Category Archives: Florida Bay

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. 

Overview of Florida Bay’s Water Problems and How They Are Connected to Ours, SLR/IRL

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Florida Bay algae bloom, photo Captain Daniel Andrews at 1500 feet, Dec. 20, 2016

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…

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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

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Photo courtesy of Captain Daniel Andrews, Captains For Clean Water

* Florida Park Service, Everglades National Park

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Captain Daniel Andrews can be contacted at:https://captainsforcleanwater.org

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