Last Thursday, concerned citizens traveled to Tallahassee. Some were from the East Coast, some were from the West Coast, and some were from Florida’s Southern Tip. Those from the Southern Tip, like us from the Northern Estuaries, are experiencing a die off.
But their estuary is even larger and more famous; its name is Florida Bay. The sometimes confusing part of reading about all the present water issues is that Florida Bay’s die off is due to lack of fresh water, rather than too much such as ours. Nonetheless, as with everything in life, it’s all connected.
Florida Bay has been heavily impacted over the years not only because of the redirection of about *20 percent of its waters from Lake Okeechobee that used to flow south, but also due to the encroachment of development into the Everglades’ watershed near Homestead and north thereof. Years ago this development cut off water to Florida Bay especially through Taylor Slough, a shallow river. (See map below)
During a recent visit, my husband and I noted this area east of Everglades National Park experiencing a real estate boom of highway construction and the sell off of agricultural lands for residential development, so this encroachment issue will only increase over the coming years.
Shark River Slough, to the east, is much larger and also feeds the Bay. (See map below)
Although the South Florida Water Management District and Army Corp of Engineers have been “working hard” on the area of the Taylor Slough area of the state, it will not be enough to save the dying Bay that has lost up to 50,000 acres of seagrass recently according to Dr Davis of the Everglades Foundation and reports by local fishermen.
The photos shared in this post by Captain Daniel Andrews of Ft Meyers show the a section of the Bay on December 20th, 2016, at around 1500 feet south of Cape Sable. Cape Sable is west of Taylor Slough but still affected. The waters of the Bay have been decreased not only through Taylor Slough, but also Shark River Slew, of which Lake Okeechobee was once connected as documented by our Native Americans.
Captain Daniel said in an interview: ” The last major die off the Bay had was in 1987, and it resulted in a decade of algae blooms from all the nutrients that were released by the decaying grass. It took ten years for it to recover.”
Now this cycle is happening all over again, in sync with toxic blooms in the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries caused by too much water.
Too little or too much. We are all connected…
National Park Service report on dying seagrasses and algae blooms in Florida Bay: https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/upload/seagrass-Dieoff_final_web_hi_res.pdf
* Florida Park Service, Everglades National Park
Captain Daniel Andrews can be contacted at:https://captainsforcleanwater.org
3 thoughts on “Overview of Florida Bay’s Water Problems and How They Are Connected to Ours, SLR/IRL”
Informative. Thank you.
Jacqui, I lived in Miami and guided on Florida Bay out of Flamingo in the mid 80s through 1990, at which time the algal bloom was so horrific that I quit going there, not returning until the late 90s when things got a bit better. I sampled water at that time for Nature Conservancy, too. The problem now is exactly the problem then– the Bay has lost its resiliency to withstand drought and hypersalinity.
It is sobering to realize that that place may fail totally, worse than back in 1990. We must return the flow of fresh water and not in the dribbles that the SFWMD says is sufficient.
Mike thank you for your personal experience. I really wish the press would make the connections between the three estuaries one story rather than two. This is the story that must be shared to inspire a more crisis oriented approach from the State.