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Mud Volcano Forms Off Trinidad Coast

Trinidadian fisherman Bert Peter points to where a mud volcano was discovered last May off the coast of Trinidad.

MAYARO, Trinidad (AP) - It is growing under the sea off Trinidad - a mud volcano that fills people who live nearby with foreboding and may soon emerge as the world's newest island.

Since it was discovered in May by a pair of spearfishermen 5 miles off Trinidad's eastern shore, the mud volcano has attracted hordes of sightseers who trek to a bluff to watch waves crash over its summit, which measures 160 feet across.

If it does become an island, don't plan on ever spending your holiday on it: It would be a muddy, wave-lashed piece of ground that could slip back underneath the sea at any moment.

Graham Scott, 37, was spearfishing in May in a favored spot with a friend when he discovered the mud volcano, then only 5 feet high.

``It was strange,'' Scott recalled in a telephone interview. ``The mud was soft. Soft like clay.''

Since then, it has ballooned to a height of some 40 feet, reaching to just below the ocean's surface, with a base 490 feet across.

The waters around it are so turbulent that Trinidad's Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management has warned boaters to stay away. Rugged fishermen, some of whom seem a bit spooked, need no prompting. Few tourists venture out in boats, preferring to gaze at the waters over the mud volcano from the safety of shore.

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