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From National Geographic:

Inland blue holes are unlike any other environment on Earth, thanks largely to their geology and water chemistry. In these flooded caves, such as Stargate on Andros Island, the reduced tidal flow results in a sharp stratification of water chemistry. A thin lens of fresh water—supplied by rainfall—lies atop a denser layer of salt water. The freshwater lens acts as a lid, isolating the salt water from atmospheric oxygen and inhibiting bacteria from causing organic matter to decay.

Fifty feet from the surface looms a pale haze, less smoky than fibrous, like a silvery net of faint, swirling cobwebs hovering motion less in the darkness. It's a layer of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas created by bacterial colonies and decaying organic matter.

"All of a sudden, it's got you," says photographer Wes Skiles of the "insanely dangerous" vortex in Chimney Blue Hole off Grand Bahama. Like a giant bathtub drain, it sucks down millions of gallons when the tide comes in. "It's like going over a waterfall—there's no escape." 
Of the more than one thousand blue holes believed to be in the Bahamas, less than 20 percent have been probed, and Kakuk estimates that three-quarters of those offer passages never seen before. The great age of Bahamian blue hole exploration lies ahead.


1 comments

Jono said... @ July 23, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Oh my goodness - toxic gas is beautiful!

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