Category Archives: aerial photos

Seagrasses? Algae? Who Wins?

The Crossroads off Sewall’s Point in the confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. In 2019, seagrasses can be seen returning to an area that was post-2013, 2016, and 2018  a desert of sand. 8-3-19 photos by Scott Kuhns.

On August 3rd, I posted the above aerial noting the return of visible recovering seagrasses since the ACOE stopped discharging from Lake Okeechobee.

One of my readers wrote: “Most is not true seagrass, some algae’s, discolored sand. A little shoal grass here and there. It’s gonna take a few years of no discharges.”

And this is true. Seagrass is growing back, but right alongside, or even on the algae itself, is something else. A type of dark green, slimy-algae covering the grasses. I don’t remember it like this before…

We are living in a time of over-nitrification. Too much Phosphorus and Nitrogen drains off the land into the estuary feeding algae of all kinds as they compete for dominance.

And we decide who wins:

~A great video shared by my brother Todd covering the story of all types of algae and cyanobacteria.

 

8-3-19 Scott Kuhns what do you see?
8-3-19 Scott Kuhns looks back towards Stuart from St Lucie Inlet area. Area to right was once famous for its rich seagrass beds.

I have seen the microalgae growing back on our seagrasses in the SLR/IRL, and it has been here for years; it is just getting more dominant. I have not photographed as doing so requires a protected camera. Thus I am sharing these photos that in some ways resemble our beds.

Seagrass growing with microalgae: photo SeaGrant: https://seagrant.noaa.gov/News/Article/ArtMID/1660/ArticleID/357/Quantifying-Nitrogen-in-Shellfish-Helps-Planning-Efforts-on-Cape-Cod-
Example of seagrass and microalgae USGS public domain. https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/macroalgae-seagrass-and-litter-oh-my

A Summer Day Without Lake Okeechobee Discharges, 2019

7-28-19

Today,  Ed and I document a summer day along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon without Lake Okeechobee discharges. ACOE, we are grateful! J&E

The Crossroads between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point, the confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Seagrasses returning…
Hutchinson Island south of the St Lucie Inlet, home of the northern reefs. Color- blue not brown!
The St Lucie Inlet looking beautiful.
Sailfish Point at the St. Lucie Inlet, blue and turquoise meet.
Sailfish Point along the ocean with Sailfish Flats and Sewall’s Point in background.
Sailfish Flats east of Hutchinson Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Ed and I could not fly over IRL here due to air traffic, so I could not get up close pictures. But the color certainly looks better!
Turquoise ocean but lots of sargassum weed! Turtles and manatees were present.
Just north of Martin County, St Lucie County’s Hutchinson Island beaches with super density Nettles Island visible in a blue looking Indian River Lagoon.
Hutchinson Island and IRL in St Lucie County
Indian River Lagoon with good visibility as discharge water is not being pushed up north through the IRL in Martin County.
IRL St Lucie County, good visibility and some seagrasses.
IRL St Lucie County looking to the Savannas.
A clearer IRL due to lack of discharges from Lake O. The most suspended sediment comes into the SLR/IRL from Lake O. St Lucie County. As I said earlier the tower would not allow Ed and I to fly over the S. IRL in Martin County due to air traffic. We will have to get it another time.
IRL near St Lucie Power Plant
Nettles Island
Back south, looking over Indian Riverside Park and the Penninsula of Sewall’s Point. IRL on left. St Lucie River on right. St Lucie Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean in distance.
St Lucie River, Langford Landings docks, with Roosevelt Bridge and Stuart in distance.

 

St Lucie River, west side of Sewall’s Point
Wide St Lucie, Roosevelt Bridge, Rio, and Stuart.
Wide St Lucie looking west towards Lake Okeechobee.
Ed and Jacqui -seven years older since the first “lost summer” of photographing in  2013 ~never giving up!
The Super Cub!

 

Army Corps of Engineers’ February 2019 operational change press release for Lake Okeechobee and the Estuaries. This operational decision continues to affect operations this summer: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1764322/corps-takes-action-to-lower-lake-okeechobee-in-advance-of-wet-season/

Kissimmee River Fly-Over; What Men Do They Can Undo

Yesterday, due to presidential Temporary Flight Restrictions, Ed and I decided to fly to the interior of the state and photograph the Kissimmee River. It was a beautiful day, but very bumpy up there.

Looking down at take off, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon appeared dark-colored as the ACOE has been discharging to the river through C-44 from Lake Okeechobee since February 24, 2019 in an attempt to get the lake lower for hurricane season. It has also rained recently so there is canal (C-23; C-24 & C-25) and other runoff mixed in with the Lake O water. As we know, the “throat of our river was cut by these canals…” (https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1791397/corps-adjusts-lake-o-releases-to-caloosahatchee-over-next-two-weeks/)

Within minutes, Ed and I had passed the Savannas, City of Port St Lucie, and were flying over sprawling agricultural lands, and then the northern diked region of Lake Okeechobee ~where the Kissimmee River meets the lake.

Today we will share photos of the approximate twenty-two miles of the Kissimmee River floodplain, once channelized, that is now being restored by the ACOE and SFWMD.

The map image below shows in detail the different parts of the floodplain-river, and its “de-construction.” For me, the Kissimmee is a the greatest example of Stuart News’ editor Ernie Lyons’ famous words: “What men do, they can undo,” as channelization in the late 1960s, was immediately recognized as an ecological disaster and people began lobbying Congress for change. Sometimes, I guess, we learn the hard way…but at least we learned. Thank you to all those who have been part of this restoration!

http://www.ces.fau.edu/riverwoods/kissimmee.php

https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1432/ML14328A488.pdf

https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/kissimmee-river

 

PART1

These five photos below show take-off from Witham Field in Stuart over Sewall’s Point, the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. The last two photos are the North Fork of the SLR and Port St Lucie.

 

PART 2

The next six photos are the northern part of Lake Okeechobee. There is a lot of vegetation in this area that is sometimes submerged. These areas are important for bird life.

 

PART 3

Below we start at the still channelized mouth of the Kissimmee River entering Lake Okeechobee. As we approached the restored area, birds were flying down below, white against green, having returned to their historic nesting grounds: https://www.sfwmd.gov/news/nr_2018_0329_2017_sfwbr

~I created a self-made map to show where I took photos; (BETWEEN THE ARROWS). You will see pictures going form south to north.

Documenting the Discharges, 3-17-19

*Please note all comments become public record.

1.Ed and the Super Cub 2019. Our “eye in the sky” since 2013.
2.Tip of South Sewall’s Point looking north to Hell’s Gate. Witham Field, Stuart, west.

We continue to document the discharges…

Yesterday, 3-17-19, my husband, Ed, flew the Super-Cub over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon ~ twenty-one days after the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee on February 24, 2019.

When Ed arrived home, I asked, “So how was it?”

“Brown,” he replied.

“Like dark coffee brown, or kind of like that weird mixed greenish-brown?”

He looked at me, and smiled. “Jacqui, it was brown.”

“OK, I said, I’ll take a look at your photos.”

So here are the photos from Ed’s flight from Witham Field in Stuart, over Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island, then out west  to S-80 to see the “Seven Gates of Hell” where you can see the one gate discharging now at an average of 250 cubic feet per second, down from an average of 500 cubic feet per second. As you can see from the SFWMD chart below, there has been other runoff locations as well, but the majority is from Lake Okeechobee.

ACOE Press Release: 3-14-19, ACOE, showing decision to go to 250 cfs to SLR/IRL. ACOE says they are “pulse releasing,” however, these are not the “pulse releases” we are familiar with during prior discharge destruction events, as the number never goes to 0, it just goes up and down. https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1784910/corps-to-continue-lake-o-release-plan-with-minor-adjustments/

Thank you to my husband Ed, for showing us that right now, the river is brown.

ACOE, Periodic Scientists Call, 3-12-19, http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

 

3. Approaching the SL Inlet, algae covered remaining seagrass beds
4.Sandbar formation inside of SL Inlet
5.Blurry but shows boats at the Sandbar and that weird green brown color
6.Sailfish Point and SL Inlet algae covered remaining seagrass beds
7. Ernie Lyons Bridge, IRL with SL inlet and Hutchinson Island in distance
8. S-80 along C-44 Canal or the Seven Gate of Hell, boats going through locks, “250” cubic feet per second coming though

The following phots are of Caulkins Water Farm, a former orange grove that died due to citrus greening that now holds water from the C-44 Canal. This is a wonderful thing! As local ag-man Mr. Hadad, told me once, “Jacqui we spent 100 years taking the water off the land, and we’ll spend the next 100 years putting it back on.” The later photos are of S-80 again with view of C-44 canal leading west to Lake O.(https://www.facebook.com/CaulkinsWaterFarm/)

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The following photos are when Ed headed back to Witham Field going once again over the St Lucie Inlet over the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the water looks blue north of Sailfish Point north of the inlet with nearshore reefs visible. Plume is also visible south of St Lucie Inlet. Also in photos is the winding Jupiter Narrows and St Lucie River in the area of Stuart and Rio. You can see Langford Landing with scraped orange soil and docks built into river still under construction since 2015.

Thank you to my husband Ed, our eye in the sky!

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Temporary Flight Restriction, no Documenting the Discharges this past weekend, SLR/IRL

*Please note comments become public record.

Temporary Flight Restrictions were in place this weekend as President Trump and the First Lady were visiting their home, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach. The restrictions go right up to the edge of Stuart, thus it was not possible to fly into the Crossroads or St Lucie Inlet to continue documenting the discharges that began on February 23, 2019.

Instead, today, I am posting  a link to an article by Tyler Treadway of TCPalm entitled:

If Army Corps stops Lake Okeechobee discharges soon, St. Lucie River Suffers Little Harm. It states:

“Two weeks of Lake Okeechobee discharges haven’t caused much damage to the St. Lucie River estuary, but an environmental expert says extending the releases much longer could be devastating.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which started discharging lake water to the river estuary Feb. 25 at an average daily rate of about 323 million gallons, plans for the releases to continue at least until March 16.

They’d better not last much longer, said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart.”

Full article: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2019/03/08/lake-okeechobee-discharges/3058538002/

From what I understand the releases are scheduled for 21 days which would put them through around March 15, 2019.

Ed did fly to Zephyr Hills near Tampa, so I asked him to take photos of that trip. Below you can see Moore Haven, S-308 Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee, and other aerials of interest. Ed said he saw no cyanobacteria or blue-green algae in Lake Okeechobee.

 

Link to TFR: https://contentsharing.net/actions/email_web_version.cfm?ep=vqM2fy2Ox3oo9a147CjVbkrn0IwxwCFcFsGjQGPffFSuxLqprS7UmNebRP1WKNSpmESJaQbSeNkWzNzkVbOhe990ltCQy62JQYPbMjyXjRjnBFTvJig3MX3kqpGJ25BT

S-308 at Port Mayaca, going to C-44 and SLR.
Near Moore Haven where canal goes to Calooshatchee, near S-79.
Somewhere on the way to Tampa region.
Over Lake O.
Looks like part or Restored Kissimmee River above Lake O, with canal.
Flood plain
Lake O again
C-44 canal, FPL pond, heading to Stuart. S-308 just being passed at Port Mayaca, Lake O.

 

Near Tampa, Zephyr Hills area – area one sees what looks like phosphate ponds, mines this is a big issue for water quality for rivers like the Peace and others in Central Florida.

Ed and I will try for an update of the discharges next week!

To Have Wings, SLR/IRL

*Please note comments become public record

Some months ago, the original “River Warrior” Piper Cub was replaced with a Super Cub. Because the Super Cub is so much more powerful, more like a helicopter, it is much windier in the back of the plane, where I sit. I almost dropped my beloved iPhone, many times, before I gave up….

(Farewell Old Friend: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/yellow-cub-plane/)

I have had to replace my lightweight and versatile iPhone with a “real” camera as the weight of the camera is stabilizing. Today, I share some of my other aerials of the St Lucie/IRL Region from 3-2-19, taken with this heavier camera.  I thank my husband Ed for “giving me wings.” Over the coming months, as I adapt, we shall begin to document all of Florida’s east coast. First, here’s home!

Photo Ed Lippisch, Jacqui with new camera over barren seagrass beds, Sailfish Flats.
Looking towards North Hutchinson Island, nearshore reefs, JTL
Sailfish Point at St Lucie Inlet, JTL
Atlantic Ocean looking east, JTL
IRL and Jensen Beach Bridge, looking east, JTL
Hutchinson Island, Sailfish Point, IRL, Sewall’s Point in distance. Sailfish Flats lie between. JTL
Barren Sailfish Flats, JTL
Indian River Plantation and Cove, Marriott, JTL
IRL, St Lucie Power Plant in background. JTL
IRL- Birds on a sandbar? No, a regatta! JTL
The Savannas, near Jensen, behind Indian River Drive, JTL
Savannah Road and US 1 leading to St Lucie River’s Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, JTL
Expanding Town of Ocean Breeze Park, IRL, JTL
Rio/Jensen, Warner Creek, peninsula of Sewall’s Point, Stuart proper and airport, JTL
Destructive C-23 canal separating Martin and St Lucie Counties across from North River Shores, SLR, JTL
Dixie Highway and train track, JTL
US 1
Roosevelt Bridge, discharges from LO coming through –  see sediment…

Circling back over the IRL and US Sailing Center’s regatta, a beautiful sight!

The remaining photos are coming in for landing circling over the St Lucie at Roosevelt Bridge and developed lands…

Looking towards Palm City over SLR

Please note all comments become part of the Public Record.

500cfs from Lake O, Documenting the Discharges 3-1-19, 3-2-19

*All comments become public record.

Last week, on Friday, the ACOE announced in order to lower Lake O for wet season,  it would begin discharging for the next 21 days from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon with an average of 500 cubic feet per second through S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam.

My husband, Ed, and I took aerial photos at the beginning of these discharges on 2-24-19; we continue our documentation today, and in the future. The first set below was taken on Friday, March 1st around 3pm. The second on Saturday, March 2, around 12:30 pm. In both cases, it was an incoming tide ~with more sunshine on Saturday. Obviously, one can see negative changes in water-color and clarity after one week of discharges.

Your eye in the sky,

Jacqui & Ed

ACOE website and press release on discharges to the SLR and Caloosahatchee: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1764322/corps-takes-action-to-lower-lake-okeechobee-in-advance-of-wet-season/

 

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

Set #1, 3-1-19, 3:10pm  Ed Lippisch all photos

In this photo one can see the airstrip at Witham Field with flight going over Crossroads of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon as confluence meets at Sewall’s Point flowing out to St Lucie Inlet at Hutchison Island. The bare sand was formerly rich seagrass beds that have been devastated by the discharges. All photos are taken in this area of the St Lucie Inlet.

 

Set #2, 3-2-19, 12:45 pm Ed Lippisch

Plume south of St Lucie Inlet

You can click here to see what it looked like after one day on 2-24-19 to compare to what river near confluence looked like after being dumped on for one week: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2019/02/25/documenting-the-discharges-slr-irl-2-24-19/