How romantic, the “Coral Strand…” Like a string of pearls the riches of Hutchinson Island’s coast strung along the blue waters of the Atlantic and Indian River Lagoon. The crowing jewel, today, known as Sailfish Point.
The above promotional map by Ben McCoy, brother, of the infamous rum runner, Captain Bill McCoy, highlights some of our area’s best features, most interesting history, and even an excerpt from a novel by Faith Baldwin:
” It was a long jut of land running into the water, upon one side was the ocean, upon the other, an inlet forming a small quiet bay. It was colored like a lithograph, strong blinding colors. The beach was so white that it dazzled, water and sky so blue they seemed unreal…”
If one looks closely at the map, fish of the area are listed around the point: Blue Fish; Sheepshead; Bass; Snapper; Pompano; Spanish Mackerel; and Tarpon everywhere…the Indian River is not noted just as the” Indian River” but the “Famous Indian River,” for fishing of course!
The publication notes that five presidents, Arthur, Cleveland, Roosevelt, Taft, and Harding, as well as Joe Jefferson, beloved disciple of Izaak Walton, fished these waters as “who indeed among fisherman has not heard of the famous St Lucie Region, rendezvous for more than half a century for anglers from all over the world!”
Believe it or not, according to The History of Martin County, the McCoy’s land, today’s Sailfish Point, was listed for $25,000.
It is fun to visit the dream like past, but soon or later, reality always sets in. In the 1950s the Coral Strand was sold to eccentric entrepreneur and Florida Oceanographic Society founder, James Rand, for its limited development the name was marketed as “Seminole Shores.” Later in the 1960s, the the Hutchinson Island property was sold by Harvard University to a group of Boston investors and eventually to Mobil Oil who legally tore the mangroves from the land, scared off the mosquitoes and filled it. Eventually, in the 80s the land was developed as exclusive “Sailfish Point.”
According to Dr Grant Gilmore, most famous for his long career at Harbor Branch Oceanographic, the waters/seagrasses surrounding Sailfish Point, the old Coral Strand, are truly the most diverse in the North America with over 800 types of fish, often growing baby fish, documented in these waters.
It is a crime that during rainy season, the Army Corp of Engineers often releases water from Lake Okeechobee exacerbating the pollution from our local canals killing the seagrasses in these waters, thus fish habitat destroyed. Last year, in 2013, according to Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic, approximately 85% of the seagrasses were destroyed.
Yes, this has happened many times, but one day, it may not come back.
For history, for today, we must fight to protect our “Coral Strand,” and our pearl, our incredibly bio-diverse waters…
The History of Martin County can be purchased at the Historical Society of Martin County: (http://www.martincountyhistoricalsociety.com)