see what was going on.

Mark Nicholas, a biologist at Gulf Islands National, and Chips Kirchenfeld of Coastkeepers both wrote back to explain recent flooding of major Alabama rivers had resulted in large amounts of suspended sediment washing into Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound. That sediment contained high levels of Tanin, a natural product from leaf material breaking down (stay with me - think Earl Gray tea leaves). So, in a way, our water turned to tea!

Mark added that although it is a natural watershed process, it can get compounded by all the lawn/farm fertilizers and herbicides that get washed along with it.

Click on the photo to see our Santa Rosa 'tea'.


Tony said...

I've seen that before but never understood why. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I live up near the top of Escambia Bay near the I-10 bridge and I have thought the water looked like chocolate milk the last few days. I think the wind has kept the water churned up too.


Barrier Island Girl said...

I've lived here a few years and never seen it like this, so I had to question why.

You're right, Bonnie, the wind has definitely been keeping it churned up. My mother was here for a little more than a week and only got to the beach once. She had just had eye surgery (on both eyes) and was concerned about going out when the winds were blowing the sand around.