Florida's Blue Holes

Ocean Science

Blue Holes are fascinating.  They're giant, mysterious holes on the sea floor.

They're found in many places around the world

Researchers recently began studying some in Florida. The holes are offshore from the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida

Some are too small for a human to squeeze through. Others are giant. They can be hundreds of feet wide, and hundreds of feet deep. 

Blue holes are magnets for sea life. Sea turtles, whale sharks and all forms of life come for the nutrients and food.

It all begins with the sun.

Phytoplankton are tiny plants in our oceans. Using photosynthesis, they turn sunlight into energy. They're the base of the food chain.

Little fish eat the phytoplankton. Then, big fish eat the little fish.

This food chain is part of a giant network of other chains. Everything is connected.

The "Green Banana" blue hole is located in Florida. It's one of the deepest ever found.

Green Banana is 50 miles offshore from Sanibel Island, Florida. 

It's in 155 feet of water. Then, the blue hole drops another 275 feet. Green Banana Hole could swallow a 20 story building.

These holes may support life that's not found anywhere else on Earth.  It could hold clues about alien life forms.

Organisms live in extremely difficult conditions.  Some use chemicals to make their own energy, instead of the sun. It's called chemosynthesis. Scientists didn't learn about this until the 1970s.

They aren’t connected to the sun’s food chain at all.  They have their own, parallel life system.  They’ve evolved differently than other life forms.

So, where did Green Banana get its name?  A fisherman saw some green  bananas float by.  He named it Green Banana, and the name stuck.

Divers first swam to the bottom in 1993.  It’s extremely dangerous, complex and technical diving.  It’s like planning a complex military operation.

Now, scientists are using robots to explore the holes.

Blue holes might give clues about where Earth’s first organisms came from. It’s also giving clues about life we may find on other plants.

Some of these blue holes might be connected to the Florida Aquifer.  That's Florida’s only source of fresh drinking water.

The holes could help scientists learn how to protect Florida’s drinking water supply from salt water intrusion. And, about red tide. These are huge problems for Florida.

Want to see more about blue holes? See video of their exploration, learn why they form, and more.