Nature is full of surprises that amaze and inspire…
But sometimes we have to LOOK.
I wanted to share these wonderful nature photos taken by my brother Todd, March 28, 2020, near the House of Refuge and the Crossroads of the St Lucie River-Indian River Lagoon. Birds, blue water, and for me, the best of all, the determined eyes of this handsome brown-orange colored fighting conch? Incredible!
This post is a precursor, as later this week I will begin a water quality series that will open our eyes to a “better water future.”
How so? ~My brother Todd Thurlow, creates water quality maps with the help of Dr Gary Goforth and these maps really give insight into nutrient pollution and how it gets into our state waters. I will be sharing and explaining these maps. I figure many of us have some time as most of us are at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. ” We can learn something while doing the right thing for our country.
~Until then, enjoy Todd’s photos, and may we all, human and mollusk alike, keep our eyes out and keep fighting for a better water future!
Fighting Conch in area of the Crossroads, Martin County, FL ~always return sea snails to the water!
HOUSE OF REFUGE, BLUE KEY, CLEAN WATER #LakeO discharge free ~going on 2 years….
A BROWN PELICAN DIVES FOR FISH NEAR INDIAN RIVER PLANTATION, MARRIOTT
A TALL LEGGED “SANDPIPER” FEELS FOR FOOD (WILLET) 🙂
After almost two years of no discharges from Lake Okeechobee and minimal rain in the past couple of months, Martin County’s waters are clearer than any time I have documented from 2013. Yesterday’s tail-end flight, 3-25-20, took Ed and I north along the coast from Bridge Road in Hobe Sound, to the St Lucie Inlet in Stuart.
For the first time I can ever remember, Ed and I could CLEARLY see the reefs below a sapphire-turquoise sea. We were amazed. “Can you believe this?” Ed and I repeated again and again during the windy flight. It was crystalline.
Yesterday’s fly-over was a sight for sore eyes; I am thankful for this time of healing for our ecosystem.
Below: SEWALL’S POINT as we approach Witham Field in Stuart. Sewall’s Point is a peninsula lying between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. The nearby St Lucie Inlet is the confluence of these two waterbodies that take on the discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Great to have a break!
“The donor is William Shanley who used to live in the Stucco house across from the Quisenberry property on Sewall’s Point. He was in real estate and he and Dan Deighan bought the Real Estate office of C. O. Rainey on Colorado Blvd. that had the aerials on the wall.”~Historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow
When my mom handed me the original photograph my jaw dropped. The photo is huge, 16 x 20 inches, its unique perspective capturing at least thirty miles from the South Fork of the St Lucie River west to Lake Okeechobee!
This style of photograph looks like it was made using a plane and camera typical of the WWII era. These cameras were used after the war to help promote development especially here in Florida.
Even though taken sixty-one years ago, the photo reveals many familiar landmarks that define Martin County today, or once did: the winding South Fork of the St Luice River; the St Lucie Canal (C-44) connecting Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork; the dreaded St Lucie Locks and Dam (S-80); Highway 76 running from Stuart all the way to the Lake; the Florida Turnpike; Lake Okeechobee itself; the straight east west lines of Cove and Salerno Roads, the tropical fish farm between the two, and Paulson Road -today, near the bridge at Halpatiokee Park.
In modern times, development covers much of the wetlands in the forefront of the photo but back then….Harris Ranch, a beautiful area, along Roebuck Creek, sold in 1972; and good old fashioned Florida farms are also part of the historic mosiac. The most prominent farming taking place atop the high Green Ridge near Indiantown -at the sharp west turn of the St Lucie Canal.
This morning, Ed and I had some time, so we flew the “River Warrior” to get a glimpse of the modern view in mom’s photograph. An iPhone and an open air plane at 1000 feet wasn’t the same as a high flying spy plane with advanced camera equipment, but it was great fun to compare. We used the figure eight oxbow in the South Fork as the guide to find our way. It is circled it in red below for you to use too.
Whether 1959 or 2020, looking wide west, remains a sight to see!
~Click on images to enlarge.
Above: Oxbow in red circle above, today clearly seen in aerial Below. You can follow the St Luice Canal, (C-44 Canal) above the oxbow to identify today’s I-95, the Florida Turnpike, and St Lucie Locks and Dam.
Below: Close up, beyond I-95 and Turnpike sits St Luice Locks and Dam.
Flying southwest along most South Fork of the St Lucie River…
Thank you to pilots Scott Kuhns and Steve Schimming for providing a “wider perspective.” This morning, March 18th, their photos reveal an unravaged St Lucie River-Indian River Lagoon ~from 2500feet. These are shots I definitely could not get with my iPhone!
Thank you for the good news that shall be documented for all. ~The St Lucie, Indian River Lagoon -a year and a half into no Lake Okeechobee discharges- looks GREAT!
CROSSROADS ST LUCIE RIVER/INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, ST LUCIE INLET, MARTIN COUNTY, FL
SAILFISH POINT, HUTCHINSON ISALND
THE FAMOUS HOUSE OF REFUGE, BUILT IN 1876, HUTCHINSON ISLAND ocean and IRL
JUPITER NARROWS, INDIAN RIVER LAGOON SOUTH OF ST LUCIE INLET, ST LUCIE INLET STATE PARK
THE ST LUCIE RIVER-INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, COMING BACK, WHEN ALLOWED TO BE, IT IS “THE MOST BIO-DIVERSE ESTUARY IN NORTH AMERICA!”
I have always looked to Nature for inspiration and “regeneration.” A short walk in my yard, my neighborhood, or over the bridge almost always brings positive results.
Today, I wanted to share photos from a recent outing where I unexpectedly came upon a multitude of nine-armed starfish at Stuart Causeway, St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon. I had not seen them for many years during the almost decade of discharges from area canals and especially Lake Okeechobee. To see these striking creatures once again is a very good sign for the recovery of our waterways! And how cool is it that when they lose an arm they can regenerate?
A powerful story indeed!
“The starfish is a resilient creature that constantly regenerates, intuitively navigates the sea, and directly impacts its ecological community. An ancient name for the Virgin Mary, the Star of the Sea symbolizes guidance, intuition, and vigilance.” ~Ancient saying
ST LUCIE INLET STATE PARK, ST LUCIE INLET & SAILFISH POINT, MARTIN COUNTY 3-14/15-2020, photos Ed and Jacqui Lippisch
It is an amazing thing, what happens, when you give something time to heal. Life rises from the ashes, it returns. After some of the worst toxic discharge years -2013, 2016, 2018- the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon in Martin County is healing.
Let’s be clear. ~She is not flush, but she is healing.
Ed and my weekend aerials and boat excursion show absolutely beautiful water and God’s creatures on the rise! Seagrasses, once completely gone, are visible, but dormant from winter months, it still looks pretty barren. Hopefully, upcoming visits to the same area will reveal plush meadows by June or July.
These are awkward and difficult times, with Coronavirus restrictions quickly bearing down on us; so I wanted to share some “good news.”
We must not forget to focus on the gift of blue water and the miracle of resurgent life. Life that always returns if given the chance. ~It is all around us.
SEAGRASS EAST OF SAILFISH POINT & MANY BOATING FAMILIES ENJOYING THE SANDBAR AT CONFLUENCE ST. LUCIE RIVER AND INDIAN RIVER LAGOON
BABY QUEEN CONCH ARE RETUNING TO THE SANDBAR! SUCH BEAUTIFUL COLORS!
BIRD ISLAND, JUST OFF SEWALL’S POINT, SEE THE HUNDREDS OF WHITE SPECKS!
CROSSROADS AREA 2019-20 OFFERS BLUE WATER FLOWING IN FROM INLET RATHER THAN TOXIC BROWN OUTGOING FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE WORSENED BY AREA CANALS
SOUTH- DOWN JUPITER NARROWS -PASSING ST LUCIE INLET STATE PARK & ARRIVING AT PECK’S LAKE ~A CONTINUATION OF THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON. ~SLOW SPEED ZONES, MANY OSPREYS, JUMPING FISH, A FEW MANATEES &DOLPHINS. PEACE AND QUIET. ~SO NICE TO RETURN AT SUNSET KNOWING LIFE IS SLOWLY RETURNING TO THE ST LUCIE. LIFE RETURNS.
My husband Ed’s aerials of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon show a positive picture of area waters that in 2013, 2016, and 2018 were black and green with the repeated bruises of Lake Okeechobee’s toxic algae blooms. This is not the case last year in 2019, and so far in 2020. We must celebrate these wonderful times for our waters by enjoying them. Healthy breezes float by, fish are jumping, and a blue lavender sky beckons you…
Most important, sea grasses are recovering. ~Although dormant in winter like the plants in our yards, they bloom forth now; “spring has sprung!” Signs of life are everywhere from pink and orange, protected baby queen conch at the Sandbar, to 9 armed starfish walking about, and even the recent rare sighting of critically endangered Right Whales, ~a mother with her calf swam slowly across St Lucie Inlet. Thank God the water was clean!
We are thankful for these times of bluer and clearer water and we will never give up the fight! Enjoy the the flight and if you can, go visit our beautiful river.
~STARTING OUT AT C44STA/RESERVOIR, WESTERN MARTIN COUNTY, this project cleans water from the C-44 Canal before it enters the SLR
~FLYING EAST OVER THE TOWN OF SEWALL’S POINT and HUTCHINSON ISLAND provides a familiar view of the confluence of the St Luice River and Indian River Lagoon where the water bodies converge to exit at the St Lucie Inlet. Although the upper St Lucie is always ailing from years of damage, the lower St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon is very flushed by the sea. Seagrasses in the area of the Sandbar and Sailfish Flats have been dormant during winter months and are blooming out now-just like plants and flowers in our yards. It will be important to compare these photos to summer to see true recovery.
~FLYING SOUTH ALONG ST LUCIE INLET STATE PARK, JUPITER ISLAND and then swinging north we see Hutchinson Island’s Bathtub Beach, being restored AGAIN, the 1876 House of Refuge where the mother Right Whale and calf were just a couple of weeks ago, and the nearshore reefs VISIBLE and not under black green toxic water.
In the 1970s, my girl scout troop often spent the night in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. At the time, almost all of Martin County was undeveloped so it really didn’t hit me – the value in this very special place.
We girls collected dried flowers, seeds, and grasses to be bound with ribbons and given to our mothers; we lay our packs on bunk beds in musty cabins; we hiked through the pines; we sat around the campfire telling ghosts stories and speaking of bears until too scared to sleep; we sat in a rare silence, together, staring at the bright stars while eating marshmallows…
Last weekend, I went back to Jonathan Dickinson ~45 years later, this time with my husband Ed, and our dog, Luna.
Although I have aged, the place was even more beautiful! Almost immediately, I knew that even though I hadn’t walked it’s piney paths in such a long, long time, it had been an inspiration all my life. A seed growing within me.
Ed and I chose to walk the trail of Kitching Creek. My attention was captured by the beauty of the small flowers and I took as many pictures as I could. Slash pine trees abounded, like sentinels, second generation, the magnificent virgin forest cleared in the the 1920s. Woodpeckers flew from tree to tree looking for insects or maybe a place to set up house. Ed walked far ahead with Luna, stopping every time he came upon a number; I would catch up and read aloud from a pamphlet available at the trail head.
On our walk, I recognized some of the same grasses I used for my bouquet in 1974. But I knew this time I would not pluck them from the Earth, but take them to heart as inspiration in our fight for clean water, -the St Luice and Loxahatchee-, and the future of Florida.
~I then I realized that long ago, I already had.
Before drainage there were times the surrounding wetlands, the St Luice, and the Loxahatchee Rivers were wet enough that people could paddle between them. Today the Loxahatchee suffers from too little water and the St Lucie too much.
Historic 1909 Drainage Map- Kissimmee and Caloosahatchee Rivers, and Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Captain J.R. Slattery, Corps of Engineers U.S. Army.
This post is for the map lover!
Realtor, Stephen Dutcher, shared this 1909 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers War Department Map with my historian mother years ago. To see in all detail click again to enlarge image.
The patient viewer will be amazed at the simple black and white map’s level of detail.
You’ll see the documentation of the upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes being drained and connected via canals, as was the condition of Lake Okeechobee west to the Caloosahatchee River. However, at this time, looking east, there was no connecting canal from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River!
Reading between the lines, one notes words not of agriculture or development but of Nature: “Pine; marsh; prairie; pine slough; cane slough; cypress; ponds…” many colors, full of birds and wildlife!
~Studying near today’s Stuart, the discerning eye will see that the famous Allapattah Flats ran from the upper St Johns River basin near Ft. Pierce south many, many miles, all the way to the headwaters of the St Luice River! These clear waters flowed not into the Atlantic Ocean through the St Lucie Inlet as this sandbar was closed, but rather traveled north through St Lucie Sound (today’s Southern Indian River Lagoon) emptying at Ft. Pierce Inlet.
~The haunting names of the lakes reflect Indian wars of the past: Tohopekaligo, Kissimmee, Hicpochee, Hatcheneha, just to name a few. In neat, handwritten print, a chart at the bottom of the page juxtaposes the levels of the lakes, “Ordinary Low Water” to “Extremely High Water” revealing depths certainly not found today.
~Lake Okeechobee? 20.6 to 24.4 feet!
~And in closure, the eye sweeps south; an open Everglades lies unmapped. A mystery for another day…
So 110 years of “progress” has slipped by, the stately virgin pines have been harvested, the coastlines scraped and modernized, the marshes, lakes, and rivers drained, and the prairies converted to pasture and farmland, but looking at this map, we can dream. We can dream beyond black and white~of what our dear Florida looked like, before she was changed…
In early 2020 Right Whale sightings were reported along the northeastern coast of Florida apparently this year the whales are taking their young further south…
Right Whale with Calf Travels past the House of Refuge, Martin County (NMFS/NOAA permit No. #19674 by Jim Moir)
Today’s photos may be the most wonderful I have ever had the privilege to share. Researcher, Jim Moir, for years has told me stories about his experiences at sea untangling and assisting the most critically endangered whale species on Earth, the North Atlantic Right Whale. Named the Right Whale because for yesteryears’ whaling industry, they were the “right” species to kill; they remain on the brink of extinction today with an estimated 400 remaining, visiting Florida’s waters usually north of Cape Canaveral, only to bear their young.
A a recent Rivers Coalition meeting Jim said “Hey Jacqui, I’ve got to show you something.” He took out his cell phone and showed me a photo of a mother Right Whale and Calf swimming past the House of Refuge in Martin County. My jaw dropped. “Are you kidding me? ” I almost screamed. “Here in Martin County? I didn’t think they came down this far.” Jim just smiled.
I was completely blown away. What a picture!
Today, I along with others in the press share Jim’s photographs of these incredible mythical creatures living day-to-day, struggling for their lives in a changing world that you and I hold in our hands. In my conversations with Jim I came to understand that perhaps we all must modify our behaviors and attitudes if these great creatures are to avoid extinction. Plastics, boat collisions, human harassment, and how we treat our planet. Climate Change not only affects human food sources, the animals too.
I am including some of Jim and my exchange below. Thank you Jim Moir! What special pictures!
Hi Jacqui, I’ve got clearance to release some whale photos. I’m about to leave for St. Pete and I haven’t been able to process the photos in order to affix a watermark “taken under NMFS/NOAA permit No. #19674 under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the U.S. Endangered Species Act.” I will release the photos to the media with that watermark. You’re right about needing to balance research protection and public information/education. One of the biggest local threats are curiosity seekers hoping for an interesting selfie or social media post and inadvertently harassing the animals. These are the most critically endangered great whale species they are 50 ton mommas nurturing their infant babies (2-4 ton babies) they are not feeding so unlike sea turtles or rays they are unlikely to signal schools of Cobia or other sport fishes. Boaters are legally prohibited from approaching closer than 500 yards. If the animals approach them or they accidentally get too close the should (if safe to do so) go engine off, and enjoy a memorable experience. Call FWC and MRC. Under no circumstances should anyone consider touching or swimming with these wild mothers and their infant calves a swipe of their tail or head on collision have been fatal. These animals are the size of semi tractor trailers. And incredibly powerful. They occasionally come this far south but usually stay north of Cape Canaveral. There are fewer than 400 of these animals left their problem is us, fishing gear entanglement and collisions with vessels killed more each year than are born extinction is a very real outcome Florida waters are the only known calving grounds. They eat coepepods in New England and Canada. There are 11 other species of whale and dolphins that live around Florida too. ~Jim
Jim thanks so much! I promise to be very careful, mindful, and respectful with how I post. I in no way would wish to endanger these very endangered species. I will be sure that the public knows how critically endangered the whales are and that they must be left alone to survive and successfully raise their claves. The permit for the photographs will be displayed. Thank you Jim ~Jacqui
Sign as displayed as Stuart Causeway along the Indian River Lagoon close to St Lucie Inlet.
The Remarkable Restoration of the Kissimmee River, a Modern Flyover
Recently, I featured my brother Todd Thurlow’s extremely popular time capsule flight, “The Destruction of the Kissimmee River.” Today, I present the remarkable antithesis, “Restoration of the Kissimmee River.”
As Todd notes, Kissimmee restoration began in 1999 with phases 1 and 4 completed first. Phases 2 and 3 are expected to be completed by 2020. You will see as you travel up the winding river the long gash of the C-38 Canal backfilled with the same soils that were dug from its own flesh, and the winding oxbows, like capillaries, filling-up to come back to life!
Here’s a map to reference. Amazing! This restored habitat will help replenish wading bird communities and naturally filter water as it flows south to Lake Okeechobee rather than mainlining pollutants. My favorite shot comes at the end where an aerial view of gigantic dump trucks looks like a collection of children’s toys. We can now begin to grasp the scale of this massive project!
When we watch this video we know Ernest Lyons’ words “what men can do, they can undo,” is no longer just a saying, but a reality and we are empowered to do the same! Please click on image with arrow or link below.
This video compares 1940 and 1999 aerials of the Kissimmee River with current Google Earth Imagery to show The Kissimmee River Restoration project, which began in 1999. Phases 1 and 4, at the northern end of the project, were completed in 2010. Phases 2 and 3, on the southern end, are expected to be completed in 2020. When finished, the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District will have restored 44 miles of winding river, over 12,000 acres of wetlands and 40 square miles of floodplain. ~Todd Thurlow
My mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, sent me this remarkable 1911 magazine promoting the wonders of the Kissimmee Valley as seen in 1911; I think you’ll enjoy it too! Click on images to enlarge and view as gallery. Magazine is organized into four sections due to length. After viewing gallery section, X out in upper right corner to be able to enter next galley section.
KISSIMMEE VALLEY GAZETTE, 1911
I have this over-size magazine published in 1911. Since you are working on the Kissimmee it might interest. Believe it or not, there is an aerial of Lake Tohopekaliga–oblique. I wonder why Miami is misspelled on “Miam” on map page 9? Notice no St. Lucie Canal. Interestingly, P. A. Vans Agnew ended up here and was involved in the formation of Martin County. ~Mom