In spite of Florida’s significant development, the health of estuarine seagrass is something we expect and treasure. Being the home of baby fish and wildlife, estuaries are often called the “cradle of the ocean.”
According the the USDA, “estuaries are among the most productive natural systems on earth.” Their value? Perhaps priceless. And we are losing money fast.
Today I wanted to share information presented at a Rivers Coalition meeting now posted for the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon estuary; I will touch on four other sister estuaries as well: Caloosahathcee; Lake Worth Lagoon; Biscayne Bay; and Florida Bay. Being familiar with each, can help us advocate for the value of the greater whole.
I. St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon
Last week, my brother Todd Thurlow, shared satellite and GIS images that show a story of seagrass loss in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon estuary in an area known to locals as Sailfish Flats. I have taken screen shot images of Todd’s website below. The first image was taken in 2007 and the second on 2-24-2021. In spite of yearly variations due to season, temperature, and other natural changes, I think it is clear that seagrass has declined. The real killer is that the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon had once attained the greatest species diversity of any estuary in North America, (Lodge, The Everglades Handbook, 4th Edition, page 175).
Right now, it appears that seagrasses have disappeared in the Sailfish Flats region. The reason? Certainly there are many including the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and canals C-44, C-23 and C-24. ~Hurricanes? Climate Change? Sea level rise? Fertilizers from local runoff? Destruction of native trees and vegetation? Earlier dredge and Fill? Septic Tanks? Dredging? Beach Renourishment? But some of these things have gone on for decades, so why now such a difference? Please share your ideas and experiences.
To see all images throughout many years visit Todd’s website eyeonlakeo.
-Seagrass loss a visual survey, Sailfish Flats, SLR/IRL, 2007 compared to 2021
I am no expert in the Caloosahatchee, but it is commonly known that if it gets too saline in the upper estuary, the underwater grasses there can die. I am sharing the most recent Sanibel Captive Conservation Foundation “Caloosahatchee Conditions Report” as it shows the organization recommending 2000 cfs from the ACOE (Lake Okeechobee) but will be recommending less or none in the future.
III. Lake Worth Lagoon
Lake Worth Lagoon, once a huge freshwater lake, is now open to the sea. LWL has many issues, but sediment covering seagrasses -especially from the C-51 canal- is a big one. You can learn more at the Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resource Management website.
IV. Biscayne Bay
The South Florida Water Management had an outstanding workshop on Biscayne Bay last December. Seagrass loss was a big topic and they had just had a fish kill. You can learn more here.
V. Florida Bay
Florida Bay has endured significant seagrass loss, especially, most recently in 2015. This year due to 2020 rains, the Bay is having a very good year as recently reported by the SFMWD. (See page 24). Audubon’s Everglades Science Center is a good website to learn about issues of seagrass loss and others facing Florida Bay.
“Seagrasses? What seagrasses?” It must be “Seagrasses! What Seagrasses!”
My primary 2021 New Year’s resolution was to write more, however my angst over our country’s political, social unrest and the worsening Covid-19 epidemic has caused me to experience “writer’s block.” Nonetheless, today I will try to get going with my resolution.
On January 9th, 2021, my husband, Ed, looked at me, “I’ve got a few days off; do you want to stick around Stuart or do you want to go somewhere?”
“Hmmm? Let’s go as far away as one can go, Flamingo.” I replied.
“Flamingo?” Ed looked like he wasn’t quite sure…
“Yes, Flamingo, at the very southern tip of Florida.”
The following day, Ed and I packed up and drove from Stuart to Lake Okeechobee taking Highway 27 south until we arrived in Florida City, just south of Homestead. Next, we drove about an hour along the historic Ingram Highway. It was a beautiful drive – like going into Florida’s past with marl prairies, slash pines, and tremendous bird life.
About forty miles later, we finally arrived in Flamingo. Now a ghost town, Flamingo was once the home of the American Flamingo -thus the name. Although these spectacular long legged, pink birds were all killed for their spectacular feathers a over a century ago, today there have been reports of a few returning. Most of us are familiar with the story of Guy Bradley, the first Audubon warden hired to protect Everglades wading birds from poachers. This is his land.
Back in the early1900s when Bradley was trying to protect the birds, Flamingo, as all of South Florida, was thoughtlessly being sliced and diced with canals. Today, one can see this most pronounced at the Flamingo Welcome Center along the Flamingo, more modernly called the Buttonwood Canal. Here lies a “plug” between Florida Bay and the mosaic of fresher/fresh waters in and near Flamingo.
According to our ENP tour guide, Mr Nick, this “Flamingo” or “Buttonwood Canal” was dug by Henry Flagler in the early 1900s and later abandoned when Flagler realized the canal failed to drain the land – instead, due to the tides and topography of the area, bringing too much salt water from Florida Bay. A cement plug was later placed to ward off this saltwater intrusion.
I was pleased to see that a family of Ospreys had built their nest right on this plug in the midst of much human activity! The female osprey was hard at work, peeking over the side, protecting and incubating her eggs while the male intermittently delivered fish. The large birds appeared absolutely unaffected by people!
FLAMINGO or BUTTONWOOD CANAL -Salt water, Florida Bay side of plug-Below: brackish/fresher water on estuary/marsh side of plug leading to Coot Bay (Coots no longer come in droves as the water is still too salty.)-The cement plug cutting off salt water of Florida Bay from canal, note osprey nest! -Our ENP guide, NickThe first day Ed and I took a tour and Mr. Nick was our guide. The second day, we rented a Mako flats boat and followed the same path ourselves. We learned so much. It was incredible. While Ed looked for places to fish, I searched for the Shark River. The Shark River is one of many that extends out from Shark River Slough, the remaining ridge and slough, “river of grass,” of the Everglades. Some of its waters lead to Florida Bay. Taylor Slough, on the other hand, has shamelessly been cut off by development.
Flamingo Canal was full of wildlife: wading birds, manatees, and by far the most interesting, crocodiles, of which I had never seen. These southern waters of Florida are one of the only places on Earth where both Alligators and Crocodiles live together. This canal is so salty the crocs have the edge. Our tour led from Flamingo Canal, to Coot Bay, to yet another canal, and then into Whitewater Bay. This track is referred to as the “Wilderness Waterway.” (See map below.)
–American crocodile, an endangered species-The most prevalent wading bird by far was the tri-colored heron-There were many baby crocodiles along the Flamingo Canal warming in the sun. It was 37 degrees in the morning of our second day at ENP! -Because of the plug, manatees must enter the protection of the Flamingo Canal by swimming into the rivers entering Florida Bay that lead eventually into Whitewater Bay! A very long journey. 20 miles? -Our tour guide, Nick, called this tree along the Flamingo Canal the “perfect mangrove.” -Flamingo/Buttonwood Canal opening to Coot Bay-Entering Whitewater Bay on a cold day!It is very hard to explain how gigantic this area is! Over ten miles long and more than half that wide. Irregular in shape. It was truly “liquid land,” with mangrove forests everywhere and smaller even more beautiful mangrove islands dotting the horizon. One thing was for sure, it would be very easy to lose one’s sense of direction and get lost in Whitewater Bay. No thank you!
Ed and I spent hours tooling around but never made it to the Shark River as access is limited. Nonetheless, I got a much better idea of the lay of the land for sending water south. I am hoping Ed and I can one day return in a canoe.
I was happy to go as far away as one can go-FLAMINGO!-Learning about a Florida I did not know- Whitewater Bay islands of Flamingo -Ed practices casting-Islands within Whitewater Bay; all of Florida must once have looked this way!-Back on Land: A Walk down the Guy Bradley Trail-Ed watches a fisherman cast in Florida Bay-Moonvine once covered the southern rim of Lake O’s pond apple forest, now gone.-Ed poses with a giant Buttonwood tree-Morning Glory. Is there a more gorgeous flower?-Guy Bradley Trail and an end to a wonderful day!
Tales of the Southern Loop, Key West to Cape Sable, Part 6-Sunrise and setting moon, Key West
September 15, 2020
Before Ed and I left Key West, we were able to rid the trawler of the smell coming from the head’s sanitation system. It took three trips to West Marine, multiple pump-outs, flushing with extra water, enzyme cleaners, and most important, changing the vent filter. The whole situation made us much more careful and aware.
Excited to overcome yet another obstacle, Ed and I pulled away from a rooster crowing sunrise for what would be the most memorable leg of our trip, Key West to Cape Sable. This was unlike any other in that it was eight hours, alone, in wide Florida Bay for about 70 miles at 7 knots!
We saw pretty clouds, blue skies, turquoise-blue waters, bobbing seagulls, cormorants flying as fast as ducks, two pleasure crafts, one crab boat, and one shrimp trawler. But that was it, most of the time it was just Ed, me, and crab pots as far as the eye could see!
-Happy to be safe at seaAfter about an hour, the wind started picking up. I put on a life vest as the sea began to swell. I imagined that if I did fall in there would be no way to be rescued as I would quickly be carried off. My imagination started to roam. Staring out to the empty horizon, I started to think, about pirates…
-A shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico/Florida Bay off Key West“Ed what would happen if someone came up to the boat and asked us for all of our valuables.”
“It won’t happen.” Ed replied.
“How do you know?”I asked looking off into the wide distance.
“Because I’ve read. Pirates don’t frequent these waters, and if they did, they wouldn’t be attracted to a boat like ours.”
“Why do you say that? We’d be perfect. We can’t speed away.”
“Don’t worry so much Jacqui.”
“Why shouldn’t I?
“There’s nothing to worry about; plus I brought a gun.” Ed slowly replied.
“A gun!” I exclaimed. “If we’re not going to get approached by pirates, why did you bring a gun?”
“Just in case.”
“Holy —- Ed! That certainly doesn’t make me feel any better!”
I exhaled, trying to calm down.
During the course of our conversation the swells got steadily larger, up to 5 feet coming from our stern, and off to the side, our beam. Adrift was dancing in the motion!
“I didn’t know waves in Florida Bay could be so big. I exclaimed. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Jacqui, come on, it’s part of the Gulf of Mexico.” Ed peered through binoculars.“What are you looking for? Pirates?”
“No, just looking.” Ed replied.
“Ed, I’m not feeling so good. These waves. This is crazy.”
“Do you want me to turn around?” He asked, getting irritated.
“No.” I conceded. “Since we’ve been out here this long, we might as well go the whole way.”
The trawler hit hard against the ocean, fear got the best of me and I wondered if the boat might eventually break into pieces.
“Could this thing start coming apart? I inquired, holding my hand over my mouth. Metal creaked and the hull hit relentlessly. With each strike I daydreamed of balancing on a piece of the crushed hull in my bright yellow life vest of course surrounded by sharks.
“I don’t think so,” replied Ed.
“I’m going down; I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Holding on for dear life, I stumbled down the stairs from the upper helm to the stern.
“Oh no,” I thought to myself, “I don’t feel good at all.” I walked into the cabin and then into the head, sat down on the toilet, and suddenly projectile vomited. It was bright red as I had been drinking tropical punch Gatorade and raspberry yogurt. I stared in disbelief. I felt terrible. The exaggerated wave motion was even more pronounced in the cabin. I held on for dear life.
“This is unbelievable; this is no fun!” I got myself together, stumbled through the cabin hitting walls. With one arm always holding on to something, I grabbed a hand towel, wiped my face, and struggled up the stairs to the upper upper helm.
And there I saw him. Ed was in his element! Loving it! Like a cowboy on a wild mustang. I sat myself down, holding on to a metal post that was creeping like a Halloween set. I looked up: “Ed, “I puked.”
“I figured as much. Feel better? “
“Oh no! It’s happening again!”Adrift sunk deep into a wave then popped back up. I leaned over, and let go. Ruminants of tropical punch Gatorade and yogurt splattered everywhere. This was not good. I was embarrassed.
Ed softened. “Babe lay down; I’ll clean it up later. It will be less bouncy up here.” Ed and I had been through such exercises many times as I had thrown up in the plane over the years when flying over Lake Okeechobee to take pictures of harmful algae blooms.
I put my head down on the cushion but no matter how hard I tried, I could not rest. The seas tossed and slowed our progress.
I raised my head. “How much longer?”
” A couple hours….” I lay down again praying for it to be over.
As I lie in agony, I asked the same questing multiple times – about two hours apart: “How much longer?” Ed’s answer was always the same. “Two hours.” I eventually realized that if that were true, we would have already been there! This was the most extended motion sickness episode of the many I had had in my life. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Eventually, the waters started to calm down and our destination, Cape Sable, came into to focus before us. As always, as soon as I was on stable ground, I felt better. My spirts rose, we easily dropped anchor, and planned an excursion. Looking towards the untouched shoreline was incredible!
“This must be what Ponce de Leon felt like.” I said beaming.
“I wonder who will win that one?” Ed joked. “The Endangered Species Act is sacred for you environmentalists.”Like young kids, Ed and I explored a dying mangrove forest, endless shells, flora, and wildlife around Ingraham Lake. Just north-interior lie famous Whitewater Bay and Shark River Slough, all within dingy distance. A veritable eco-playground!
I found the sands most beautiful, crushed shells from millions of years all mixed together. This makes sense as Cape Sable is the southernmost point in the United States, all left to flow, flows here. Thankfully it lies protected within Everglades National Park. And thought humankind and Climate Shifts are rapidly changing its nature, Cape Sable remains absolutely stunning in its timeless and weathered beauty.
-Cape Sable, Everglades National Park-Taking the dingy to Cape Sable’s shore. Ed wondered why the water was so murky. “It’s an estuary!” Water coming from Shark River Slough into Florida Bay.-Adrift at her destination, Cape Sable-On the desolate beach, Cape Sable-Shells, and ancient Inidan midden remains-Dead and dying but strikingly beautiful mangroves like art from many hurricanes-Land snails -Many shells were pierced and attached to the weathered mangroves -On the other side of this marsh lies Lake IngrahamThe whole experience was otherworldly- as if Ed and I were the only people in the world! As the sun set we made dinner and drank wine – watching the stars appear one by one until the entire Milky Way shone above us like a glistening blanket. Just incredible! We sat in the upper helm and discussed philosophy like we were students of Plato or Galileo. I had no memory of my motion sickness earlier in the day…
A gentle breeze blew, Ed held me under the stars…
“I love you.” I said softly into to his ear…
And then I continued…
“but I might as well tell you right now, you’ll be sleeping with the gun, by the door, in the cabin tonight, just in case the pirates do arrive.” 🙂“Sea you next time! Cape Sable to Marco Island!” 🙂
Tales of the Southern Loop, Tavernier to Marathon, Part 4
When Ed and I awoke, it was September 7, 2020. Even though rain and low visibility lie ahead, we decided to move towards Marathon. If we remained in Tavernier, the weather would only get worse.
Today, we would be passing some of the most famous areas of the Florida Keys such as Islamorada, where a memorial stands in remembrance those who perished in the all time historic Labor Day Hurricane of September 2, 1935. The tropics were buzzing this 2020 as well as Ed and I inched southwest through the drizzle.
Within a few hours the weather was mostly behind and a family of dolphins welcomed us to their home of Florida Bay. Florida Bay, a magnificent body of water that for centuries has cast its spell upon multitudes. A water body that now has its fair share of ecological issues due to Florida’s extensive agriculture and development that has basically stopped the flow of fresh water from the once Everglades, “River of Grass. “
-Historic Florida map, 1884. Interacting with the bottle nosed dolphins was a fun contrast to the stressful broken-generator-scenario that had consumed us in Tavernier and put me in a really good mood.
Dolphins jumping in our wake, Florida Bay with video!
2. Before us was beautiful…3. Behind us looked ominous…It was a spectacular trip! Six hours later we arrived at Marlin Bay Marina in Marathon. Everything was first class. Dockhands Gilde and Frances ran out to meet us so docking was a non-issue; Barbara checked us in with a friendliness not often anymore experienced. Nonetheless, a couple of things were clear: not that many people were there, and in public places, even outside when in public, we would be wearing a mask. Covid-19 was taken very seriously here in Monroe County especially because Hurricane Irma had wiped out their hospital in 2017. Ed and I thanked Barbara and walked out carefully into the lightning and drizzle, a hint of things to come.4. Ed checking in and standing on wall at Marlin Bay MarinaEd and I were overnighting longer in Marathon because I had a week of meetings for the South Florida Water Management District. With the Zoom format trawler lifestyle was no big deal, but having reliable wi-fi was. Marlin Bay Marina turned out to be the perfect place for everything. All technology worked and Ed went snorkeling while I zoomed.
When time and weather allowed, Ed and I spun around in the dingy. We saw iguanas, darting Northern Rough Winged swallows, minnows, nurse sharks, parrot fish, loads of penguin like cormorants, American egrets, white egrets, various herons, ospreys, magnificent frigate birds, pelicans, an island rookery, and visited a place achieving “ecological sainthood,” the world famous Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital.
5. Sea Turtle Hospital display, MarathonEd and I took long masked walks to the Fish Market on 35th Street and beyond, taking note of the thousands of crab and lobster traps lining the streets. Of course fishing and crabbing is a longstanding Keys’ industry. Thankfully, today there is more pressure for sustainable methods. In any case, its a way of life that will not be given up.
6. Crab and lobster traps lined the streets/lots of Marathon 7. In spite of Covid, the Fish Market and other restaurants and shops at 35th Street were busy 8. Goofing around at the Fish Market
The water in Marathon looked as healthy as anywhere we’d seen with lush seagrass beds and substantial wildlife. The only thing we noticed was that there were not many pelicans flying in formation as we regularly see along the Treasure Coast. Here, if we saw a brown pelican, it was flying alone.
10. Dingy adventure reveals seagrass beds, rookeries, and wildlife-Lush manatee grass-Magnificent frigate birds-An invasive but cool looking iguana -Minnows eating what looked to be periphyton
Towards the end of our stay, Ed and I walked at least a mile along US1 to Publix. We wore our masks the whole way; it was so hot! I felt miserable. Cars zoomed by along a busy road that could have been anywhere. It was hard to believe all of this was all once mangroves and a native wildlife habitat. I really wanted to take off my mask. But I didn’t. Ed and I knew the importance of keeping them on, plus, in Monroe County the fine for not wearing a mask was $250.00.
11. Ed walking along US 1 in Marathon As we neared home, we saw that the clouds we’d watched building over the past few days were lending themselves to the beginnings of a beautiful sunset. Even though we were dripping sweat, we ran as fast as we could. When we got to the marina the sky was silver but ablaze.
“Ed! Take off your mask!” I said to Ed. “Let’s take a selfie!”
We took off our masks, came together, and smiled. I thought about the smiles on the faces of the dolphins that had greeted us and I was eternally grateful for the beauty around Ed and me. Hurricanes, pandemics, changing landscapes, and impaired waters…the world remained a beautiful place!
One thing is for sure, the South Florida Water Management District puts out a lot of information. One publication I am slowly acquiring the patience to read in the weekly “Environmental Conditions Report.” The District has been great about sharing this important information on Twitter and Facebook, but it is still difficult to find on the website.
Today I am going to share how I read this report hoping that you will start to read it too. You’ll notice that right off the bat there is a disclaimer: “Information contained in the report addresses environmental conditions only and is not the official South Florida Water Management District operations recommendation or decision.”
Disclaimer or not, this document is very important because it is given from the perspective of the entire environment of the Everglades System and of the wildlife if they could talk. The report is 30 pages long and scientific; how can we make it easier for the layperson to read?
For me, as I begin, I ask myself, “What is this week’s problem?” “What should I know first?” To get myself engaged, I have started reading at the bottom of the document first. I go directly the last page where it says “…Recommendations.” Then I read it all.
The first sentence under the February 13, 2020 Water Management Recommendations reads: “Current stages in WCA-3A are low for this time of year and salinities are high in Florida Bay.” Hmmm. I know high salinities are not good for Florida Bay because it can cause a massive sea grass die off, and what is this about WCA-3A? What is a WCA?
So now with these “problems” in mind and of course thinking about the importance of my own St Lucie River. (I am so thankful we have not had toxic algae discharges from Lake Okeechobee this year!) I read it all because I want to know about the environment for the entire Everglades as I’m sure you do as well!
River Kidz, an organization created in 2011 in the Town of Sewall’s Point “by kids for kids,” whose mission is “to speak out, get involved, and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers,” is expanding its range.
The group’s message will now encompass not only the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, but also the Caloosahatchee and Florida Bay. These three south Florida estuaries all suffer due to longstanding mis-management practices of Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District. You may have most recently heard about these three estuaries together as Senate President Joe Negron has proposed a land purchase in the Everglades Agricultural Area and a deep reservoir to improve the situation.
So what’s the problem?
Ft Meyer’s Calooshahatchee River on the west coast gets too much, or too little water, “depending.” And Florida Bay, especially in regards to Taylor Slough near Homestead, hardly gets any water at all. In fact the waterbody is reported to have lost up to 50,000 acres of seagrass due to high salinity. No way! And here at home, as we know first hand, during wet years the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon is pummeled with Lake O water causing toxic algae blooms beyond comprehension as experienced in 2016.
In all cases, whether it is too much, or too little water, algae blooms, destruction of water quality, and demise of valuable wildlife habitat ensues. Kids know about this because the most recent generation has lived this first hand. -A kid growing up, not being able to go in the water or fish or swim? No way!!!!
We can see from the satellite photo below how odd the situation is with the EAA lands just south of Lake Okeechobee engineered to be devoid of water so the EAA plants “don’t get their feet wet” while the rest of the southern state suffers. Yes, even a four-year old kid can see this! 🙂
To tell this story, in Kidz fashion, new characters have been created. Familiar, Marty the Manatee of the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon, has been joined by two new friends: Milly the Manatee from the Caloosahatchee, and Manny the Manatee from Florida Bay. Quite the trio!
Also joining the motley crew is a white pelican, sometimes visitor to Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, and the Central IRL; also a stunning orange footed Everglades Snail Kite complete with Apple Snail; and last but not least, the poor “blamed for mankind’s woes of not being able to send water south,” the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. Finally, she will have a chance to share her story. Endangered species, weather, and the water-cycle will be added to the curriculum.
Workbooks will be available free of charge thanks to donations from The Knoph Family Foundation, and Ms. Michelle Weiler.
Workbook Brainstormers: River Kidz co- founders Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader; the River Kidz, (especially River Kidz member #1, Jack Benton); Julia Kelly, artist; Valerie Gaynor, Martin County School System; Nic Mader, Dolphin Ecology Project; Crystal Lucas, Marine Biology teacher and her daughter Hannah; and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, former mayor and commissioner of the Town of Sewall’s Point. Workbooks will meet Florida Standards and be approved by the Martin County School System thanks to Superintendent, Laurie Gaylord.
Last Thursday, concerned citizens traveled to Tallahassee. Some were from the East Coast, some were from the West Coast, and some were from Florida’s Southern Tip. Those from the Southern Tip, like us from the Northern Estuaries, are experiencing a die off.
But their estuary is even larger and more famous; its name is Florida Bay. The sometimes confusing part of reading about all the present water issues is that Florida Bay’s die off is due to lack of fresh water, rather than too much such as ours. Nonetheless, as with everything in life, it’s all connected.
Florida Bay has been heavily impacted over the years not only because of the redirection of about *20 percent of its waters from Lake Okeechobee that used to flow south, but also due to the encroachment of development into the Everglades’ watershed near Homestead and north thereof. Years ago this development cut off water to Florida Bay especially through Taylor Slough, a shallow river. (See map below)
During a recent visit, my husband and I noted this area east of Everglades National Park experiencing a real estate boom of highway construction and the sell off of agricultural lands for residential development, so this encroachment issue will only increase over the coming years.
Shark River Slough, to the east, is much larger and also feeds the Bay. (See map below)
Although the South Florida Water Management District and Army Corp of Engineers have been “working hard” on the area of the Taylor Slough area of the state, it will not be enough to save the dying Bay that has lost up to 50,000 acres of seagrass recently according to Dr Davis of the Everglades Foundation and reports by local fishermen.
The photos shared in this post by Captain Daniel Andrews of Ft Meyers show the a section of the Bay on December 20th, 2016, at around 1500 feet south of Cape Sable. Cape Sable is west of Taylor Slough but still affected. The waters of the Bay have been decreased not only through Taylor Slough, but also Shark River Slew, of which Lake Okeechobee was once connected as documented by our Native Americans.
Captain Daniel said in an interview: ” The last major die off the Bay had was in 1987, and it resulted in a decade of algae blooms from all the nutrients that were released by the decaying grass. It took ten years for it to recover.”
Now this cycle is happening all over again, in sync with toxic blooms in the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries caused by too much water.
And yes, in recent years, Florida has had a record numbers of tourists visit. In fact, tourism is the state’s #1 industry.
With Florida’s present water woes, one wonders if tourism can hold its # 1 place for our economy.
The life blood of this state has always been its waters, and right now the waters of our state are running with blood…but our government does not see this, nor are they listening, not empathically anyway.
Yes the Governor’s office and the state legislature are “working hard, “but a 30 year “Best Management Practices –Total Maximum Daily Load” plan and a watered down Amendment 1 compromise are not enough. The status quo response is trashing tourism. It is trashing the waters of the state. Let’s get to work and show a sense of urgency so people will continue to visit Florida in the future.
This weekend I received an on-the-ground account of th Central IRL from blogger Jansen Jones : (http://phostracks.com/). Thank you Jansen.
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…
–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).
—-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)
—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.