There is incredible footage of the 2016 toxic algae event caused primarily by forced discharges by the ACOE and SFWMD from Lake Okeechobee into the estuaries, St Lucie and Caloosahatchee. South Florida locals such as Mary Radabaugh, Dr Edie Widder, Dr Brian LaPointe, Mark Perry, Phil Norman, Dr Larry Brand, Dr Steve Davis, and Col. Jennifer Reynolds are prominently featured. Edie Widder’s political commentary at the end is priceless.
CHANGING SEAS Toxic Algae: Complex Sources and Solutions. Aired: 06/21/2017
Water releases from Lake Okeechobee periodically create putrid mats of blue-green algae. Scientists think water pollution is to blame, and if something isn’t done about it there could be irreparable damage to the environment, the local economy and people’s health.
You can Like Changing Seas on Facebook and attend their DIVE IN Summer series on this topic June 28th, 2017. See link:
UNITED STATES COAST GUARD STATIONS FT PIERCE AND LAKE WORTH, THEN AND NOW…
It’s fun when a blog blossoms into more!
My recent post of the historic US Coast Guard station in Ft Piece was one such post…Thank you for the many wonderful comments and insights. Also, Dr Edie Widder is going to have the historic photos printed and hung at ORCA, located in the building itself. Talk about full circle!
As a follow-up, my brother Todd created a “time capsule flight” of the Ft Pierce USCG Station and the Lake Worth station using the historic photos shared by Tim Dring, President of the U. S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association. Mr Dring had recently shared the photos (discovered in the National Archives) with my mother as she is writing a book on the subject.
My brother’s time capsule flight will take you from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon proper to the Ft Pierce Coast Guard Station, and then jet-off to Peanut Island’s Lake Worth USCG Station. It is wild to see the what our area looked like undeveloped. I have to say although they are invasive, I miss the tall Australian Pine Trees. I can still hear them blowing in the Trade Winds. Such a romantic time it was….Have fun. Wear your seatbelt and don’t lean too far out of the Cub!
Link to THEN AND NOW, US COAST GUARD STATION FT PIERCE AND LAKE WORTH, Todd Thurlow.
Also I am going to include a “funny story” about the “boys of the USCG” in Ft Pierce during WWII sent to me by family friend Stan Field, whose pen name is Anthony Stevens.
Hi there, Jacqui [cheery wave]
I just read your post about ORCA and the old CG station and thought I would share this tale with you. My mother, Emmy, shared this family legend many times. She was a teenager during WWII.
A true story about telephone Operations during WWII.
My mother and her friends, worked as telephone operators during most of the war. In those days, that involved a headphone and a bank of ¼” phone jacks with cables and plugs. There were no automatic dialing systems. Every call was placed manually via party lines with anywhere from four to a dozen phones on each line. Now Emmy and her fellow operators were usually pretty bored and would stay ‘on the line’ when there were military conversations. One night, a very young and very ‘cool’ fellow that everyone loved for his sense of humor, was stationed at the Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge. A call came into Emmy’s switchboard and she was asked to patch in to the House lookout station. Now all of the watchtowers along Hutchinson Island were on the same party line. When it rang, everybody picked up. The person on the other end asked for the station they wanted and that station would respond. Normally, as soon as you realized it wasn’t for you, you would hang up. This night, the caller asked for the watch on duty at the House of Refuge. The young man’s reply was loud and clear… “Gilbert’s Bar! Wine, women and song, all night long!” There was a dead silence on the line for several seconds and the caller asked in a cold voice… “Do you know who this is, son?” “No sir.” “This is the Captain of the Coast Guard Base in Fort Piece.” Without missing a beat… “Do you know who THIS is, Sir?” “No.” “THANK GOD!” And he hung up. The sound of loud laughter flowed from a dozen headsets that were listening and the Captain hung up in fury. The next day, the Captain passed the word that the person who answered had better confess or the entire post would lose liberty the following weekend. Even though everybody on watch that night knew who it was, NOBODY stepped forward and they all were restricted to barracks that weekend. Needless to say, the young man was a model sailor for the rest of the war… and he owed each of his buddies a great deal.
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.
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.
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!
From what I understand, there had not been a “lagoon assembly” for seventeen years. The last assembly had been the genesis of the Indian River Lagoon’s National Estuary Program, NEP, that is linked to the US Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA).
The IRL NEP, over the years, became linked and partially funded by the St Johns River Water Management District. Just recently there is gossip of “change” and major positions in the NEP have been “rearranged.”
In all honestly, this change was not discussed much at the IRL Assembly this past weekend, but it will affect the assembly either way.
Thank you to the Marine Resources Council, MRC, located in Melbourne, Brevard County, three counties north of Martin, also along the lagoon, who decided to take on the challenge of organizing the “IRL Action Assembly” for 2014. Dr Leesa Souto oversaw this enormous goal involving up to 100 delegates.
I was invited to attended the meeting and I thought I would give a short summary of my experience.
So, I went up Thursday evening to the “Lagoon House,” the home of the Marine Resources Council; there were introductions, and the primary speaker was Wayne Mills who spoke on the history and present of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Although the US’ largest estuary, Chesapeake Bay, remains terribly polluted, they are making calculable progress and have even been sued by the state of Florida and others because the foundation’s research is leading the way in limiting agricultural and other pollution into waterbodies, a frightening and expensive prospect for the states.
The following day, we met at Florida Tech, on a beautiful campus and a beautiful day. We gathered in the old lecture hall like students, under the eye of the periodic table, and listened to speakers: Virginia Barker, Brevard conservation; Dr Grant Gilmore, fish studies/habitats; Adam Schaefer, sickness in IRL dolphins, HBOI ; Dr Leesa Souto, MRC; Dr Charles Jacoby, seagrass loss, SJRWMD; Robert Weaver, FIT inlets/flushing; and Dr John Trefry, general lagoon health demise. Their presentations were excellent and disturbing. The most interesting new piece of information for me came from Ms Barker’s statistics on how much groundwater goes into and affects the IRL along with surface water runoff. According to Ms Baker, groundwater holds pollutants that build up from the land, like fertilizers and septic seepage, and often tremendous amounts of salt. She says most canals are cut so deep in Brevard County that the groundwater is constantly “pulled up” and flowing back into the IRL.
Then they split us into groups. In my “A Group” were Dr Edie Widder, ORCA; Matt Thorton, Syngenta; Ed Garland, SJRWMD communication; Jeff Beals, FFWC/SJRWMD; Tim Zorc, IRC Commissioner; Dr Jan Landsberg, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission; Mike Merrifield, Wild Ocean Seafood Market, Titusville; and Carol Nobel, Cocoa Beach, Brevard County.
Classic “Dr George” from FIT was our facilitator and two young and “wanting to please” students were our scribes. We sat in a circle facing each other, tasks with “saving the lagoon.”
The group was led through a series of questions and then we had to address two of four topics: septic tanks; drainage canals; agricultural lands; and residential lands. After excruciating conversation, we addressed two topics: septic and ag lands. We wrote our outcomes on large pieces of paper to share with the other nine groups later on. This took two days and we also dealt with more questions and concepts. It was overwhelming and the task makes one realize the difficulty of the situation.
When we all reconvened in the lecture room we read each others sheets and voted on which ones we would support. At this point the MRC is compiling these goals and will summarize and prioritize consensus actions for the assembly.
I don’t know if the assembly will be able to save the IRL but I sure they will provide direction. Every time I attend these type of meetings I meet wonderful people, people who want to save the lagoon as much as I do from different backgrounds and areas than myself.
I really liked and learned from the people in my group. As usual, I felt like the “Good Lord and Universe” were on my side in that Dr Jan Landsberg was in my group.
Dr Landsberg is THE person who has overseen the marine mammals deaths of manatees for the IRL and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. She operates out of St Pete. Speaking to her at lunch I learned how low their funding is and how they have been dealing with the 150 plus dead, bleeding from the nose and eyes, manatees that have come into their agency in the past year mostly from Brevard County.
“The seagrass is completely gone, right? ” I asked.” Why are the manatees still up here? What are they eating?”
Jan replied, ” they are eating drift algae and some of that algae is toxic…”
Also, at lunch I learned from Dr Eddie Widder that once a waterbody is “seeded” with toxic algae it is forever there, in the sediments and soils. It never goes away. You could lessen it by removing muck but the seeds/spores will always be somewhere. She also mentioned, while eating her salad, that the pharmaceuticals people take also end up in the lagoon…
“Pass the ketchup, please.”
Mike Merrifeld, Titusville, who runs a seafood business told me he had seen my photos of the southern lagoon debacle last year, and “his” fishermen believe the pollution went up the Gulf Stream from the St Lucie Inlet and has majorly affecting fishing/shrimping productivity in the Brevard area. I believe him.
“I’m not really hungry anymore….”
So in the end, we must join together and force the US EPA and the FL DEP to do their job. And we too must do everything we can ourselves to save the IRL. Because one thing is for sure, “we are killing it.”
With the hope of the Chesapeake Bay model, goals from the Action Assembly and an infuriated public, our policy makers can no longer hide and must rise to create policy that many will not like, but of which all will benefit, in that our grandchildren, just might be able to fish and swim, or see a manatee or dolphin, in a beautiful Indian River Lagoon.