Tag Archives: silver springs

Silver Manatees Inspire, SLR/IRL

Silver Springs, photo Dr Robert Knight

With the mid-term election behind us, it’s time to get to work, and along the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River that means it’s time to get reconnected to Nature during the cool season before the Algae Monster arrives again.

Last week, as the keynote speaker for the Florida Springs Restoration Summit in Ocala, I had an amazing back to nature experience.  On a Silver River Guided Paddle Adventure with Dr Robert  Knight leading the way, five manatees swam underneath my kayak!

Five manatees!

They looked so beautiful, so graceful, so confident, and so powerful!

I could see them perfectly through the clear water of Silver Springs. During the summit, I learned that only recently the spring’s water magnitude had increased to historic levels ~after aquifer recharge of a very rainy 2017, thanks to Hurricane Irma.

Florida springs suffer from lack of water because the Water Management Districts, at the direction of their leaders, over-permit water extraction for more agriculture and development. Also, nutrient pollution haunts the spring-shed due to nitrate leaching of old septic tanks. When flow is low and nitrate high, benthic algae grows on the once white sand bottom of the springs. Almost all Florida springs deal with this issue.

Manatees, Silver River, Dr Robert Knight

But on this recent day, the day of my tour,  Silver Springs was glistening, and its bottom bursting with eel grass. The manatees munched at their leisure, mothers and calves reflecting a bluish hue underneath the clear, streaming water.

As the manatees swam under my little boat, I felt a joy unknown since childhood. “An ancient herd of elephants just swam under my kayak!” I thought, laughing out loud.

And in this moment of pure inspiration, I recalled an image from home of a starving manatee struggling to eat weeds and grasses along the Intercostal. Of course after years of harsh discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals, the sea grass forests are dead.

Beyond heartbreaking…

I brought my mind back to this present gift before me. And told the Silver manatees I would  return home inspired to fight for all, and that were were indeed, one Florida water family.

Image pulled off my iPhone, #Toxic18 site 10-28-18, Rita Hendricks Salazar

 

Links:

Silver Springs: http://www.silversprings.com

Springs Institute:https://floridaspringsinstitute.org

2018 Springs Restoration Summit:
https://www.springsrestorationsummit.org

Dr Knight Bio: https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/our-team/

Silver Springs Study Delayed, Gainesville Sun, Dr Robert Knight,:https://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20180118/robert-knight-silver-springs-study-delayed-restorative-action

The Dream of the Roseate Spoonbill, St Lucie River/IRL–Blog Break

Roseate Spoonbill image, public. http://7-themes.com/6946210-roseate-spoonbill.html)
Roseate Spoonbill image, public. (http://7-themes.com/6946210-roseate-spoonbill.html)
Close up of a roseate spoonbill, public photo.
Close up of a wet and happy roseate spoonbill, public photo.

I imagine if there is a dream of the roseate spoonbill, it would be for more water to be on the land…The recent heavy rains and local flooding have been a smorgasbord and reminder of better days for our local shore bird communities.

Last week, while driving by the county jail on Willoughby Boulevard , I witnessed a variety of shore birds in the flooded grasses behind the barbed-wire fence: great egrets, white egrets, blue herons, little blue herons, wood storks, a menagerie of ducks, and four beautiful pink roseate spoonbills!  I got out of my car and peered through the fence….Amazing I thought…”was this area too once wetlands?”

In Sewall’s Point, a group of as many a ten were reported foraging  both along North and South Sewall’s Point Roads. What a sight! People stopping in their cars to see…taking pictures and posting on Facebook.

In the past few years, it has been reported by Martin County and Audubon that the spoonbills are nesting on Bird Island just off the Archipelago in Sewall’s Point. This was never reported before. Nancy Beaver of Sunshine Wildlife Tours documents their progress…

Roseate spoonbills along N Sewall's Point Road, photo Dr Dave Carson, 2013.
Roseate spoonbills along N Sewall’s Point Road, photo courtesy of  Dr Dave Carson, 2015.
Roseate spoonbill photo from my Greg Braun/Bird Island file, 2013.
Roseate spoonbill photo from my Greg Braun/Bird Island file, 2012.

We humans complain when there is flooding; the shore birds love it, as this was their habitat before we drained the lands for agriculture and development. “Couldn’t there be a way to have both?”

This I think would be the dream of the roseate spoonbill…

I will be taking a blog break as this week I will be traveling to Silver Springs with University of Florida’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, (http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu)
Florida springs, like Florida’s estuaries —–such as the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, are in big trouble. Agriculture and development’s impacts have impaired the springs that were once the symbol of our state tourism industry. Read this 2013 NPR story for more details: (http://www.npr.org/2013/04/13/177105692/before-disney-floridas-silver-springs-lured-tourists)

Have a good week, and when you are driving be sure to look up and see the dream of the roseate spoonbill–it is really the dream of all.