SHELLS COLLECTED FROM THE SHORELINE OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE 4-5-20
With time on my hands, I have started rereading “The Boyer Survey: An Archaeological Investigation of Lake Okeechobee” by Christian Davenport, Gregory Mount and George Boyer, Jr., written in 2011 and begun in 2006. I have written extensively on this publication before and find it one of the best historical accounts of our Great Lake Okeechobee.
What got me thinking about it again was a recent visit with my husband and our dog Luna. While we were there, I saw the wide exposed eastern shoreline of Lake Okeechobee for the very first time. Due to a lake level of about 11.70 feet on April 5th, part of the shoreline was beach like and exposed. I felt compelled to walk on it, and dreamt of what the surrounding may have looked like hundreds of years ago. Of course a true ancient shoreline would have been located further east. Drainage, the Herbert Hoover Dike, and Conners Highway give the illusion that things “always looked this way.”
I was struck by the multitude of small clams shells and snail shells covering the entire shoreline. Some appeared ancient and others not. In any case, I had never seen them before either. They were beautiful even though some were draped in blue-green algae. It was a rare experience. I even found a green piece of “sea-glass along the beach!”
So back to the Boyer Survey. Today for some insight on Lake O’s ancient beach, we will review the Chapter 1, Introduction, of the Boyer Survey. The first paragraph reads:
“The circumstances that led to the Boyer Survey of Lake Okeechobee began in the fall of 2006. South Florida water managers lowered the level of Lake Okeechobee behind the Herbert Hoover Dike in anticipation of a predicted severe hurricane season accompanied by a potentially unprecedented amount of rainfall. Neither the hurricanes not the rainfall materialized. In fact, a severe drought set in. This lowered water levels throughout south Florida and combined with the already lowered water levels of Lake Okeechobee, reduced the lake’s depth from a normal 5.49 to 6.10 m (18-20 feet) to a record low of 2.69m (8.8 feet). (Obviously this the ACOE was not following LORS 2008 at this time.)
A concerned citizen called Palm Beach County in February 2007 to report that ancient human remains and artifacts were exposed on the lakebed…
The Boyer Survey project area is situated in the southeast section of Lake Okeechobee encompassing about 42,092 square miles.
…The lake is a low lying basin with unique features near its south end that helped shape and contain it. These include the Okeechobee Ridge, the Southern Ridge the Spillover Lands, and the fossilized coral ridge.
The Okeechobee Ridge is a sand ridge that extends from the Martin County /Palm Beach county line to just north of Pahokee. This ridge is thought to represent an old shoreline of the lake. The only place there is a gap in the ridge is around the modern hamlet of Sand Cut. Smith (1848) stated only the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee was well defined by a hard sand shore….
A lower lake has positive and negative effects. Let’s look at one that is positive. While it has been documented by the ACOE and SFWMD that record amounts of submerged aquatic vegetation are growing in the north western and western areas of Lake Okeechobee, the eastern shoreline is ailing as the photos below document.
I do hope that one day there will be more of an effort to create a modern eastern shoreline, an Okeechobee Ridge, that mimics the ancient lake okeechobee shoreline as referred to in the historic Lake Okeechobee account of the Boyer Survey. As the lake shells tell, the Okeechobee Ridge is there, somewhere. The eastern beach of Lake Okeechobee must have been miraculous indeed!
8 thoughts on “Lake Shells Tell, the Eastern Beach of Lake O was Miraculous Indeed!”
Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Janet. I do hope you are well at this time. I am so sorry Vero has lost it’s First Lady. She will be missed.
Thanks, Jacqui. When we moved here, 15? years ago, a narrow brown current was visible in the Atlantic, (heading north?) out our 19 story condo window, the first north of Shuckers. I think it was the foul water originating from Lake O? Is there a way the Lake O water can be directed solely south, as I think it was meant to do? Or was it supposed to brim over into the St.Lucie River/Estuary? Ed Killer has explained much to me, and then I discovered your post about when Ken Pruitt wanted to offically name this “the High Tech Coast”. You have taught me so much more, but I am 78, (no smart phone or Facebook, etc.) and the Stuart news gets pretty mad at all the LTE’s my husband and I write. I wonder if some of your photos in their newspapers would increase subscriptions. I am really glad you show them to us. Thanks.
No need to reply really.
Dear Helen, What a pleasure to receive your note! I am so impressed by all the Letters to the Editor you and your husband write and certainly they make a huge difference. This is such a great thing you are doing. I should submit some of Ed and my photos to the paper. It’s one of those things I have thought about but never done. Now I have an inspiration! Thank you. As far as the water. From what I understand most of the discharge that exits through the St Lucie Inlet goes south, very little north up to St Lucie County. This became clearer to me when red tide had come around south Florida from the Gulf of Mexico (2018) and then my brother was showing me on his site http://www.eyeonlakeo how the currents work. In any case, most goes south along the Atlantic east coast. I think you are really asking about Lake Okeechobee water and sending it south through the remnant Everglades to Florida Bay. This is the goal of most everyone. Now it happens in fits and spurts. Due to the Everglades Agricultural Area and development south of the lake this is tricky and a political mine field. The goal of the EAA Reservoir is to be this connection, and Gov DeSantis has made it a priority. In time, it will happen. The SFWMD just got permits to begin the intake canal for the Storm Water Treatment component. A big deal! The Reservoir is scheduled to be completed in 2018 and would very much help be the link to send water south. ~Lake O was never meant to brim over into the St Lucie River. This is a human created situation that has destroyed the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon more than the many other destructive elements that also are part of this ecological disaster. Hope that helps. So great to hear from you! Jacqui
Thanks, and yes, the Stuart news should use some of your photos. Print subscriptions are up to $32? a month, and so many people are unwilling to pay that. I wondered if better photos on the front page, esp. would help. I know you support the reservoir, but with FL’s mushy soils, architect husband does not believe a 37′ wall would hold up. An FPL reservoir like dissolved in 1969? We’ve only been here 15 years, and Ed Killer has told me about all the man-made “digs” that have made the Reservoir necessary, as it would be VERY expensive
to make Lake O as the Creator designed. But the 3 tollways to nowhere are going ahead?
$50 million for Visit FL, etc., as money “earmarked” for FL Forever gets raided, like the housing funds? You don’t have to reply. $33 Billion for NASA this year, to risk more lives in space, more toxins into our water and air, more concrete poured, etc. I’m just depressed, and our last LTE’s have not been printed, and we’re afraid to go on “Facebook”. So, really, just continue your good work, and this 78 year old will TRY to become more technologically competent. Thank you. Again, no need to reply. I’m behind on reading your emails.
Dear Helen, I want to reply! Your LTE may not been published but many will read your comments here. I respect the opinion of your architect husband, but as I have based my loyalties and journey on this reservoir as the turning point for the Everglades and the health of the estuaries, I must stay the course. In any case, more water must flow south for so many reasons. Thank you for your insights and please keep sending! You inspire me!