Waterfront Times 02 01 2017 E Edition Page 1

Serving South Florida's Coastal Neighborhoods F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 Y E A R 7 I S S U E 8 Admiralty Law 5 Classifieds 13 Eats 7 Events Calendar 10 Tide Table 11 That meant there was no guarantee the SuBastian team would be able to find the vents again. But during a three-week expedition in December, luck was on their side: The team located the three chimneys on their very first dive with the ROV. On that dive, SuBastian flew into a live underwa- ter volcano and was engulfed in smoke. Its bottom half and entire front portion were coated in lava as the vol- cano erupted. "We came to a point where droplets of molten sul- fur were spitting up, and we realized we needed to get the hell out of there," says lead mechanical engineer Jason Williams. "So that was obviously a little stressful - and exciting." The ROV was not damaged. The bottom of the ocean is very cold, and though sulfur spews out from the chimneys at up to 690 degrees Fahrenheit, it cools almost instantly. Finding Fantasia Over the next couple of weeks, the team conducted its research in 12-hour dives, getting up before dawn each day to prep the rover and send it on its two-hour commute to the bottom of the Back-Arc. When the rover came back to the surface laden with samples, the scientists streamed out of the control room and descended upon its bounty. They spent evenings in the lab processing what was collected, while the rover team started getting SuBastian ready for the next day's dive. "It's a long day each day," says Chadwick. "It's a bit exhausting. We stagger the hours so the people who were up late can sleep a little, and the others can run things in the early hours." Hydrothermal vents are epicenters of diversity in the deep sea. Since much of the ocean floor is mud, the sud- den presence of hard rock provides attachment points for corals and sponges, which in turn changes the dynamic of life in the immediate vicinity. Vents also provide another crucial resource for evolv- ing organisms: heat. These vents churn out up to 3 percent of the total energy in the deep sea. KASTALIA MEDRANO New York Times Syndicate More than 13,000 feet under the sea, scientists have found a volcanic wonderland unlike any other place on Earth. The newfound ecosystem is crawling with life - hairy snails, ghostly shrimp and weird worms - including some species that may be new to science. The discovery involves three new hydrothermal vents that exist along the Mariana Back-Arc, a dynamic zone be- tween Papua New Guinea and Japan where new ocean crust is constantly bursting forth. The Back-Arc is part of an active geologic region that includes the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth. Finding the new vents was "a big breakthrough, a big thrill for everyone," says team member William Chadwick, a submarine volcanologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "There's a lot to learn about these habitats - not only the neat animals, but how they fit into the global picture," says Andrew Thurber, a deep-sea ecologist at Oregon State University who was not part of the expedition team. "This particular [site] is pretty different than those often studied, so it'll add to our overall understanding of the global ecosystem." Enter the luck dragon Scientists found the vents thanks to SuBastian, a new kind of remotely operated vehicle developed at the Schmidt Ocean Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. Guided from the surface by the Schmidt research vessel, Falkor, the ROV can stay underwater for weeks at a time. The Falkor did an initial investigation of the Back- Arc in 2015, but that expedition didn't have SuBastian. Scientists on that trip instead observed what looked like vents and active lava flows using remote sensors, and then marked the approximate locations on a map for future study. "It's like if we were in a helicopter looking for which house in a neighborhood had their fireplace on, and we're lowering sensors to look for smoke coming out of a chim- ney," says Chadwick. No boat? Don't fret, park offers a cruise after dark ARNOLD MARKOWITZ Waterfront Times Oh, what fun it is to take an evening cruise of the southern bay in Biscayne National Park. What, no boat? You don't need one. For $15 per person, you can do it on a park tour boat with a ranger telling you all about what you see and what you don't notice. That comes with a campfire and s'mores. The park will run two 75-minute cruises on each of two Saturdays - March 18 and April 15 - one starting at 6 p.m. and the other at 7:30. Sooner still, you can enjoy a free campfire con- cert by singer-songwriter Grant Livingston, otherwise known as "South Florida's Historian in Song." Right, Livingston sings of characters in regional history, and he does it rather cleverly in a musical style that comes from ragtime, country, blues and swing. That's scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. S'mores are included in this too. Bring your own camp chairs and ground blankets. Of course these things can't be done without giv- ing them a catchy name, so they're named Park After Dark. The location is the park's visitor center at 9700 SW 328 St.,on the bayfront, 9 miles east of Homestead. You'll need a reservation for the cruise. Call 786- 335-3644. The events are weather-dependent so save the number to double-check on the day of your cruise. Bird populations reclassified There's mixed news from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission concern- ing the birds we see at marshes and shorelines. Brown pelicans and snowy egrets have been re- moved from the state's list of "Imperiled Species," along with that less famous but hardly unimportant creature, the Lake Eustis pupfish. FWC credits that to successful conservation, al- though its announcement says those birds will con- tinue being monitored and conserved. A dozen other imperiled critter species also have been delisted. The state is more worried than before about our little blue heron, tricolored heron, reddish egret, roseate spoonbill and seaside sparrows (both the Scott and Wakulla versions) of the bird persuasion. Formerly on the list called Species of Special Concern, they have been reclassified as threatened. That doesn't necessarily reflect a clear, present danger, but it means they have small populations or are declining in number or have a very limited range. Five fish also have been reclassified from special concern to threatened: The bluenose shiner, salt marsh top minnow, southern tessellated darter, Santa Fe crayfish and Black Creek crayfish. Observing Florida's birds You can observe some of those birds referenced above - herons, egrets and spoonbills - in nesting colonies at Paurotis Pond, an Everglades National Park highlight 24 miles down the road from the main entrance near Homestead. Human hubbub gives them the jitters, so access beyond the parking lot was closed in January as SEE BIRDS PAGE 6 Photos reveal one of the last unexplored places on Earth SEE UNEXPLORED PAGE 12 Fears run amok................................................... 3 China as maritime giant................................. 5 The team recovers the ROV at the end of a long day's dive. Photo Thom Hoffman, Schmidt Ocean Institute

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