Tag Archives: Dr Duane De Freese

Adrift’s Indian River Lagoon Water Report, June-July 2019

July 5, 2019

Hi. I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! Wasn’t it exceptional? Exceptional because the St Lucie/IRL’s water wasn’t toxic like so many times in recent years. So nice to be able to enjoy our waterways. No dumping of Lake O. I am grateful!

Today I am a back with an Indian River Lagoon Report for the entire Indian River Lagoon.

During my husband, Ed, and my recent 156 miles trip up the IRL, aboard ADRIFT, I contacted Duane DeFreese Ph.D., Executive Director for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. I called Duane because I knew why the southern lagoon looked better but was impressed by how good the water in the central and northern lagoon looked as well. No brown tide. No superbloom.

Since am unfamiliar with the waters north of the Treasure Coast, except by books, I wanted a scientific update. Well, boy, did I get it! See Dr. Duane’s comments below. Also included is the invaluable, recent St John’s Water Management District’s “June 20th Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update.”

For visual input as well, I am inserting some of Ed and my photos, with comments, of our incredible journey along what is still considered to be one of the world’s most biodiverse estuaries. What a treasure! From north to south, we must do all we can to ensure a toxic-free future.

Keep up the fight!


IRL map: Researchgate
Ed and JTL start of the trip on “Adrift.”
Location: Jupiter Island near the Jupiter Inlet, as almost always the water here is like the Bahamas, looking great! Near the border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties.
Near Jupiter Inlet, border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties. Wow!


Duane, hi. Hope you are having a great summer. At this time, are there algae blooms reported in the IRL near Melbourne, the N. IRL north of Titusville, or anywhere in the Mosquito Lagoon? Thank you for letting me know. Jacqui TL

Duane DeFreese, Ph.D. Exec. Dir National IRL Estuary Program, http://www.irlcouncil.com

Conditions being reported to me by the local guides are consistent with the report and my own observations. Overall water quality looks pretty good, but small, patchy areas of poor water quality continue. The fishing guides tell me one day it looks great and a day later the same area will have color and turbidity (probably patchy bloom conditions). My personal observation is that we have been lucky so far and the system is vulnerable. I would not be surprised to see blooms intensify as we move deeper into summer and the rainy season. Lagoon water temperatures are also really warm. the SJRWMD Report documents that we have had patchy blooms occurring of multiple species. Two confirmed species of concern are Pseudo-nitzschia, a marine diatom and Pyrodinium bahamensis, a dinoflagellate. The worst water conditions continue to be in Banana River and in Sykes Creek. There are boater reports of patchy poor water quality in some areas of the northern IRL. The third species of significant recent concern has been Brown tide (Aureoumbra lagunendis). It was in almost in continuous bloom for most of last year in the Banana River. Bloom conditions have subsided. Aureoumbra thrives in warm, high salinity environments. It is not known to be toxic. Blooms of pseudo nitzschia, a marine diatom, can produce a neurotoxin called domoic acid. Blooms of Pyrodinium can produce saxitoxin. I expect that we will see patchy and flashy bloom conditions of multiple species throughout the summer. If we get lucky, I hope none of these blooms get intense enough to elevate toxin levels, low DO levels and fish kills. I’m very concerned about the slow recovery of seagrasses, even in areas of good water quality. Feel free to call me anytime.  Have a great 4th July!

Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update June 20


Dear Duane, thank you so very much for the super informative reply! I wrote because my husband and I are taking our maiden voyage in a trawler. We have gone from Stuart to Jupiter to Vero to Cocoa, north as far as possible in IRL, past Titusville, and today-through the Haul-over Canal into the Mosquito Lagoon. Not being familiar with these waters, all I have seen visually appears quite good compared to the St Lucie and even parts of the S. IRL. Some varying coloration is apparent, but overall seems good and in the north, many baitfish balls are shimmering under the surface and dolphin families are gorging themselves and teaching their young! We have seen many dolphins everywhere. Throughout Indin River County, Ospreys nesting in channel markers. One after the other!  In the Mosquito Lagoon there were many more wading birds than S IRL. Even saw a few roseate spoonbills. I was not expecting it to be so full of life up here… a nice surprise. Not off the chart healthy, but marine and bird life very visible! I really appreciate the info you sent. I plan to blog on trip once home, so I can quote your knowledge. Happy 4th of July to you as well and I hope to see you soon.


The confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon off S. Sewall’s Point, Bird Island. Near Stuart, Martin County.
Sewall’s Point and Stuart, Martin County.
Beautiful blue water near the Ft Pierce Inlet, St Lucie County. Ft Pierce rocks!
Waters of Vero Beach, Indian River County.
Old map showing the designated area of famous INDIAN RIVER LAGOON CITRUS. Citrus Museum, Vero Beach, FL
1920 Blue Heron Map shows clearly the area of the Everglades, Heritage Center and Citrus Museum, Vero.
Street sign in Vero Beach, as everywhere ALL canals lead to Lagoon! No trash, fertilizer, pesticides, etc!
Sebastian Inlet, Indian River County, brings blue waters to the area. So pretty!
Approaching Cocoa Village, north of Melbourne in Brevard County.
Waters nearing Cocoa Village in Brevard County
Ed and I visited the Kennedy Space Center along the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River. Surrounded by the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Space & Nature. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/visit/plan_your_visit.html Such an inspiration!
3-D movie at Kennedy Space Center really took us to the moon, Mars, and beyond!
The ominous Vehicle Assemble Building, NASA, so large it is visible no matter where one is are along the central and northern IRL. It’s like it is following you!
Eau Gallie, Melbourne. The Eau Gallie River, or Turkey Creek,  is a small version of the St Lucie and also impaired due to runoff from agriculture and development.
Like a sentinel, the Vehicle Assembly Building as seen over the Indian River Lagoon north of Titusville.


Waters approaching Titusville, Brevard County.
Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County.
Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County. Shortly beyond channel turns right through the Haulover Canal and into the Mosquito Lagoon.

Ed navigates through the Haulover Canal, connecting the northern IRL with the Mosquito Lagoon.
Water in the Haulover Canal was greenish.
Entering the stunningly beautiful, peaceful, undeveloped Mosquito Lagoon. This area is flanked by the Scottsmoor Flatwoods Sanctuary and Canaveral National Seashore. Wildlife abounds.

360 of the unforgettable Mosquito Lagoon:

Flora and fauna along shoreline, Mosquito Lagoon
Anhinga twins, Mosquito Lagoon

Incredible footage of 4 dolphins in our wake near Ft Pierce welcoming us home!

ADRIFT is a 2007 Mainship 400 trawler, top speed about 8 knots 🙂

Dr Duane De Freese, Great New Leadership for the IRL National Estuary Program, SLR/IRL

Duane E. De Freese, Ph.D.(Photo Gulf Base article)
Duane E. De Freese, Ph.D. (Photo Gulf Base article.)
IRL near Vero 2013, (Photo JTL and EL)
IRL near Vero 2013, (Photo JTL and EL)

It is not yet official, as the contract must be negotiated, however, word on the river is that “it’s looking good.” Last Friday, Dr Duane E. De Freese was chosen from an outstanding group of candidates to lead us into what has to be a better Indian River Lagoon future.

Over the years, I have met Dr Duane at Harbor Branch IRL Symposiums and at the Marine Resources Council in Melbourne. I do not know him well, but he always struck me as someone “super cool,” a surfer….someone in the science and business of water… Someone with a smile, an opinion, very smart, politically savvy, not afraid to ask questions, charismatic, with leadership skills, and a person who genuinely cares about the Indian River Lagoon and its creatures.

I think he is a great choice, and I hope the contract is negotiated.

Links about Dr. D.:

Gulf Base: (http://www.gulfbase.org/person/view.php?uid=ddefreese)

Florida Today: (http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/08/07/indian-river-lagoon-council-considers-new-director/31306791/)

Hydro-Tech: (http://www.hydropro-tech.com/index.html)

The Indian River Lagoon is one of 28 estuaries nation wide that is in the National Estuary Program. The National Estuary Program was created by the 1987 through amendments  to the Clean Water Act.  Grants are provided to states where governors identify/identified nationally significant estuaries that are threatened by pollution, land development, or overuse. (Sound like home?!)

The National Estuary Program is designed to encourage local communities to take responsibility for managing their own estuaries. Each NEP is made up of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies responsible for managing the estuary’s resources, as well as members of the community — citizens, business leaders, educators, and researchers. These stakeholders work together to identify problems in the estuary, develop specific actions to address those problems, and create and implement a formal management plan to restore and protect the estuary. The Indian River Lagoon program was set up in 1987 and evolved to be mostly overseen by the St John’s River Water Management District. With the new structure that has been emerging  since 2013, the program will still be supported and affiliated with the Water Management Districts but more independent through leadership of the five counties and now cities along the lagoon that have chosen to participate. (SJRWMD) 

"Dr Duane"
“Dr Duane  De Freese ” our new leader for the IRL!

The bottom line is that especially after the crash and burn of the lagoon in 2013, the IRL NEP  is remaking itself,  and will be more able to lobby for funds. This is great, nonetheless, my message all along has been that there is a currency other than money, information. The sharing and caring of organizations and government officials along the lagoon to me is even more important than the money as people are usually divided by money rather than united, especially when competing for it…If the people aren’t bound by a “common good,” things fall apart.

Recent seagrass loss in the central and northern IRL. This came to a head the same time the S IRL was toxic from releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. A tipping point...
Recent seagrass loss in the central and northern IRL from the 2011-2013 super-bloom and brown tide. This came to a head the same time the SLR/SIRL was toxic due to discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. A tipping point for the entire lagoon and the IRL NEP.

Thus new leadership must unify the “love of our lagoon” not just “turning dirt and getting projects.” I think Dr Duane De Freese can achieve this!

I am providing links below that give insight into the National Estuary Program (NEP) and a list of the 28 estuaries that are part of the program through the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA).

Thank  you to my dear friend Ann Benedetti of the St Johns River Water Management District who alerted me to this good news, and a huge kudos to the Indian River Lagoon County Collaborative members who have led us to this horizon of hope: Martin County, Commissioner Ed Fielding (Chairman) St. Lucie County, Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky Indian River County, Commissioner Peter D. O’Bryan Brevard County, Commissioner Chuck Nelson; and Volusia County, Commissioner Joshua Wagner.

Most of all, congratulations Dr De Freeze! —“The world is our oyster!!!” 🙂

IRL near Vero/Sebastian 2013. (JTL and  EL)
IRL near Vero/Sebastian 2013. (JTL and EL)


Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program
Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program
Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program
Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program
Casco Bay Estuary Partnership
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program
Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Delaware Center for the Inland Bays
Galveston Bay Estuary Program
Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program
Long Island Sound Study
Maryland Coastal Bays Program
Massachusetts Bays Program
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Morro Bay National Estuary Program
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program
Peconic Estuary Program
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Puget Sound Partnership
San Francisco Estuary Partnership
San Juan Bay Estuary Partnership
Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission
Sarasota Bay Estuary Program
Tampa Bay Estuary Program
Tillamook Estuaries Partnership

EPA NEPs:(http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/nep/index.cfm) (http://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries/nep_home.html)


IRL County Collaborative:(http://ap3server.martin.fl.us/web_docs/adm/web/aid_IRL_Collaboratives/aid_Documents_and_Correspondence/RJetton.pdf)