Tag Archives: sebastian

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!

Jacqui

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!

JTL:

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

JTL:

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.

Baitfish!

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 🙂

Sebastian, Ft. Pierce, and St Lucie Inlet, Gallery of Discharge Photos 3-12-16 SLR/IRL

Thank you to my husband Ed for taking these photos once again of our east coast Indian River Lagoon inlets: Sebastian, Ft Pierce, and St Lucie– in this order. He took them Saturday, 3-12-16, around 4pm.

How to recognize a photo up close if you are not sure? Sebastian is recognized by its bridge over the inlet, Ft Pierce by the discharges exiting C-25 into the IRL at Taylor Creek near the marina, and Stuart’s St Lucie by “ball-like” Sailfish Point and undeveloped Jupiter Island south across the inlet.

Each inlet is unique, but all share that destructive channelized discharge waters running  through them to the Atlantic Ocean—carrying sediment covering seagrasses, oysters, and reefs—too much freshwater for healthy fisheries and wildlife….and over nutrification—–

The rare, old-fashioned, 1987 “IRL Joint Reconnaissance Report “map below shows the Indian River Lagoon basin as a whole all the way from Ponce de Leon, in Volusia County  to Jupiter Inlet, in Palm Bach County. The image shows  the various freshwater discharge points into the Indian River Lagoon “basin.”

Yes, the Florida we know was “built on drainage” of the lands, but if the Florida of tomorrow is going to thrive, this system must be re-plumed/reorganized.

As we are aware, and have been aware, we are slowing killing our treasured ecosystem with these discharge outlets. It is time to rethink the drainage equation. Hopefully, in the future, “the canal map” will not look like this, nor will the aerials. To view series of aerials below, please click image and then direct with arrows.

Source: Indian River Lagoon Joint Reconnaissance Report 1987 as shared by Gary Roderick.
Source: Indian River Lagoon Joint Reconnaissance Report 1987 as shared by Gary Roderick.

 

Ft Pierce, Sebastian, and Stuart’s Inlets, Gallery of Discharge Photos, 3-6-16, SLR/IRL

Today I am sharing a “gallery” of discharge photographs from my husband Ed’s flight over Ft Pierce, Sebastian, and Stuart’s St Lucie Inlets. The photos were taken yesterday, March 6th, 2016, around 2pm.

A picture speaks a thousands words…(In this case through about 106 frames.) Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day, yet area waters estuarine and ocean were not necessarily so. —-Certainly not those surrounding the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon near the St Lucie Inlet.

The discharge levels and reports for Lake Okeechobee can be reviewed at the Army Corp of Engineer’s Jacksonville website here: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm. Lake Okeechobee is reported at 15.68.

The ACOE will be releasing less according to a recent press release.

The Extinction of “Florida’s Parakeet,” a Sebastian Recollection of This Beautiful Bird, SLR/IRL

Photo of a "Carolina Paraquet," that lived in Florida's swamps and old growth forest until overshooting and loss of habitat led to its extinction. (Photo Palm City County Museum Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Photo of a stuffed “Carolina Paroquet,” displayed in a glass container. “The bird was given to Mrs. Carlin at Jupiter and was owned by her son Carlin White who died at 105.” The birds were prevalent and lived in Florida’s swamps and old growth forest until overshooting, the pet trade, and loss of habitat led to their extinction. (Photo Palm  Beach County Museum, quote by Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

Sometimes on a sunny day, I hear gregarious green parrots in the cabbage palms of Sandsprit Park near Port Salerno. When my husband, Ed, and I recently visited his niece at University of Miami two huge, gorgeous multi-colored macaws swooped down over cars stuck in traffic.

“Holy moly!” I exclaimed. “What was that?”

“Parrots.” Darcy calmly replied. “They got loose from the zoo after the hurricanes. Now they live here; they have chicks in a royal palm tree on campus.”

Pretty cool. Life adapts, unless you go extinct that is…Extinct: “No longer existing or living; dead.”

This was the fate in the early 1900s of a beautiful bird known as the “Carolina Parakeet,” last reported between 1910 and 1920. The “paroquet” as the old timers referred to them, had an expansive range that included much of the eastern United States, west into Colorado, and south into Florida. Their habitat? Swamps and old growth forests… what our state used to be.

As these habitats were cleared and filled for timber and development, especially from the late 1800s into the early 1900s, their range became limited, and their numbers declined. According to documentation, some of the last remaining lived in our Indian River Lagoon region.

The birds were sought after for their bright feathers and friendly voices. People kept them as pets and wore them on ladies’ hats prior to Florida Audubon’s rampage.

Perhaps the most poignant  tale of their story is that the birds were very social, and like people, if a member of their group were shot, all the others would “flock to the injured,” making capture, or shooting of all others, “easy-pickings.” This compassion, an “advanced, evolved trait” sealed their fate in the extinction-book of history.

Ironically one of the most famous reports of the stunning birds occurred in the area of the Sebastian River and its confluence of the Indian River Lagoon.  A local man, Chuck Fulton, whose relation was my principal at Martin County High School, seems to have guided Chapman thorough the areas as a lad when he stayed at Oak Lodge in Sebastian where his great-great grandmother lived. (Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

Mind you Frank Chapman was like a movie star of his day. This would have been very exciting for young Chuck. “Frank Michler Chapman”—scientist, explorer, author, editor,  photographer, lecturer, and museum curator, —-one of the most influential naturalist and greatest ornithologists of his era.

In a book “Letters to Brevard County” shared by my mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Chapman accounts his travels of our region:

Frank Chapman
Frank M. Chapman

“The Sebastian is a beautiful river, no words of mine can adequately describe it.” Half a mile wide at its mouth, it narrows rapidly and three miles above appears as a mere stream which at our camp, eight miles up, was not more than fifty feet in width and about fifteen feet in-depth. Its course is exceedingly irregular and winding. The banks as we found them are high and for some distance from the water grown with palms and cypresses which arching meet overhead forming most enchanting vistas, and in many places there is a wild profusion of blooming convolvulus and moon flower…Here we observed about fifty colorful paroquets, in flocks of six to twenty. At an early hour, they left their roost in the hammock bordering the river, and passed out into the pines to feed….

In the “spirit of the day” Chapman goes on to describe how unafraid the birds were of him and then shoots a few birds for “science,” leaving alone those that come to the rescues of their fallen comrades…..

In all fairness, it must be noted Chapman also appealed to President Teddy Roosevelt to establish Pelican Island as a national preserve– which in time became the first U.S. National Wildlife Refuge, (also in Sebastian),  and he is also credited with starting the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, where birds are counted, and not shot. Even today “scientific” specimens must be killed in order to be recorded as a new species. One day perhaps a photograph will be sufficient. 

Quite a story….and so close to home.

So next time you see a brown pelican gracefully flying past, picture a flock of fifty, squawking, colorful parakeets happily trailing behind. What a colorful world our Indian River Lagoon must have been!

Carolina Parakeet drawing 1800s. Public image.
Carolina Parakeet art piece 1800s. Public image.

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Thank you to my mother Sandra H. Thurlow for the content to write this blog post.

Carolina Parakeet: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina_parakeet)
Extinct birds: (http://www.50birds.com/birds/extinct-birds.htm)

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8-25-15 10PM: I am including a photos and comment sent to me by Dr. Paul Grey, Okeechobee Science Coordinator, Florida Audubon. Very interesting!

“Jacqui, thanks for the parakeet story. Look at the tags on these parakeets, these are the skins of the birds Chapman shot that still are in the Museum of Natural History in NY. There is a statue of the bird at the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve that Todd McGrain did for his Lost Bird Project…Worth seeing.” —Paul Grey

*NOTE THE LITTLE CARD THAT SAYS “SEBASTIAN RIVER!”

Chapman's birds, Museum of Natural History. (Paul Grey)
Chapman’s birds, Museum of Natural History. (Paul Grey)
Carolina Parakeet sculpture by (Paul Grey)
Carolina Parakeet sculpture at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, by Todd McGrain. (Paul Grey)

Lost Bird Project: (http://www.lostbirdproject.org/)