Category Archives: aerial photos

SLR/IRL up to 7000 feet

~Documenting the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon. Sewall’s Point, Ed and my home, lies between the St Lucie & Indian River Lagoon. My husband, Ed Lippisch, flew high, up to 7000 feet, to take photos of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and S-80 (St Lucie Locks and Dam), on Sunday, February 21. The pictures were taken around 2:45pm on a very windy day. (Thus I declined an invitation!) Ed basically made a big circle. 

I am including all 52 photos as each one presents a slightly different perspective. Ed flew from the Crossroads and inlet of the SLR/IRL west to S-80 along the C-44 canal. There he saw no discharges coming through the gates from either the C-44 basin or Lake Okeechobee. Most recently, the ACOE halted discharges on January 9th, 2021 after 3 months of discharging. The river is starting to recover in appearance, but not soul.

Today, Lake Okeechobee is at 15.42 feet.

Tomorrow at 3pm the ACOE will hold a media call to announce their operational decisions for the coming week/s. James Yochem, spokesman for the Corp, has shared the following media advisory. The public usually does not speak on these calls but can listen-in. 

MEDIA ADVISORY:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will conduct a briefing with interested media representatives regarding water management for Lake Okeechobee and south Florida. The media briefing will be held Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.

Please join the call using this information:

US Toll Free    844-800-2712
Access code     199 453 9583

If you are asked for an attendee ID number, dial #

It is very important that we are paying attention to “all things river”and “speaking up for the St Lucie” when possible as we approach wet and hurricane seasons. 

Thank you Ed for the recent aerials!

~To view Ed’s photo essay documentation prior to this one on February 3, 2021, see Milky Waters!

~To review what happened to the St Lucie in Toxic 2016, see Too Unthinkable.

About Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 

Milky Waters

~St Lucie Inlet with Crossroads of SLR/ILR at Sewall’s Point Ed’s February 3, 2021 photos of the St Lucie River & Indian River Lagoon at the St Lucie Inlet are unusual. Taken during cold temperatures and windy conditions at 2:15pm – at “dead high tide,” they show the incoming blue waters with a milky quality juxtaposed to the darker estuarine. This combination is one I have never seen, ever. Ed and I have been documenting  since 2013. When I first saw these photos, I posted a few on Facebook stating: “Interesting…”

Later, my brother Todd wrote back: 

“I just saw Ed’s pictures of the river.  When we were out last weekend the St. Lucie was that milky blue.  With the pounding waves offshore, the water was full of suspended sand.  You would think that sand is actually beneficial when it is transported inside the estuaries to settle on top of the muck bottom.  I did YouTube videos of the Bahamas after Dorian when the entire Bahama bank and outer reefs were that same milky blue.”

So that’s what’s going on! Interesting! 

Today I share more of Ed’s recent photos. They are taken from 4000+ feet which gives a much broader perspective and highlights the beauty of the St Lucie Inlet region in spite our struggle to revive our seagrasses and protect our water from discharges, especially those of Lake Okeechobee. On February 3, when these aerials were taken, the ACOE was not discharging having halted January 9th, 2021 after 3 months. At the present moment the ACOE does not have plans to discharge from Lake Okeechobee. The lake is presently sitting at 15.37 feet. 

This could be problematic for the St Lucie come summer…

*Thank you to my husband, Ed Lippisch for taking these photos! 

 

 

The Green Ridge

Although I first took this photo on January 21, 2021 to document the layer of smoke hovering at the horizon due to the burning sugarcane fields, I later noticed the clear aerial composition of the Green Ridge. Thus I share today…

Looking even briefly at the photograph, you will notice that this ridge is scraped flat by agriculture fields and 1-95 swinging over it – to take advantage of the high 30-35 foot topography.

So what is the Green Ridge and why is it important to the St Lucie River?

You may have recently read my post on Allapattah Flats where my brother utilized the map below from a 1960’s U.S.Geological Survey, “Martin County” report, on water resources prepared by William F. Lichtler? This report gives an excellent breakdown on pages 7-11; but even if you don’t read it, you can see it!

The Green Ridge guided waters south as they traveled slowly through the marshy Eastern Flatlands being deepest closest to the Orlando Ridge, Allapattah Flats. (For reference, today Indiantown lies in the southern portion of the Orlando Ridge.)

When the St Lucie Canal, (C-44) was cut ca. 1914-1923 and then deepened, widened, and “improved” many times since, it caused the waters moving southeast to shoot down into the St Lucie. Today, due to agriculture and development, these water are polluted and basically unfiltered and have been allowed to be so for many, many years.

And when Lake Okeechobee is opened into the St Lucie Canal…we all know what happens then. Complete destruction from a water source, Lake Okeechobee, that also was never connected to the St Lucie!

For years I tried to understand the Green Ridge, and it’s importance, now I think I do. In restoring our waters it is helpful to be able to envision how Nature functioned before humans altered the landscape to the point that she is almost unrecognizable. 

-Red baloon designates the Green Ridge

 

Finding the Shark River

When Ed and I recently visited Flamingo and rented a boat to explore White Water Bay, my goal had been to find the Shark River. I never found it…

I had wanted to see this river because although there are many Everglades’ rivers, the Shark is the most associated with Shark River Slough. Even though this slough, this river of grass, has been amputated by the Everglades Agricultural Area, Tamiami Trail, and eastern coastal development, getting waters into Shark River Slough and the Shark River still translates and is actually improving: “Sending Water South.”

So we took a flight…

Ponce de Leon Bay, where much of this water exits, is particularly breathtaking to see. The geometric shapes, shades of green, brown, and blue create a giant puzzle. It makes me want to put all the pieces back tother again.

It was so wonderful to finally find the Shark River!  I wanted you to see it too! The primary goal remains, to send more water south; this we must envision…

-Everglades Rivers flowing southwest out of Shark River Slough 1-21-21, photos JTL&EL -Ponce de Leon Bay where Shark River exits into Florida Bay The Shark River is the primary river you see coming into this area of Ponce de Leon Bay. White Water Bay  is to the right. It all kind of blends together. 

  1. Shark River, red dot follow northeast; 2. Shark River Slough, large most far right area above shark river -seemingly brownish green – running into Shark River 3. Water Water Bay appears as a dark green depression southeast of and connected to the Shark River; 4. Shark River exits at Ponce de Leon Bay into Florida Bay. Florida Bay is in dire need of more fresh water. 

Documenting the Discharges, December 2020

Documenting the Discharges, December 2020

Eyeonlakeo

I posted most of these photos on Facebook, but today I will give explanations and document on my blog. From above, our St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon remains beautiful, but we must be sensitive to the losses beneath the waters. These aerials were taken during  a “slack tide” between 12 and 2pm on December 9, 2020 by my husband, Ed Lippisch. December 9th was the last of five days the ACOE stopped discharging from Lake Okeechobee; however S-80 was discharging “local runoff.” (Click on chart above.) Unfortunately, due to high lake level and lack of storage reservoirs, since these aerials were taken, the ACOE has begun ramping up Lake discharges once again. 

Below Lawrence Glenn of the South Florid Water Management gives a comprehensive ecological report covering low-salinities and loss of oyster spat in the St Lucie and other aspects, positive and negative, for the entire Everglades system.

Below is an explanation of aerials documenting discharges December 9, 2020. All photos by Ed Lippisch.

-S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam discharging local basin S-80 runoff on December 9, 2020

S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee closed on December 9, 2020. No algae visible. 

-Plume of along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet

-Dispersing plume in Atlantic Ocean just past Peck’s Lake in Jupiter Narrows

-St Lucie Inlet -St Lucie Inlet State Park, Sailfish Point, Sewall’s Point, Stuart, Jensen 

-Looking north to Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. This area has greatly degraded since 2013 as far as loss of seagrasses and fishing opportunities 

-The area below, especially around Sailfish Point, was once considered “the most biodiverse estuary in North America” as documented, first, by Grant Gilmore

-This photo reveals seagrass loss across many areas of the Sailfish Flats 

-Another view between Sewall’s and Sailfish Point, a seeming desert…

-Close up, Sailfish Point 

-Sewall’s Point, east Indian River Lagoon 

-Sewall’s Point is a peninsula surrounded by the St Lucie River on west side, and Indian River Lagoon on east side 

Ed Lippisch, selfie. Thank you Ed! 

As you can tell, I have lots of people helping me. Whether it is Ed flying or my brother Todd who provides an incredible easy to read website called EyeonLakeO. You can click below to check it out. The more we know, the more we document, the more we can overturn the destruction of our beloved estuary…

Eyeonlakeo website by my brother, Todd Thurlow. 

The Discharge/No Discharge Difference, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Looking back through my photo library, I was stuck by the color differences between these photos, so I decided to share….

The first two photos were taken recently, Saturday, December 5, 2020, the afternoon of the same morning the ACOE closed S-80 at the C-44 canal, and S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee. This seems a bit quick for improvement, but so it was.

The second two photos were taken almost two months earlier, October 17, 2020 a few days after Lake Okeechobee discharges began and C-44 had already been discharging. 

The first three photos, taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, feature the confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point. The final  October 17 photos shows the plume from Lake O and basin runoff passing Peck’s Lake in the Jupiter Narrows. 

We all await the closing of both structures S-308 and S-80 for good. The issue at hand is always the height of the Lake Okeechobee and the story that accompanies such. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020, photo Ed Lippisch

October 17, 2020, photo Ed Lippisch

ACOE- Lake O discharges began Oct 14, 2020 and have stopped temporarily for 5 days, December 5, 2020. This is the most recent inflow chart, SFWMD.

Basin chart 

SFWMD basin map for SLR showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.

 

Loxahatchee Charts and Aerials, Wild and Scenic River, Fred van Vonno

Wild and Scenic River Studies, ca. 1980, courtesy archives of Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Today, I share “charts” and “aerials” from the archives of the late Fred van Vonno. My mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, was given these materials by Mr van Vonno’s wife, Nicki. Ms van Vonno summarizes her husband’s work below. 

“My husband Fred van Vonno worked as a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior,  National Park Service, Regional Office, Atlanta Ga.  His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails”. My  husband was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies”. -Nicki van Vonno 

We share these photos and materials so that they are available to the public for reference and continued documentation of Martin and Palm Beach counties’ “Wild and Scenic River,” the Loxahatchee. Tomorrow, I will highlight more slides including flora and fauna, river scenes, structures and people. 

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the aerials are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. The aerials are pre-I-95. There are a couple of scenes of Trapper Nelson’s place that are of significance. -Sandra Thurlow 8-20

AERIAL CHARTS

AERIALS

CHARTS

 

 

Lake O Algae Visible Again

You may have seen my most recent Lake Okeechobee post from July 25, 2020? After algae aerials since May 8th, my dear husband, Ed, said he saw no algae. Ed and I had a back and forth -me saying the algae “was hiding.” Hiding in the water column. Ed saying it was gone. Well, guess what? I was correct… 

Today, July 29, only four days later, the cyanobacteria is back. There was one positive to it all. Ed added to his long list of esteemed flight guests, Ft Meyer’s Captains Chris Whitman and Daniel Andrews – the faces of Captains for Clean Water. The east and west coasts of Florida have been advocating together since the days of the Sugarland Rally in 2013. East and west, an important water alliance. 

According to Ed, “the algae was bright and visible over the majority of the western,  and southern-central portion of the lake, but became less dense as one approached Port Mayaca.” 

“Were you surprised the cyanobacteria had returned?” I asked. 

Ed had a very simple answer: “yes.” 

Ed also said it was a great to hosts the Captains. What an honor. 

Below are some of Ed and Captain Daniel’s photographs from Wednesday, July 29, 2020. You will see, with the sun shining, the lake is once again, visibly, full of algae. This is important documentation for the Army Corp of Engineers as we possibly face a very wet weekend. 

Havens and Hoyer diagram from study of cyanophyte movements.Courtesy, Joe Gilio.
Courtesy of Captain Daniel Andrews-off southwestern shore

Courtesy of pilot Ed Lippisch-southern to southwestern shore of L.O.

No Visible Algae in Lake O? Really Hunny?

This past Saturday, July 25, 2020, my husband, Ed, flew across the state to Ft Meyers  to visit pilot and fellow River Warrior, Dave Stone. Along for the ride were two other friends, Scott Kuhns and Don Page. 

Before the men flew off, I asked the question, like a tape-recorded message: “Could you please take some photos of the algae in Lake Okeechobee?”

Sure,” Ed replied. “But we’re just going straight across.”

The afternoon went by, and when Ed returned home, my first question was, “Did you see any algae?”

“No,” he answered. “Didn’t you look at the photos I shared?”

I looked at my phone and clicked on the 52 photos. “No visible algae in Lake Okeechobee? Really hunny?

…Where did you guys fly?”

Ed took a long breath. “I told you Jacqui- straight across.”  

“What was your altitude?” I shot out. 

“About 2000 feet; why are you asking?” Ed looked at me with wide eyes.  

“Were you talking to Scott and Don so much that you didn’t really look?” I inquired. 

Ed looked me straight in the eye: “Jacqui, we were ALL looking. I told you, there was none, zero, nada.”

“Hmm.” I mused. “Why then aren’t there any photos of the central or west side of the lake?” 

“Because there wasn’t any algae!” His final reply.  

So today, I share Ed’s photos.

They highlight Port Mayaca at Lake Okeechobee, C-44 Canal, St Lucie Inlet, Hutchinson Island (with a lot of seaweed), Sailfish Flats (seagrass kind of coming back), and Sewall’s Point (with very little seagrass around Bird Island.) Nonetheless, you’ll see that the water itself looks better all around.

And the algae?

It is wonderful that Ed and his friends saw no visible algae.” Really great.

“Visible” though is the key word here. Cyanobacteria is known for its ability to move up and down in the water column. Sunlight is key. My brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo reveals daily pass satellites Terra, Aqua -there was heavy cloud cover over Lake Okeechobee parts of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

In 2016, the year the lake was 90% covered in algae, Dr Edward Philips of the University of Florida Dept. of Fisheries and Aquatic Science was quoted in an Okeechobee publication. I thought it explained all so well, I wrote it down: 

“Cyanobacteria have gas vesicles which act as buoyancy control devices. The vesicles can be expanded and filled with gas, causing the cyanobacteria to float on the surface, or deflated, which causes the cyanobacteria to descend into the water column. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on.”

No Visible Algae in LakeO? Really Hunny? 

Ed and I will back up in the air again soon! 🙂

~Your Eye in the Sky,

Jacqui and Ed 

Port Mayaca at Lake Okeechobee

C-44 Canal and S-80. Now closed. 

St Luice Inlet and Hutchinson Island