Tag Archives: dr edie widder

“Ready, Responsive, and Resolute for our Indian River Lagoon!” USCG and ORCA

"Looking south towards Thumb Point." USCG Station, Ft Pierce, ca 1940s/50s (Photos courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
“Looking south towards Thumb Point.” USCG Station, Ft Pierce, Florida, ca. 1940s/50s (Photos courtesy of Tim Dring via Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

“READY, RESPONSIVE, AND RESOLUTE” —U.S.C.G

Today, I am going to feature “two in one.” –historic photos of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Ft Pierce, and ORCA, the Ocean Research and Conservation Association.  The now historic U.S.C.G. station building has resided along the Indian River Lagoon since the  late 1930s, and today ORCA is housed at the same location.

Thank you to my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, and Tim Dring, President of the U. S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association who discovered these photos in the National Archives and recently shared them with my mother.

Last week, my husband Ed and I, as well as my parents, attended the ORCA grand opening at the Elliott Museum on Hutchinson Island, just over the bridge from Sewall’s Point.(http://www.elliottmuseum.org)
That evening, Dr Edie Widder, famous scientist and gifted communicator, was greeted by a full house. If you have not seen the exhibit, “Illuminating the Deep,” you must! It features her science fiction like deep-sea creature photographs, enhanced by fellow scientist Dr Bernstein, as well as write ups about these creatures that will truly blow your mind. The bioluminescent world under sea we do not know….The exhibit also relates the importance of the Indian River Lagoon’s health and its connection to ocean health.

Illuminating the Deep at the Elliott Museum. (JTL)
“Illuminating the Deep” at the Elliott Museum. (JTL)
Dr Edie Wider and JTL (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Dr Edie Widder and JTL (Photo Ed Lippisch)
From exhibit. Our toxic soup run off killing the IRL and our oceans.
From exhibit. Our toxic soup run off killing the IRL and our oceans.
The USCG location of ORCA as viewed on their website.
The USCG Ft Pierce, Fl. The  location of ORCA as viewed on their website.

It was a great evening. Ed and I had a great time at the exhibit. I was completely inspired as usual when I heard Dr Widder speak. Really amazing. That night, I thought a lot about how incredible it is that ORCA resides right here along the Treasure Coast in Ft Pierce! I even dreamt about squids.

My photo with a rendition of the Giant Squid of which Dr Wider so famously made famous! (Photo Ed Lippisch)
My photo on the floor of the Elliott with a rendition of the Giant Squid eating me. You may know that Dr Widder so famously made the giant famous!

So I wake up and go to my computer, the general format of my life these days…..And  what do I see? Multiple emails from my mother. Her message read:

“Jacqui, Ironically, I am working on Coast Guard images of the ORCA facility. Maybe they will be of interest.”—-Mom

So here are the wonderful photographs my mother shared from the early days. They are priceless. I believe most are from the 1930s and 40s.  Life is one big circle indeed!  And here we are today—-

—-ORCA and the U.S. Coast Guard at Ft Pierce, both “ready, responsive, and resolute” for our Indian River Lagoon!

Coast Guard men out front. (Archives SHT)
Coast Guard men out front. (National Archives TD/SHT)
4 photos USCG Ft Pierce, (Archives SHT)
4 photos USCG Ft Pierce, 1937 (National Archives TD/SHT)
Aerial of land and Ft Pierce Inlet. (Archives SHT)
Aerial of land and Ft Pierce Inlet. (National Archives TD/SHT)
USCG Station Ft Pierce. "Made land." (Archives SHT)
USCG Station Ft Pierce. “Made land.” (National Archives TD/SHT)
USCG (Archives SHT)
USCG (National Archives TD/SHT) “Shows islands.”
1937.
Side view of USCG building, 1937.(National Archives TD/SHT)
Thumb Island in background. (Archives SHT)
USCG building with Thumb Island in background. (National Archives TD/SHT)
Labeled 1955 USCG and FtPierce Inlet. (Achieves SHT)
Labeled 1955 USCG and Ft Pierce Inlet. “Fill..” (National Archives TD/SHT)

History US Coast Guard, Ft Pierce: http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=070-05-08&category=1334262365

Vero Beach Magazine, ORCA and US Coast Guard Building Ft Pierce: (http://www.verobeachmagazine.com/Vero-Beach-Magazine/January-2008/Saving-The-Oceans-Orca-Style/)
ORCA:(http://www.teamorca.org/orca/index.cfm)

The Magic of a Kid’s First Fish, “Lines in the Lagoon” Youth Fishing Tournament, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

My "first fish", a puffer, Indian River Lagoon. (Family album, 1968.)
My “first fish,” a puffer, Indian River Lagoon. (Family album, 1968.)

Some things never change, like the wonder of a kid catching his or her “first fish.”

I still remember mine.  A puffer fish! It was 1968, and my parents took me fishing along the Indian River Lagoon…

Fishing is a powerful  experience for a young person. There is no better way to teach youth how to appreciate and protect the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon than by “taking a kid  fishing.”  It is well documented that hunters and fishermen/women are some of our county’s most outspoken and powerful conservationists.

In keeping with this Treasure Coast fishing legacy, on October 18th, 2014, something really remarkable is happening.  Kids in our area have organized a fishing tournament for kids! The event is called “Lines in the Lagoon.” (http://www.linesinthelagoon.com/#!about/mainPage)

This fishing tournament is meant to turn kids on to fishing; raise awareness regarding the pollution problems of the Indian River Lagoon; and raise money for two great organization that help the river: ORCA (http://www.teamorca.org/cfiles/home.cfmand the Everglades Foundation, (http://www.evergladesfoundation.org).

Vero Beach freshman high school student, Quinn Hiaasen and his friends organized the event. Quinn is obviously on his way to “stardom” himself, but it must be mentioned that his father is none other than satirist and writer Carl Hiassen, (http://www.carlhiaasen.com/bio.shtml), a well-known proponent of our rivers and Everglades. Quinn’s mother, Fenia, has also been working for the event and assisting her son for months– “spreading the word” and communicating  with River Kidz momz  here in Martin and St Lucie Counties. Martin, St Lucie, and Indian River counties are one, as the lagoon knows no county lines or political districts; it is a Tri-county tournament.

Early on, Mrs Hiaasen let us know that pre-fishing/fishing tournament events included:

September 6th: LAGOON CLEAN UP DAY
October 27th: INDIAN RIVER SCIENCE FAIR DAY
October 1st: CHIPOTLE IN STORE PROMOTIONS 3-7pm 50% DONATION TO ORCA AND EVERGLADES FOUNDATION
October 18th: FISHING TOURNAMENT AND AWARDS BANQUET AT THE BACKUS MUSEUM IN FT PIERCE

From what I am told by River Kidz mom, Nicole Mader, the group is also working on displaying  a “responsible fishing tent” to teach children care with fishing line and hooks, as careless discarding of such is a serious threat to wildlife and of course the tournament is primarily “catch and release.”

"Lines in the Lagoon" fishing tournament, Oct 18, 2014.
“Lines in the Lagoon” fishing tournament, information, Oct 18, 2014.

Isn’t this a great thing?

So sign up…

Support the kids; support conservation; and support the Hiaasen family!

And remember, by taking a kid fishing, you are creating future advocates for our Indian River Lagoon.

______________________________________________

Sign up here/ “Lines in the Lagoon” web site: (http://www.linesinthelagoon.com/#!about/mainPage)

Planet Vero Radio show with Quinn Hiaasen and his friends who organized Lines in the Lagoon:(https://rcpt.hightail.com/2610147407/e64dac6d43eaba05f8070e639940c2e7?cid=tx-02002207350200000000&s=19104)  (In time, this link will expire.)

TC Palm article on event: (http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/indian-river-lagoon/registration-now-open-for-hiaasen-youth-fishing-tournament-on-the-indian-river-lagoon

 

What Exactly is Bioluminescence in the Indian River Lagoon? Is it a Good or Bad Sign?

bioluminescence
“The dinoflagellate, (marine plankton), Pyodinium bahamense is what “produces the light show in the IRL.” Photo credit: https://getupandgokayaking.com

About a week and a half ago, my mother sent me an email with photos of my father and her on a kayak trip at night in the Indian River Lagoon. She had seen an article in the Stuart News about a company called Motorized Kayaks of the Treasure Coast and their trip into the light show of bioluminescence that has been occurring off our shores.

First, I thought about how cool my parents are to be going on kayak trips in their mid- seventies, and second, I thought, “aren’t these little plankton creatures a kind of algae bloom, and aren’t algae blooms bad for the lagoon in spite of bioluminescence’s beauty?”

Algae blooms have been linked to recent 60% plus seagrass die-offs, poor water quality, as well as  IRL pelican, dolphin and manatee deaths.  Super blooms, brown tides, “regular” and “toxic” algae blooms are “fed” by fertilizer, septic effluent, canal and Lake Okeechobee discharges, especially in the southern lagoon.

[caption id="attachment_2989" align="alignnone" width="300"]My father, Tom Thurlow, preparing for a kayak trip into the Indian River Lagoon to view the bioluminescent light show. (Photo Sandra Thurlow, August, 2014) My father, Tom Thurlow, preparing for a kayak trip into the Indian River Lagoon to view the bioluminescent light show. (Photo Sandra Thurlow, August 19, 2014)

Well anyway, I decided to contact Dr. Edie Widder of ORCA, the Ocean Research and Conservation Association, in Ft. Pierce, (http://www.teamorca.org/cfiles/home.cfm) and ask.

Dr Widder  is a world-renowned bioluminescence expert; she has even worked with the US Navy in the “design” of ships that would not cause bioluminescent disruption in the oceans, and thus give away their location to enemy ships.

This was my question to Dr Widder:

Dear Edie,
My parents rented kayaks to go see the bioluminescence in the IRL. It got me
thinking. Is the light caused by the same creatures that cause toxic algae
blooms in the lagoon?
Is the bioluminescence a bad sign for the health of the lagoon? Thank you.
Hope all is well.

Her response:

Hi Jacqui – It’s kind of a good news bad news story. The dinoflagellate
producing the light show, Pyrodinium bahamense, happens to be one that
produces saxitoxin. Interestingly it’s the same dino that’s responsible for
the bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico and in those bays it doesn’t produce
the saxitoxin. Here it does. It’s not known why although I have a theory
and it has nothing to do with pollution. (It’s a long story having to do
with how their bioluminescence functions to protect them from predators
under different concentrations.)

Dino blooms are usually preceded by rain events that flush nutrients into
the water and then a series of calm sunny days that promote photosynthesis.
Blooms like the one we’re seeing now used to be routine according to some of
the older fishermen I’ve talked to. They called it fire in the water. The
fact is the water can’t be too polluted or the dinoflagellates won’t grow.
I’ll send you an article with some pictures I took.

Cheers,

Edie

Here is a photo Dr Widder took of bioluminescence in the lagoon I copied and a link to a remarkable video.

Bioluminescence in the IRL photographed by Dr Edie Widder.
Bioluminescence in the IRL photographed by Dr Edie Widder.

Incredible pictures of barnacles feeding on bioluminescent dinoflagellates: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1jG8qFZyYY)

Thank you for sharing, Dr Widder!

In conclusion, I looked up saxitoxin and learned it is a “paralytic shellfish toxin” that is found is some shellfish and especially puffer fish. It has been found in few other places in the US as well as in  the Indian River Lagoon. I guess the little dinoflagellates, the same ones that make the pretty bioluminescence light,  not always, but sometimes, will produce this toxin which gets spread to some shellfish and some fish. If such a shellfish or fish is ingested,  it will make a human very sick.  Around 2002, 28 people got so sick here, in the Merritt Island area, and in a few other areas of the county, that now there is a permanent government ban on harvesting/eating IRL puffer fish in the entire IRL.

Since I am nowhere close to a scientist, I will just share some links below and refrain from speculating what is “good or bad. ” Nonetheless, I think I can safely say that sometimes beauty and danger walk hand in hand in this magical world of our Indian River Lagoon.

_______________________________________________________

Abstract, Saxitoxin in the IRL, US Food and Drug Administration: (http://www.researchgate.net/publication/250019725_Concentrations_of_Saxitoxin_and_Tetrodotoxin_in_Three_Species_of_Puffers_from_the_Indian_River_Lagoon_Florida_the_Location_for_Multiple_Cases_of_Saxitoxin_Puffer_Poisoning_from_2002_to_2004Sincerely)

Monitoring Toxic Algae and Shellfish in the IRL, FWC, (http://myfwc.com/research/redtide/monitoring/current/indian-river/)

Florida Today: Is the IRL OK for Play? http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2014/06/14/indian-river-lagoon-ok-play/10527607/)

Dinoflagellate: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinoflagellate)