Death by Fertilizer, SLR/IRL

Definition of fertilizer: one that fertilizes specifically, a substance (such as manure or a chemical mixture) used to make soil more fertile so things grow. Usually containing phosphorus and nitrogen.


SFWMD 2005

“Death by Fertilizer” or “Our Sick Friends” was originally a booklet created by the River Kidz in 2012 to bring awareness to the ailing health of the bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon; I think the message remains a relevant teaching tool today.


South Florida’s water issues~

~The Lake Okeechobee Watershed: 88% agricultural in nature running into a now sick, eutrophic, algae-ridden, Cyanobacteria filled Lake;  a 700,000 acre Everglades Agricultural Area south of the Lake allowed to back bump when flooding occurs; all this water, in turn, discharged into the ailing St Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee Estuary by the ACOE while the SFWMD and FDEP, and their bosses, the  Executive and Legislative branches of government look on. This putrid, polluted water runs out into the ocean. We think that’s the end of the water destruction, but it’s not, as red tide and seaweed are fertilized, growing into monsters we have never seen before.

Phosphorus Loading by Land Use, Gary Goforth:

Septic and sewer pollution is a type of fertilizer too. Some people around the world fertilize their crops with their own human waste; dog poop is also a “fertilizer,” and all this fertilizer leeches or runs off into our estuaries and ends up blending with the polluted Lake O water coming down the pike to the ocean. Every rain event runs right down the storm drains of our neighborhoods and shopping malls with all the “crap” it carries. We designed it that way, years ago, and have not changed this model. The fertilizer put put on our lawns, of course, runs off too.

Yes, it is death by fertilizer that we are experiencing this 2018. Eutrophication, Blooms of algae and cyanobacteria; red tide; too much seaweed suffocating the little sea turtles when they try to come up for air…

The fancy, confusing words of “nutrient pollution” must be replaced with “fertilizer,” something we can all understand. From the time we are children, we learn that “nutrients” are good, they make us strong. Fertilizer can be good, but we instinctively know it can also burn. We know not to eat it; it is not nutritious.  Nutrient Pollution is an oxymoron created by industries and government so we have a hard time understanding what is going on.

In conclusion, fertilizer (phosphorus and nitrogen) from corporate agriculture; poop from animals and people, (mostly nitrogen) and it is feeding, “fertilizing” Lake Okeechobee’s cyanobacteria blue-green blooms that in turn are poured into the St Lucie and Calooshatchee, which in turn this year are feeding, “fertilizing,” tremendous sargassum seaweed blooms, and red tide in the Gulf of Mexico and now in the Atlantic. These blooms are giant multi-celled intelligent, organisms, kind of like a bee-hive. They are hungry and determined and we are feeding them.  It is  a vicious cycle that only we can stop by forcing our government to take charge and coordinate municipal, state and federal programs of education and coordinated implementation. We know what to do.

Developing an effective strategy for reducing the impacts of nutrients, easier understood as “fertilizer over enrichment,” requires all of us to change how we live and the powerful agriculture industry to lead.

Otherwise, it is, and will remain, death by fertilizer.

National Research Council’s book, written in 2000, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution is a step by step guide to this problem:


SFWMD 2005


EPA, Nutrient Pollution:

2018 Palm Beach Post, Red Tide:

“Red tide was reported on the east coast in 2007 when it spread to the Treasure Coast south from Jacksonville where LaPointe said discharge from the St. John’s River may have aided its growth. LaPointe said this summer’s plethora of sargassum on southeast Florida beaches could feed red tide with a boost of nutrients leeching into the ocean when the seaweed dies.
Red tide is different from the freshwater blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, that has spread in Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie Estuary and the Caloosahatchee River this summer. But red tide and the cyanobacteria both thrive in nutrient-heavy conditions.
“You have discharges coming out the Jupiter Inlet,” LaPointe said. “Red tide likes the kind of slightly reduced salinity in areas where there’s a river plume.”–law/new-stretch-beach-jupiter-closed-police-after-odor-sickens-beachgoers/cVD3CBHqrYDrLCFFDV4T7L/

2018 Sun Sentinel, Lake O toxic algae blooms:

“Lake O and Estuaries’ Blooms: Not that this comes as much of a surprise. (Though state leaders feign shock with each new algae outbreak, as if they’ve just discovered gambling in Casablanca.) Environmental scientists have been warning Florida that the watershed lake was an environmental catastrophe since 1969.” Fred Grimm, reporting.

Close up toxic algae, JTL

2018 Palm Beach Post, Overabundance of Seaweed:

“Palm Beach Post:LaPointe is in the second year of a three-year NASA grant to study how nutrients are changing in the sargassum. What he’s found so far is nitrogen levels have increased, likely from heavy doses of fertilizer and sewage runoff.
“We have altered the nitrogen cycle on our planet and it started with the invention of fertilizer,” LaPointe said. “We think this is what is behind the increased abundance of sargassum.”

Red tide 2018 #toxic18 site
Plethora of sargassum weed or seaweed at Jensen Beach, 2018 photo Ed Lippisch

Phosphorus Loading by Land Use, What FDEP is not Telling Us, 2018, Gary Goforth:

11 thoughts on “Death by Fertilizer, SLR/IRL

  1. Over the next couple of weeks if you watch you will see how quickly sea weed “burns” up . The acid in sea weed will react with the calcium shell base. When it rains the calcium peroxide from this reaction is what cleans any toxic chemicals up. Historicly this same reaction is what cleaned the shores of our lagoon.Before they removed it all. Things are looking good here—manitees are all fat.

  2. Went to our brown bag event at our lagoon house today. Today a lady that I talked with a couple of years ago talked about her project of bringing back sea grass. She said now that there is a lot of money to restore the lagoon(half a billion dollars) people do not work togather and share information. She did say that she remembers how it was in the 50s and 60s and she just wants it back like it was. What amazes me about this whole ordeal is the skill with which 4 out of 5 of our county commissioners turned this into a big money makeing event. It was like leading a sheep to be slaughtered. only we the taxpayers are the sheep.

  3. Jacqui, any thoughts on the sewer vs. septic debate in Sewall’s Point these days? I thought the opportunity to hookup to sewer was a no-brainer but the number of political signs and door-to-door visits by commissioner candidates seem to indicate residents are in favor of sticking with septic systems.

    1. I believe this opportunity will come back around. Must wait though for state and local elections to get a read. I wish it had moved forward but the communication with public was poor. This is so important.

  4. Instead of trying to understand and marvel at the creations of this world people allway tend to waunt to control — destroy and shape things the way they think they should be. Sargassum sea weed has been around a long time. I am sure baby sea turtles and many other creatures have learned to make their home in it. In the 1800’s sailing ships would get stuck in it. Fishermen know when you find a weed line your day on the ocean is not wasted—you will find fish and life.The hell we have created in the lagoon is our own doing . Instead of tyring to understad the coquina shell formation and the role they played we grabbed them and paved roads and made concrete. We created an acid hell on earth were toxic chemicals are preserved in acid waitind to be unleased when the acid is nutrilized. Even now the hydrogen peroxide they are spraying to kill algae is probably creating the demoic acid in red tide. Eventually a tsunami will rip across the barrier islands but for now the best we can do is put the coquina shell back where it was taken from. To save the few remaining creatures we have left.

  5. like a baby kangaroo –even blind– knows to crawl into its mothers pouch for a safe secure home I believe baby sea turtles some how know at birth that there is a safe secure home out in the middle of a vast dangerous sea waiting for them and that home I believe is the sargassum sea weed. But through some peoples eyes sargassum sea weed is just the result of nutriant pollution. Unfortunatly it is this same twisted way of thinking that has killed and will keep killing our lagoon.

  6. I am so ticked of with the lieing stealing politicians here in Brevard I need to just put on my facemask and go under water for a few days.

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