“Death in Every Direction,” The State of Florida’s Waters…SLR/IRL

Photo 3-20-16 Facebook SWFL Clean Water Movement- Sarah Joleen / Cocoa Bch
Photo 3-20-16 Facebook, SWFL Clean Water Movement- Sarah Joleen / Cocoa Bch.

North, South, East, West….

You know I have really just about had it. I know you have too.

I am so tired of posting and writing about the sad state of affairs of our state waters. Every direction one turns!

This weekend many photos showed up on Facebook reporting an enormous fish kill in the Central Indian River Lagoon near Melbourne and Cocoa Beach. These photos of hovering and floating fish are very disturbing.

What is even more upsetting is when one considers the state of just about all of Florida’s waters. Is this the same state I grew up in as a child. Really?

To summarize  a few recent, ongoing situations:

CENTRAL INDIAN RIVER LAGOON-experiencing  “brown tide” and fish die off…

NORTHERN LAGOON: 2011-2013 Super Bloom, morality events (both north and central), 60% seagrass die off…

Florida Today: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2016/03/18/report-fish-kill-brevard-county/81992006/ or http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/environment/os-florida-water-catastrophe-statewide-20160304-story.html

–ST LUCIE RIVER/S. INDIAN RIVER LAGOON: repeated discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals have destroyed the heath of the river. It was declared “impaired by the state in 2002. State of Emergency due to Lake O called in Feb. 2016).

(Article: TC Palm: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/indian-river-lagoon/health/lake-okeechobee-discharges-to-st-lucie-river-begin-2a945729-88d4-59b9-e053-0100007fc4eb-367103911.html)

—-CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER  (The western outlet for lake Okeechobee discharges, the river has been straightened, and connected to Lake O. Sometimes suffers from too little fresh water/high salinity. State of Emergency due to Lake O called in Feb. 2016)

Caloosahatchee area photo John Moran 2016.
Caloosahatchee River area, photo John Moran 2016.

(Article: Tampa Bay Times http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/lake-okeechobee-flood-control-creates-environmental-disaster/2270032)

—FLORIDA BAY: over the past few years has lost massive amounts of sea-grasses due to high salinity. When I was just there with my UF NRLI class this year, the bay looked murky. This bay historically received the fresh waters from Lake O.

(Article: Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article37583577.html)

—FLORIDA SPRINGS– Some have gone dry and others are lacking sufficient flow due to aquifer withdrawal. Many have experienced algae blooms. Photographer John Moran has documented their decline.

(Site: http://springsforever.org) or (http://springseternalproject.org)

–LAKE OKEECHOBEE–deluged with water from the mostly straightened Kissimmee River and others. It has been dammed and directed to the northern estuaries.

(State BMAP plan to improve: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/docs/bmap/LakeOkeechobeeBMAP.pdf)

–BISCAYNE BAY has also had seagrass die off and water quality issues/high human impact)

(Article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-noaa-biscayne-bay-20150118-story.html)

Keep documenting. Keep posting. Keep reading. Keep learning…Keep writing your elected officials…

Keep pushing for a better state. A better state of Florida’s waters.

2016 St Lucie River /IRL
2016 St Lucie River/IRL EL/JTL

(Thank you to Ms Bobbi Blodgett for getting me the details on the fish kill photograph.)

Photo 3-20-16 C.IRL fish kill Coco Bch.
Photo 3-20-16 C.IRL fish kill by Saha Joleen, Cocoa Bch.


3-25-16: I am adding this follow up article on the fish kill by Florida Today. The blog was written on 3-21-16. http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2016/03/23/what-we-know—-and-dont-know—-fish-kill/82163574/

71 thoughts on ““Death in Every Direction,” The State of Florida’s Waters…SLR/IRL

  1. Hi Jacqui…great summary of the situation with our waterways. I and the groups I work with will do our part to help any way we can. This has got to stop now. Thanks for the blogs and your leadership.

      1. Fortunately, we haven’t seen a problem around the Fort Pierce inlet yet where most of our tours launch.We go out on the incoming tides which bring in the clearer
        ocean water. But we are very concerned. We check the websites daily that monitor the enteric bacteria levels. We have held off on doing any tours further south for a least the last 6 months. The uncertainty is what makes it difficult to decide when it’s safe or not there. I’ll be sure to let you know with photos if things turn for the worse up here. But my fellow kayaking biz friends in Brevard County are beside themselves with the problems there. Maybe there’s at least a small silver lining with all the recent bad news which we hope will inspire everyone to get more involved.

        1. Contact the Governor’s office DAILY !!! Contact Gail Harrell, too.

          We need to light a fire on the political front and make something happen.

          On May 4, 2016 the North Fork was cleared of enteric bacteria and the advisory was lifted. As of the May 20 results, levels were unacceptable AGAIN for the three locations: River Park Marina, Veterans Park, and Sandpiper Bay Canoe Launch. I, for one, am ready to take grassroots action and organize a rally just like we did for All Aboard Florida. Billy – can you rally the troops?

    1. Some good thoughts, Jackie, though none of the sources of pollution compare to the horrors of what comes because of reckless drainage that’s done to keep Big Sugar dry and toasty,

      The EAA was sucked down by six feet and more. That allowed the crops, and caused by the discharge disasters.

      All the independent scientists understand this, why don’t so many of the media folks?

      1. Karl, I just a new gig running a news/events site and I didn’t realize how much propaganda is sent out in the form on content. I think some of tv station try harder then others. I had lunch with my uncle from Jupiter who would never listen to me and he was really distressed about the water, big sugar, the fish kill in the north. Only took three years but the message got thru.

    1. Brown Tide was first reported in the central IRL in 2005 I believe. Then in 2012/2013 there was a very pronounced bloom. (There had also been one in Texas around the same time) The water in the IRL looked terrible. Animals died–manatees and dolphins—. a so called Super Bloom had been north in the IRL –a different type– killed 60% of seagrasses in –this could not have helped the situation in the central lagoon… From what I have read “they” are not certain what causes brown tide in the IRL specifically other than high salinity—- but certainly, just like a human with a compromised immune system— sicknesses get very bad, very quickly. The river is sick. The government likes to note brown tide is “natural,” well so are other detrimental things but what is not normal is to have it to the degree and frequency it is now in the central lagoon destroying habitat and life. This was not the case years ago….We must help improve the health and strength of the overall system. If you Google “brown tide” different a lot will come up. What is scary when I read is that it does not seem the brown tide would go away once entrenched with out great change or efforts—Thanks for your interest and help spreading the word. Here is a FWC report:http://myfwc.com/research/redtide/monitoring/historical-events/brown-tide/

    1. Hey Karl the net ban didn’t work less fish today then there was 20 years ago Let’s say population pollution discharge of the lake habitat loss and development is the cause of fish declines you have been in Florida long enough to see that

  2. This is so very heartbreaking! If the fish are dying, you know that the birds can’t be far behind, because many of them eat the fish….. It is politics and the state Governor who is to blame!!!

  3. mind-blowing and heart wrenching..every time you think it can’t get worse it does….leaves you speechless

  4. It has been 6 months since I was in Cocoa. I think I will go this week end. I know a few good places where waves could churn my sea shells violently.I think this would NOT have happened if I had gone.

  5. I think brown tide is raw sewage. Without oxygen raw sewage can lie on the bottom preserved in acid. All it takes is rain runoff running over calcium during road or bridge work. The calcium reacts with the acid releasing massive amounts of desolved oxygen and bacteria start to break down the sewage. The problem is bacteria suck all the oxygen out of water and everything dies before the cycle is complete. I believe 100 years ago this cycle in the lagoon was continueous. All the creatures would pee and poo—the waves would wash it all to shore where the SOFT coquina formations would react in violent wave action. Releasing massive amounts of desolved oxygen and calcium chloride. I believe our historic lagoon was a marvel of creation and may have been more calcium chloride salt water than sodium chloride.

    1. this statement won’t hold up to scrutiny by a competent first-year university chemistry student… sorry, Mr. Wohlenberg, you may have a kernel of a good theory here, but you need to consult a chemist before making this statement… right now, your theory is a “belief” as you say… “…All it takes is rain runoff running over calcium during road or bridge work. The calcium reacts with the acid releasing massive amounts of desolved oxygen and bacteria start to break down the sewage…” (not chemically sound statement or reasoning here)

  6. The current agenda for governor re election is Jobs, economic growth, house construction growth, industry. This is what ignorant people vote for. This is progress. It is money primarily.

  7. It’s not all big sugar being a native of Florida for 50 years I seen the decline from mangroves to seawalls and condos the population has gone from 5 million to 20 million population and the pollution that comes with it is the problem and this is not coming from a land person I’ve been a commercial fisherman for 30 years

    1. there are many issues but none more damaging than the discharges. you could fix everything else as long as we have water from the lake coming to us we are screwed. Not to mention the aquifers in south florida, the everglades and the Florida Bay. These discharges are directly a result of bad water management.

  8. If you want to clean up the estuary we need to plant some serious oysters and clams when I was young lake worth was full of oysters and lots of fish black drum sheepshead permit pompano tons of fish I moved to jupiter in early 90’s to get away from rat race and then that place fell to population I’ve been in Sebastian last ten years and what a decline I have seen here the river has died sea grass is all but gone oysters have long been gone it’s sad to see the place I was born in such decay and the population is catching up with me here it will be time to move soon enough

    1. oysters were planted richard. the water was clear to the bottom at indian riverside park. the dischages kill the oysters. millions of dollars worth.

  9. I’ve seen the coral reefs in Boynton Palm Beach and Jupiter die from the algae blooms that grow on the sand in shallow water near the beach like sheets of plastic and when the ocean gets rough these sheets of algae break up and float onto coral and smother the coral and it dies most of it from fertilizer from all the lawns people don’t realize that all the water drain into ditches and rivers and eventually ends up in the ocean all the water runoff from our roadways is full of oil from all the cars and trucks and it ends up in our rivers and ocean as well We definitely need to send lake O water south and let the Everglades filter it before it goes into our rivers and estuarys and then plant oysters and clams to filter our lagoons It’s hard for me to see if that would even work with the population growing like it is but it would be a start

    1. I would think both. I think though we can have clean water and a high population although I rather it were not so high. The state is plumed for 4 million people or something and now there are 20. Ag’s placement I think too is an issue and is our shoreline development.

  10. The lagoon has been a mostly self contained and self cleaning ecosystem for thousands of years and we could have learned a lot from how it worked if Henry Flagler and company not destroyed it. Nothing cleans water like the H2O2 and calcium peroxide that comes when waves churn pee and poop violently on the lagoons shores

  11. One thing about the birds—fish—sea turtles—-whales and more is the don’t lie and sell each other out for money, I wish I could say the same about people

  12. Before the army Corp of engineers built the dike around the lake and the canals and spillways our rivers and estuaries had a natural ebb and flow of salt and fresh water which made Florida rich in marine life there was a vast amount of seagrass fish clams oysters and even conch lived in our lagoons but the dike and drainage canals and spillways changed all that now you either have to much saltwater or to much freshwater no balance anymore that is a big problem for marine life most all these algae blooms are a direct result of freshwater discharge in large amounts with a lot of fertilizer nutrients and yes algae totally uses up all the oxygen in the water which in turn causes fish kills this is nothing new but the water now days is much more saturated with these nutrients then it was 20 and 30 years ago I don’t even want to get started on the millions of septic tanks and how that plays into the problem

  13. Bottom line is army Corp of engineers needs to step up and get those spillways completed on the south end of lake and the state needs to buy the land it needs south of lake to get the water flowing South

  14. For the last several weeks they have been dredging Turkey creek . I noticed years ago that sea grass grew back around the mouth of sebastion river after they dredged it and was hopeing the same would happen at Turkey Creek. When they dredged at Turkey Creek they ‘now’ have mountains of sand that looks to be calcium and all the muck ran back into the lagoon. I have been hopeing the muck would be churning violently with the calcium sand in the mile long pipe neutrilizeing the acid so sea grass would grow in it. I was some worried this muck might contained herbicides preserved in a low oxygen environment that could become active again.Thick black muck stretched for miles along the shore the last couple of weeks but was not as bad this last week end. They have now stopped dredgeing.I think this week end I will see if I can get a sample of sand so I can pour viniger on it to make sure it is calcium.

  15. Quit spraying herbacides in the lagoons.. Fwc, and southeast chemical companies.. find something else to spend 11 million dollars a year on..

  16. The person in a leadership position who baffles me the most is Florida Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli. He lives on Merritt Island, for Christ’s sake! He apparently cares more about making sure that businesses are not burdened with clean water regulations than about the destruction of the IRL.

  17. Eventually I intend to build a system that will put desolved oxygen into drinking water before testing it, I believe testing drinking water that has no desolved oxygen is hideing ions(atoms )of many chemicals by keeping them dormant in an inert environment. It may keep bacteria dead but I think many people are drinking atoms of herbicide and gasoline.

  18. Very nice post, Jacqui, and greatly appreciated. I just photo-surveyed Merritt from north to south yesterday for my photoblog. Brutal. Just brutal. I can’t stop smelling it. I’ve never seen so many dead puffers and rays. Ugh.

      1. But of course! I certainly have more Volusia organisms featured than Brevard, but Volusia shares most of these species with the Treasure Coast your site features. 🙂

        1. i have been blogging about the water for three years. I just took over the site. I just put you on our facebook page for 10 am tomorrow. Keep in touch.

      2. Will do. I’m waist deep in grading tonight, but will spend quite a bit of time working on phosTracks (and reading treasurecoast.com) tomorrow — or really late tonight, if my heart holds out.

      3. Just occurred to me, there are actually two posts up right now (the two most recent) dealing with the Brevard fish kill. The newest is the protest, and the one behind that is a photo survey of Merritt Island — chronicling the fish kill. The fish kill stuff was really hard to do. Seeing all those dead stingrays… damn, that hurt. Anyhow, just in case you missed that second, older post, thought I’d give you a head’s up. I focused a bit more on the shore, as opposed to the floating fish. Macabre images, but important I think.

        1. your blog is wonderful. what is going on in the northern lagoon has nothing to do with the discharges, you can contact the Indian Riverkeeper if you have any questions. i sent you a friend request. and i can add you to our group save the Indian RIver Lagoon

    1. Really good work Janson. Wow. Super comprehensive documentation. Thank you so much for sharing. I will share your link for others. Keep up the excellent work. Difficult for you—I can’t image what those day/days were like.

  19. I think brutal is when you have babies to feed and there is no food—-It does not matter if you are blue heron—pelican or human. For many years our lagoon was a safty net you allways count on to put a meal on the table.

  20. back in Palm Bay now , Went to Sikes Creek to stop fish kill. I wonder what type of acid is brown? Beach sand turned to liquid immediately. A bucket of sand weighs 50 pounds and for it to turn to liquid immediately would take a tremendous amount of acid. Same sand would have zero reaction in the ocean,

  21. The pollution starts at the top in the executive branch of government and spreads out in a toxic stream as vast as the pollution spreading from Lake Okeechobee. There is no mystery, why. We don’t require scientists sifting through diseased tissue of dead manatees and dolphin. There is just one cause: politicians elected by Florida voters. There is only one way out: at the polls in November.

  22. What I find bizarre is everyones contempt for US sugar. I believe all your alcoholic beverages require sugar to ferment. US sugar’s sugar is in just about everthing we eat. In the winter they grow fresh vegitables for all across our country. I heard on the radio that someone insists it is polin from trees that is killing the fish. Suppose if this guy had millions of dollars to hire some “experts” to find the tree polin is killing fish. The next thing(I suppose) would be our government spending hundreds of millions the cut down trees to “save the lagoon”

    1. Brent please stop defending them. they needed the water to be a certain height for the sugar cane. they kept water high in the rim canals so when it rained they were flooded. then they backpumped it into the lake. then the gates were open. if you look back we were suppose to get little sporadic discharges. have you even been to Belle Glade? millions of acres of water pumped back into the lake. not to mention very Little water had gone south up to that time of year – we do have ways and those were under utilized. our sta 5/6 sits right next to us sugar and its alway low. sfwmd knew el nino was coming and they allowed sugar to do what they wanted and then when they got flooded they were like poor poor me when they did it themselves. I feel bad but thats what happened and then we get punished. not punished….. decimated that the word. the water was clean clear u could see to the bottom. its now brown. i had company this year they will never come back. my kids won’t come here because at their house is anna maria island and clean water and they like to go to the beach, without clean water we are really screwed.

  23. Thanks cydi for letting me here FACTS that let me see your point of view. I did not like how they dumped wide open on you–stripping the muck from the c-44 canal . I think muck could have been obliterated with h2o2 had they put shells in before they released water. I lived near Belle Glade when I helped build Belle Glade hospital and South Bay GEO prison. All the hard facts(and there is a mountain of them) I am seeing tell me that fresh water runoff is NOT what is killing the lagoon.

  24. You don’t need to plant oysters, Oysters would thrive if the shore was lined with mounds of coquina shells they way it was before they were all removed to pave roads and make cement (100 years ago) Bring back the environment That has been on the shores of the lagoon for thousands of years and everything will thrive—not just oysters

  25. I wonder if anyone has did studies to prove brown “algie” is even algie at all. I think it is a combination of tannic acid and carbonic acid that many years ago was what turned all the coquina formations brown.Now there are almost no more coquina formations to neutralize all this acid and release desolved oxygen . It is times like these when you can really see how fish love areas rich in oxygen.

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