Tag Archives: paul shidel

Great Blue Heron/Eye on the Horizon- St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Blue herons together in nest. Photo by Paul Shidel     2015.
Blue heron pair together in nest SLR/IRL. Photo by Paul Shidel, 2015.

In my youth, I remember a time in Rio, when my friend Vicki and I found a Great Blue Heron tangled in fishing line and hooks along the St Lucie River. Vicki, always being the leader, designated me to save the bird. I recall walking out into the shallow river and determining how I could help this gigantic and magnificent creature that stood almost as tall as myself.

The bird’s yellow/gold eyes were wild and frightened as it struggled against the line. To me, its markings resembled Indian war paint; its purple/blue coloring extraordinary.  I was inspired and scared by its strength, beauty, and fight to survive.

Vicki barked directions at me, threw me a towel, and some scissors. Being careful not to hurt the bird, I cut the line from the mangrove, bringing it into my arms, gently holding its sharp beak, and then trounced back up to the shoreline. Vicki’s older sister, Beth, drove us to a wildlife veterinarian who took the line and hooks off the bird and returned it to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This must have been sometime in the late 1970s…

The above photo, by local photographer, Paul Shidel, was recently shared, and brought back memories of this childhood experience. Birds tie into a week of blogging about destructive changes and history to the Everglades’ system.

James Audubon's "Great Blue Heron" ca. 1800s. (Public photo)
J. James Audubon’s “Great Blue Heron” ca. 1830. (Public photo)

Believe it or not, the National Audubon Society states that only 10% of the bird life remains in the Everglades compared to its pre-development glory. We are part of the Everglades. The Northern Everglades.

*90 % of the bird life is gone….

When you see a great blue heron know you are witnessing a “survivor.”

Have you ever watched them fly? Head forward; legs back; and a steady eye on the horizon. Completely focused. We too must keep our eyes on the horizon and be completely focused.

We have a long fight forward to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. And that we will.

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Great Blue Heron Audubon: (http://birds.audubon.org/birds/great-blue-heron)

Martin County Audubon: (http://www.audubonmartincounty.org/p/2/home)

* Eric Draper of  Florida Audubon quoted “90% loss of birds in the Everglades” 1-22-15 during his presentation to Martin County Audubon. This statistic is widely noted.

Search other blog post by subject at: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com)

Miami Herald article on Everglades bird population 2014/15: (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article7956405.html)

Teamwork’s Success, Reporting S-308’s Toxic Algae Bloom to the State and ACOE, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

The collective teamwork of the SLR/IRL River Movement has had a tremendous effect on state agencies such as the ACOE and SFWMD. "KEEP THE GATES CLOSED!" (Photo of  River Warrior and River Kidz mom, Cristina Maldonado, donning her homemade protest shirt at the St Lucie Locks and Dam River Rally. Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2013.)
The collective teamwork of the SLR/IRL River Movement has had a tremendous effect on state agencies such as the ACOE and SFWMD. “KEEP THE GATES CLOSED!” (Photo of River Warrior and River Kidz mom, Cristina Maldonado, donning her homemade protest shirt at the St Lucie Locks and Dam River Rally. Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2013.)

Today I want to share what I consider a huge recent success of the River Movement and our ability to network and work together to protect our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

On August 25th, Jensen Beach activist Jackie Trancynger sent out an email blast featuring a photograph taken by Paul Shidel of an awful looking algae bloom he found while photographing birds at Port Mayaca. Port Mayaca is where structure S-308 is located that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to be released into the C-44 canal to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Here’s the photo. You may recall reading about it in one of my previous blogs or seeing it in an email exchange:

August 24, 2014 photograph of blue-green algae bloom east of S-308, Lake Okeechobee/C-44 Canal area/ (Photo courtesy of Paul Shindel.
August 24, 2014 photograph of blue-green algae bloom east of S-308, Lake Okeechobee/C-44 Canal area/ (Photo courtesy of Paul Shidel.)

So anyway after I saw the photo,  I called Jackie Trancynger and got Paul Shidel’s email in order to verify the location of the bloom-certainly appearing to be toxic algae. Paul not only verified the location but provided a map!

Map of algae bloom's location on east side of S-308, C-44 canal. (Paul Schindel.)
Map of algae bloom’s location on east side of S-308, C-44 canal. (Paul Schidel.)

On Tuesday, August 26, I participated as I have for almost two years now, in the ACOE Periodic Scientists Call in my capacity as an elected official from the Town of Sewall’s Point at the invitation of Ms Deb Drum, who oversees Martin County’s Ecosystem Restoration & Management Division.

During this call I sent Paul’s photo and map to the ACOE stating concern that if S-308 were opened this possibly toxic algae would head straight into our SRL/IRL.

Then an amazing thing happened..

The ACOE ask the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to test the algae.

Yesterday, Deb Drum from Martin County reported that the testing came back positive as “Microcystis, a toxic blue-green algae.” The county in turn notified the ACOE that the algae exists in that location to document their concern.  If the ACOE  were to open the locks at S-308, the algae could travel downstream with the water flow into the SLR/IRL. This knowledge could  actually make a difference in a decision of the ACOE to open up those structures. 

Wow. Thank you Paul!

I  have complained before on the ACOE call about  toxic algae being released from Lake Okeechobee as the SLR/IRL does not seem to “go toxic” from its local canals,  but only when Lake Okeechobee’s waters are unleaded to our shores. Toxic algae has been seen in the area between S-308 and S-80 many times but we need to start documenting this. Documentation is a powerful tool in changing the tide of destruction.

So thank you for your teamwork! Together we can help KEEP THEM CLOSED! The “Gates of Hell” that is…

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REPORT:

Subject: Lake Okeechobee, Okeechobee/Glades/Hendry/Palm Beach/Martin Counties: Florida CyanoHAB Tracking Module has received a record update

On August 27, 2014, Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Southeast District staff sampled an algal bloom found in Lake Okeechobee. A single grab sample was collected of surface scum at the Port Myakka Lock (C-44.) Following are the laboratory results for this sample:

Result:
Class
Toxin potential *
The dominant taxon was:
Microcystis aeruginosa
Class Cyanophyceae
yes

Other taxa present:
Dolichospermum circinale **
Class Cyanophyceae
yes
Pseudanabaena sp.
Class Cyanophyceae
undetermined
Eudorina elegans
Class Chlorophyceae

Pediastrum simplex
Class Chlorophyceae

Glenodinium sp.
Class Dinophyceae

* Information based on literature searches and personal communications; information is continually being updated. “Undetermined” refers to specimens for which the lowest practical level of taxonomic identification is genus and some, but not all, species within that genus have the potential to produce toxins or toxin information not available for the identified species but is available for genus level.

** Dolichospermum circinale (synonym = Anabaena circinalis)