Tag Archives: Biscayne Bay

“Death in Every Direction,” The State of Florida’s Waters…SLR/IRL

Photo 3-20-16 Facebook SWFL Clean Water Movement- Sarah Joleen / Cocoa Bch
Photo 3-20-16 Facebook, SWFL Clean Water Movement- Sarah Joleen / Cocoa Bch.

North, South, East, West….

You know I have really just about had it. I know you have too.

I am so tired of posting and writing about the sad state of affairs of our state waters. Every direction one turns!

This weekend many photos showed up on Facebook reporting an enormous fish kill in the Central Indian River Lagoon near Melbourne and Cocoa Beach. These photos of hovering and floating fish are very disturbing.

What is even more upsetting is when one considers the state of just about all of Florida’s waters. Is this the same state I grew up in as a child. Really?

To summarize  a few recent, ongoing situations:

CENTRAL INDIAN RIVER LAGOON-experiencing  “brown tide” and fish die off…

NORTHERN LAGOON: 2011-2013 Super Bloom, morality events (both north and central), 60% seagrass die off…

Florida Today: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2016/03/18/report-fish-kill-brevard-county/81992006/ or http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/environment/os-florida-water-catastrophe-statewide-20160304-story.html

–ST LUCIE RIVER/S. INDIAN RIVER LAGOON: repeated discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals have destroyed the heath of the river. It was declared “impaired by the state in 2002. State of Emergency due to Lake O called in Feb. 2016).

(Article: TC Palm: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/indian-river-lagoon/health/lake-okeechobee-discharges-to-st-lucie-river-begin-2a945729-88d4-59b9-e053-0100007fc4eb-367103911.html)

—-CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER  (The western outlet for lake Okeechobee discharges, the river has been straightened, and connected to Lake O. Sometimes suffers from too little fresh water/high salinity. State of Emergency due to Lake O called in Feb. 2016)

Caloosahatchee area photo John Moran 2016.
Caloosahatchee River area, photo John Moran 2016.

(Article: Tampa Bay Times http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/lake-okeechobee-flood-control-creates-environmental-disaster/2270032)

—FLORIDA BAY: over the past few years has lost massive amounts of sea-grasses due to high salinity. When I was just there with my UF NRLI class this year, the bay looked murky. This bay historically received the fresh waters from Lake O.

(Article: Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article37583577.html)

—FLORIDA SPRINGS– Some have gone dry and others are lacking sufficient flow due to aquifer withdrawal. Many have experienced algae blooms. Photographer John Moran has documented their decline.

(Site: http://springsforever.org) or (http://springseternalproject.org)

–LAKE OKEECHOBEE–deluged with water from the mostly straightened Kissimmee River and others. It has been dammed and directed to the northern estuaries.

(State BMAP plan to improve: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/docs/bmap/LakeOkeechobeeBMAP.pdf)

–BISCAYNE BAY has also had seagrass die off and water quality issues/high human impact)

(Article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-noaa-biscayne-bay-20150118-story.html)

Keep documenting. Keep posting. Keep reading. Keep learning…Keep writing your elected officials…

Keep pushing for a better state. A better state of Florida’s waters.

2016 St Lucie River /IRL
2016 St Lucie River/IRL EL/JTL

(Thank you to Ms Bobbi Blodgett for getting me the details on the fish kill photograph.)

Photo 3-20-16 C.IRL fish kill Coco Bch.
Photo 3-20-16 C.IRL fish kill by Saha Joleen, Cocoa Bch.


3-25-16: I am adding this follow up article on the fish kill by Florida Today. The blog was written on 3-21-16. http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2016/03/23/what-we-know—-and-dont-know—-fish-kill/82163574/

Charles Pierce’s Account of the Great Rain of 1884, and How it Relates to the Indian River Lagoon

"End of he Rainbow," South Florida. (Photo by John Whiticar, 2013.)
“End of the Rainbow,” South Florida. (Photo by John Whiticar, 2013.)

As we approach hurricane season, we must prepare for rain. Florida is more like Africa than the rest of the county in that there are really only two seasons: dry and rainy. “Officially,” rainy season runs from June 1st to November 30th, and dry season is from December 1st through the end of May.

One of the most interesting accounts I’ve ever read of a “great south Florida rain” was published in 1886 by pioneer  Charles Pierce, member the famous Hannibal Pierce family, to which our illustrious Indian Riverkeeper, Mr Marty Baum belongs. We along the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon are part of the south Florida great rain system and there are reoccurring themes whether here or farther south, as  l think you’ll see as I share the story.

Charles Pierce is most well known for his book “Pioneer Life in Southeast Florida” written about the years 1870 through 1894, and published by Miami’s University Press in 1970. It is a five star classic. According to a write up on the book, during this era of Florida history  around 724 people were living between Stuart and Miami.

My mother, historian  Sandra Thurlow, shared an excerpt that Charles Pierce wrote for the Broward Legacy in 1886, as he was living and overseeing  the Biscayne House of Refuge at the time.

According to Pierce:

“In October of 1884 occurred the greatest and longest rainfall ever known on the east coast since its  earliest settlement. It poured down for eight days and nights, slacking at times for a few minutes, but never stoping; then came down harder if that were possible. The whole southern part of the state was inundated…

On the eighth day the rain stopped and the next day came in bright and clear, and the sun shone brightly on a rain-soaked Florida…

I was on the east porch looking out to sea…looking up the coast to the northward, I caught the glint of something white about four miles away. At first, I thought it was a sea gull, then it looked like striking fish. I was not certain which it was, so I went for the old long spyglass to get a close up view  of the scintillating white. What the spyglass revealed surprised me. The flickering white I had seen was now clearly shown to be whitecaps or breaking seas at the head of a dark body of water rushing down the coast….a mass of dark water some hundred feet in width rushing along to the south and with breaking seas over running the blue water in front.

It was a strange sight and at first we all wondered where it came from. My father Hannibal solved they mystery when he said, ‘It is fresh water from the New River Inlet.’ Could that be possible? It was fourteen miles away but there was no other solution to the phenomenon.

What a mighty volume of water must be coming out of the inlet and with tremendous velocity enough to overcome the resistance of wind and sea for so many miles. By night of that day the entire ocean in sight of the Station was covered with dark coffee-colored freshwater from the New River. Not a bit of blue water to be seen in any direction. Biscayne Bay was fresh for nearly a month after the week of rain.”

Incredible. So even before humankind diked and channelized the entirety of south Florida, when it  rained heavily, the black wave of fresh water pushed forth through the south eastern inlets to the ocean; it did not just “go south.” We see a similar but not as intense phenomenon today, although drainage has been modified, when a heavy rain gushes through the  St Lucie Inlet, Ft Pierce or Jupiter Inlets.  In any case,  when one hears a story such as Mr Pierce’s it makes one wonder, with all that water,  during a really “great rain” a rain that comes only once in a few hundred years, will our manmade structures hold?

We all know the Army Corp of Engineers, along with support from the South Florida Water Management District, is working diligently to harden the dike around Lake Okeechobee, but it seems that a third outlet, a flow way south, from the lake to the Everglades surely would alleviate some of that natural pressure, the pressure Charlie Pierce describes as  a
“tremendous velocity…”

If he were alive today, I wonder what Mr Charles Pierce would think?


Lake Worth Pioneer Association, (Charlie Pierce family): (http://www.lwpa.org/pioneer_hannibal_dillingham_pierce.html)