Kidz, 8 Steps to Becoming a “Toxic Algae Detective,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

 

Become a toxic algae detective!
Become a toxic algae detective!
Dirty Water Kills. River Kidz art archives.
Dirty Water Kills. River Kidz art archives.
DEP Algal bloom report to agencies and elected officials. (5-18-15, DEP 2015)
DEP Algal bloom report to agencies and elected officials. (5-18-15, DEP 2015)

WRITTEN FOR THE RIVER KIDZ, but FOR ADULTS TOO!

I do love government,  or I wouldn’t be involved in it, nonetheless, it has many faults. One of its greatest, in my opinion, is making information easy and accessible to the public. Whether this is a strategy, or just a failure of most government-systems, is up for debate.

Anyway, today, in the world of “government information on toxic algae,” I wanted to cut through the plethora of information found layers-down-inside-websites you probably don’t even know about and share are few links in case you have any interest in becoming a toxic algae detective. I believe through documenting toxic algae blooms, we will eventually be able to trace them back to their owners….those who dump high levels of nutrients into our waterways while fertilizing their fields and lawns, either not using “high-standard best management practices” or simply just not really caring about water quality like they should….

River Kidz toxic algae deceives track down algae blooms and report them. (River Kidz art)
River Kidz toxic algae deceives track down algae blooms and report them. (River Kidz art)

HOW TO BECOME A TOXIC ALGAE DETECTIVE

Tell your parents what you want to do….. 🙂 Then—-

1. Be on the lookout flourescnent green in the water. But it could be also brown, red, or blue yucky or strange looking water, usually in found during summer when its hot.

2. If  you see something suspicious, take a photograph on your phone and post it to the River Kidz or Rivers Coalition Facebook pages or my Facebook page; these pages are public.

3. Don’t touch it! It could be toxic!

4. Because you are dealing with “old people,” its best to call, not text…. 🙂 It’s worth it!

For local documentation call Dr. Vincent Ecomio at Florida Oeanographic: 772-225-0505 or email him at vencomio@floridaocean.org. Be sure to tell whoever answers the phone how important it is that they take a message, documenting your name, detailed location of bloom, your phone, and email address. Ask for someone to call you back and tell you what the level of toxicity was, if it was, after a sample is taken and tested by the state.  Ask if they can help you to interpret the data. Write down your findings. Keep a record. (http://www.floridaocean.org)

5. For state documentation, call the Department of Environmental Protection too. Trying to find the right number to call is like trying to find a needle in a haystack so let’s use one in nearby Ft Pierce: 772-467-5500.

6. Wait for a call back if you leave a message…again, tell your parents what you are doing.

7. If no one calls you back in two hours, call again and repeat the process. Once they talk to you, ask how you can find out how the testing went for the bloom to find out how toxic it was…

8. Go back and check on the bloom; report and post your findings. Did it move? Change color? What do you think could have caused this? Go on line and read about what can happen to algae blooms over time.

Maybe you want to start your own neighborhood website? Or share your clues and findings with at school or a community meeting?  Whatever you do—-

NOW YOU ARE NOW A TOXIC ALGAE DETECTIVE! Pat yourself on the back. You are helping to create a better water future for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

The links below are very helpful.

The first one is from the Florida Department of Health and is informational. The second allows you to trace the history of blooms reported anywhere in the state. Just enter “St Lucie River…” The third is a DEP informational piece that in my opinion “waters down” toxic algae blooms and their sources, but does provide excellent information and contact numbers.

Congratulations, thanks again for helping to save our river, for us, the fish, the birds, and the animals;  hope to see you detectives on the water!

1. http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/cyanobacteria.html

2. http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/public-access-caspio.html

3. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2015/files/Algal_Bloom_2015.pdf

Artist Julia Kelly's beautiful artwork will be featured in the River Kidz Second Edition Workbook. Her work was also featured in the first edition. (Photo 2014.)
Artist Julia Kelly’s beautiful artwork in the River Kidz workbooks features the animals of the SLR/IRL staring Marty the Manatee, 2014/15.
River Kidz drawing 2012.
River Kidz art archives.

7 thoughts on “Kidz, 8 Steps to Becoming a “Toxic Algae Detective,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Do not get discouraged because they did not buy the land. Much is at stake and depends on us. I know I have exsplained what has happened to the lagoon to so many people and nobody seems to care at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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