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Wall Leadin

    Off the coast of Florida, there are places where, seemingly out of nowhere, patches of fresh water appear.
    Some of them are groundwater upwellings. Others, however, run a few hundred feet deep straight down, into the continental shelf — the result of the bottom collapsing. They are deepwater sinkholes, and offer some unique opportunities for fishermen.
    These submarine sinkholes exist all over, with famous ones in Belize, in Egypt and, closer to home, in the Bahamas, that attract scuba divers from all over the world.
    The submarine sinkholes off Florida — at times referred to as submarine springs because they contain groundwater upwellings of freshwater — are less widely known. There are a few that have been documented by the United States Geologic Survey — Crescent Springs and Red Snapper Sink are just a couple — but others, including a string of sinkholes southwest of the Florida Keys, exist with virtually no notice.
    And a Philadelphia man who succeeded in having one named for a U.S. Navy submarine believes they are a fishing opportunity that is being missed, where swordfish, rosefish, blueline tilefish, grouper and roughy can be found hiding deep beneath the surface.
    John Lahm, an electrician from Philadelphia who spent part of his career working at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, connected his passion for the Navy with his interest in these submarine sinkholes, which have been explored in part through the use of the Naval submarine NR-1. The NR-1 is a nuclear-powered sub that has been used in a variety of sea floor exploration and recovery operations, including a survey of the sinkholes off the Keys.
    Lahm succeeded in lobbying to have one of the sinkholes named for the sub. The NR-1 sinkhole — coordinates are 24 14.0 north, 82 18.2 west (24.2333333, -82.30055555555555) — honors that history. It lies in an area near the Straits of Florida, south and west of the Keys, along the edge of the continental shelf, part of the Pourtales Terrace.
    Several of these sinkholes – including the NR-1 — were explored and described in a scientific paper that appeared in the Bulletin of Marine Science in 2005 that focused on deep sea coral reefs in the Pourtales Terrace, an extensive hardbottom habitat. Two of them were looked at a second time in 2013 as part of research looking at the impact of marine protected areas and coral habitat protection in that area, research published in July 2014.
    According to information on the Terrace published by NOAA, the area is limestone that dates back a minimum of 2.6 million years, and with much of the area dating back much further. "A chain of sinkholes runs for about 100 km (62 miles) along the southwest margin; the largest is the Jordan Sinkhole, a pair of steep-walled depressions in 350 m (1,100 feet of water) that are as much as 260 m (850 feet) deep," the NOAA information says.
    The sinkholes, which reveal layers of many kinds from sand and clayey soil to limestone and bedrock, have become home to a variety of species of corals and sponges. But corals and sponges aren't the only creatures that inhabit these sinkholes.
    Lahm — who has researched the topic extensively — points out that the NR-1 submarine encountered swordfish on multiple occasions while exploring the sinkholes.
    One researcher he corresponded with, Dr. Lewis Land, told Lahm he was aboard the NR-1 when it was exploring the Key Biscayne sinkhole and others in the Terrace in 2000. Lahm said Land told him he was spooked by the sight of "a large yellow eye" that appeared on the other side of the portal he was looking through at one point. Land also told Lahm of seeing an injured billfish and was told by one of the submarine's crew that the sub was "attacked all the time when we traverse the mouths of these springs," Lahm said in a letter.
    Lahm believes these Terrace sinkholes hold fishing treasures that most are simply missing out on. The Jordan sinkholes, for instance, lie directly beneath the Gulf Stream, he notes. Others in the string include the Marathon sinkholes and the NR-1 sinkhole, in addition to several uncharted, unnamed shafts.


tales from the edge: a long, slow dance with the devil


It was a battle of endurance, patience and a little bit of luck to land the fish of a lifetime.

do the (bimini) twist

twisting line

The Bimini twist is a great knot for joining line to line. Here's how to tie it.