The toxic cyanobacteria bloom began as slime green, turned bright blue, then brown and finally transmuted into a mass of black rot as the stench hanging over the St. Lucie River ripened from the smell of rotting garbage to putrid carcasses to feces.
Two miles down on a seafloor strewn with chimney-like accretions that spew a black plume of super-heated chemical soup, life exists. Tube worms 7 feet long have colonized here, along with tiny translucent octopuses, giant clams and shrimp dining on bacteria that produce energy not by photosynthesis but chemosynthesis in this light-starved, chemical-rich environment.
Richard W. Ohrn went missing for 12 days last year after his blood-spattered boat was found abandoned and dragging anchor two miles off Delray Beach, Florida. That triggered a Coast Guard search and a federal charge that by staging his disappearance “to escape legal issues” — the Palm Beach County sheriff’s description of why he vanished — he caused a false distress alert.
For 95 years, the gravesite of the USS Conestoga and her 56 crewmembers remained a mystery. Thought to have been somewhere in the vast Pacific off Mexico or Hawaii, the wreck of the oceangoing Navy tug was found and identified recently less than a day’s voyage from San Francisco, where she had set out on a 4,800-mile passage to her new duty station in American Samoa on March 25, 1921.
Thirty-five years ago this past April 14, Maersk Line’s Capt. Ngoc Nguyen was a frightened 13-year-old crammed aboard a 35-foot fishing boat with his mother, three younger siblings and 60 other refugees fleeing their Vietnamese homeland six years after Saigon’s fall.
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