Tag Archives: State of Emergency

Wildlife’s Toxic Algae “State of Emergency,” Their Unheard Cries, SLR/IRL

Alligator...
Alligator swimming in toxic algae…Central Marine.

We are in a State of Emergency…

The Army Corp of Engineers has been discharging from Lake Okeechobee since January 29th and toxic algae from the lake has been released into our St Lucie River. We are being invaded. This is horrific for the people, but what about the animals? Thank God someone is documenting their plight….

Facebook friend, Rebecca Fatzinger, is not only a voice for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, but for its wildlife. With the cries of the people “loud and clear” sometimes it seems the animals are but an afterthought for our local, state, and federal government.

I can’t help but wonder….

The Florida Wildlife Commission? The Department of Environmental Protection–have you written a statement about the wildlife implications of this bloom? What are you thinking? Are you allowed to say?

How could the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon once have been the most bio-diverse estuary in North America? How could we be home to some the state’s most important aquatic preserves?

Thank you to Rebecca for documenting and giving us an up close look as the animals try to cope.

Heartbreaking. Disturbing. Disgusting….

This is home?

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Manatee....
Manatee….SLR
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Little Blue Heron...
Little Blue Heron…SLR
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…Limpkin
Dove
Dove
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Seagull at on shoreline of Atlantic Ocean
Seagull at on shoreline of Atlantic Ocean, Bathtub Beach.
Seagull up close
Seagull up close
Pelicans diving in toxic algae--this bloom came back at from DEP 414 mpl.
Pelicans diving in toxic algae–this bloom came back at from DEP 414 mpl. Bathtub Beach.
Pelicans
Pelicans
St Lucie River wide water
St Lucie River wide water looking towards Roosevelt bridge.
Crab...
Crab…
Duck
Duck
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Ducks...
Duck with baby duck…
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Night Heron..
Night Heron..
Water coming out of St Lucie Locks from Lake Okeechobee with visible algae
Water coming out of St Lucie Locks from Lake Okeechobee with visible algae
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….Little Blue Heron eyes dead fish in algae
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
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Oysters
Oysters
Anhinga
Anhinga
Osprey waits out rain to hunt below...
Osprey waits out rain to hunt below…
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Armored catfish
Armored catfish
Western side of C-44 Canal at S-80, St Lucie Locks and Dam. This structure discharges water from Lake Okeechobee and the agricultural basin created to drain lands into the St Lucie River/IRL. (Photo Dr Scott Kuhns, 6-22-16)
Western side of C-44 Canal at S-80, St Lucie Locks and Dam. Algae can be seen going through S80 into the SLR hurting wildlife and people.  (Photo Dr Scott Kuhns, 6-22-16)
St Lucie Locks and Dam 6-25-16 Dr Scott Kuhns
St Lucie Locks and Dam 6-25-16 Dr Scott Kuhns
Megan Remnick also Facebook
This one is from Megan Remnick also Facebook friend…
Aerial of S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Visible algae flowing through S-80 from western area of C-44 towards the St Lucie River. Photo Ed Lippisch.
Aerial of S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Visible algae flowing through S-80 from western area of C-44 towards the St Lucie River. Photo Ed Lippisch.
St Lucie Locks and Dam 6-21-16
St Lucie Locks and Dam 6-21-16 JTL
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Vulture
Vulture
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image and is connected to Lake Okeechobee.

THANK YOU TO REBECCA FATZINGER FOR SHARING HER PHOTOS!

7-12-16  NOTE: Although there are no photographs of bottlenose dolphins in this series they are certainly swimming in algae waters further from shore where the algae is more “particulate.”  Yesterday, I spoke with Nic Mader of Dolphin Ecology Project and she said she has seen dolphins swimming around in their “normal” areas on her runs. The animals are very “sit specific” (territorial) like people.  I also called Dr Gregory Bossert now of Georgia Aquarium formerly of Harbor Branch and his response was that this is just one more layer in an already health-affecting system— noting the animals sicknesses such as low immune system, lobo mycosis, and lessons the animal have been prone to for over 15 years since HERA Heath Environmental Risk Assessment began.  Nic has stated if she gets photos she can share she will.

This blog post I wrote in 2014 about dolphin health and freshwater pollution may be insightful: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/06/26/fresh-water-pollution-a-destructive-force-in-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/
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AGENCIES TO ASSIST; please contact them.

FWC:http://myfwc.com

DEP:http://www.dep.state.fl.us/mainpage/default.htm

SFWMD:http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page

“State of Emergency” Halts Northern Waters, but Not Lake’s Algae Waters, SLR/IRL

2. Lake O alae 6 26 2016
1. Lake O algae 6 26 2016
Map of bloom
Map of bloom
2. Lake O alae 6 26 2016
2. Lake O algae 6 26 2016
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image. S-308 is at the lake, Port Mayaca and S-80 along the C-44 canal. Both discharge into SLR.

Today’s photos were taken by Dr Gary Goforth this past Sunday.  During a trip, he flew over Lake Okeechobee.

He writes: “Jacqui–The photos are of the southeast part of Lake; the plane had just passed over Clewiston and is headed northeast. The city of Pahokee is visible along the upper right shoreline. The FPL reservoir is visible in the background. The bloom is enormous – easily over 100 sq miles in extent, although areas are patchy.” GG

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STATE OF EMERGENCY

It’s hard to understand state of emergencies.

Martin County waters are experiencing  their third “state of emergency” since 2013–two of those being this year in 2016.

Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott declared one, after our county commission declared one first, over the blue-green algae blooms in the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean —I am very grateful.

What I do not understand is that when you really read between the lines, we will continue to be under siege.

After one sifts through the words of the declaration there are basic things that stand:  the emergency order directs Water Management Districts and the Florida Wildlife Commission to stop flows into the lake as soon as possible coming from the north. It also allows a waiver of requirements to purchase pumps to move water south, and increases water testing.

This is all good and well, but there is one problem. This means the discharges from the lake continue– perhaps lessened, but they will continue…full of the same algae that is causing the emergency in the first place. And the lake is very high at 14.90. The dumping could go on for months even if no new water enters the lake from the north…

Until the gates at S-308 and S-80 are closed we will suffer. Like having the dike too high is a safety issue for those south of the lake, sending the lake’s algae waters to the St Lucie River is a safety issue too. Take a look.

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ACOE Lake O: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml

Rick Scott’s site: (http://www.flgov.com/2016/06/29/gov-scott-declares-state-of-emergency-in-st-lucie-and-martin-counties-following-algal-blooms/)

Simplified Emergency Order and short article Stuart Magazine: (http://www.stuartmagazine.com/up-front/noteworthy/gov-rick-scott-declares-state-emergency-over-blue-green-algae-blooms)

 

From: "Wesley Scott"
From: “Wesley Scott” <wes@indianrivershutter.com>
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Looking at Our Barrier Islands Through New Eyes, SRL/Indian River Lagoon

 

Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean through and old black mangrove that was exposed by erosion of Bath Tub Beach,  2009.
Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean through and ancient black mangrove that was exposed by erosion off of Bathtub Beach.. (Photo 2009, JTL)

There have been many times over thousands of years that the ocean has broken through Hutchinson Island and flowed into the Indian River Lagoon off of Sewall’s Point. Most recently, in 2004, after hurricanes Jeanne and Francis.  Also in the early 1960s, at Peck’s Lake*, on Jupiter Island.  But of course we “repair” the areas and “put them back”…for a little while anyway….

Peck's Lake breakthrough 1948, Jupiter Island. (Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives, from the book "Sewall's Point," by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Peck’s Lake breakthrough ca. 1960, Jupiter Island. (Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives, from the book “Sewall’s Point,” by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

I have been fortunate the past few years in my river photography to see the island by air in my husband’s airplane; it never ceases to amaze me that Hutchinson Island, as all barrier islands, is really just a ribbon of sand….

So, of course Mother Nature comes  through….

Sand piled hight at Bathtub Beach, 2014.
Sand piled hight at Bathtub Beach. (Photo 12-10-14, JTL)

Bathtub Beach is an area that Nature seems determined to reclaim soon. Yesterday, as many, I drove to see the “State of Emergency” claimed by Martin County at Bathtub Beach.

Looking to the ocean....
Looking to the ocean….(Photo 12-10-14, JTL)

There was a young couple that had scaled the piled protective sand and I struck up a conversation with them.

“Hi, I’m Jacqui. This is amazing isn’t it?”

The young man replied: “Yeah we came yesterday, and the waves were 10 to 12 feet!” The water was all the way up to this fake dune. Look, you can see the sand is still wet.”

Former Wentworth house, Bathtub Beach, 2014.
Former Wentworth house, Bathtub Beach.  (Photo  12-10-14, JTL)

“Wow,” I exclaimed. “Yes, I have seen this before. It’s incredible. You just have to wonder if one day the ocean will come through so hard she takes it all. This would be terrible for the people who live here…”

The response from the young man?

“Well, at least the river will be cleaner….”

I was amazed to see how far the river culture has expanded, and perhaps the values of a younger generation…

Rather than get into a political conversation with a nice young couple just here to explore, I said how nice it was to meet them, and ran down the sand pile in my high heels to get to my car before I got a ticket.

Wormrock at Bathtub Beach 2009.
Wormrock at Bathtub Beach (Photo 2009, JTL)

At 50 years now, I have known our beaches since I was a kid walking around on the worm reef catching fish with a homemade net, before we knew that was “bad” for it. During my youth, the older generation began to really build on Hutchinson Island, which was not such a good idea either….The same goes for the low areas of the Town of Sewall’s Point, across the Indian River, where I live and sit on the town commission. These areas are very vulnerable. It’s a problem.

So how do we deal with this “realization,” that we have built on Mother Natures’ front line? Do we retreat, as in war, knowing we will never win, or do we harden our areas reinforcing the shoreline and our homes as long as we can? Do we spend millions of dollars putting concrete seawalls and dredged sand on our shorelines that will surely eventually wash away and each time, not to mention it covers and destroys our “protected” off shore reefs and sea grasses?

These are the difficult questions, and if we follow the model of South Florida that has been dealing with these issues of sea level rise, and just the “normality” of living on a shifting sandbar that God wants to roll over on itself like a conveyor belt, every few hundred to a thousand years, we have some big problems ahead of us. We can reinforce our shorelines and raise our houses, but in the end, Nature will win. In our short lifetimes, we may not see the “grand change,” but our children and grandchildren will.

For instance, the photo at the beginning of this blog is an ancient black mangrove with a hole in it looking towards the ocean. These mangroves are exposed during high erosion because Hutchinson Island is rolling over on itself. This is called “transgression.”

To repeat, much of the construction on barrier islands happened before people fully understood that these places are particularly volatile.  The clues have been accumulating for decades: beachfronts are thinning, storms regularly swallow dunes and send sand flowing to the far side of the island…  Slowly, geologists and government entities have realized  that the very nature of barrier islands truly  is to “roll over,” typically toward the mainland, as waves and weather erode one side and build up the other. Barrier island ecology is not fully understood; there are many theories. It is complex, but some things we understand now…

Thus when the erosion is greatest, the remnants of an ancient mangrove swamp on the ocean side of the island can be seen….Kind of bizarre isn’t it?

What do they say? “The only constant is change.”

Yes, times are changing, the climate and the oceans are warming; no matter the reason, this has happened before. Our job, as it always has been, is to adapt. But in the world of money, real estate, and ad-valorum tax values to governments—along the Indian River Lagoon, this may never occur, until the ocean is truly upon us…

Ancient swamp on ocean side....
Ancient swamp on ocean side…..(Photo 2009, JTL)
view towards Sailfish Point...2009
Northerly view of Bathtub Beach and exposed ancient mangrove swamp….(Photo 2009, JTL)
Today even with high erosion the ancient mangrove swamp is under the sand. You can see one sticking up...
Today even with high erosion the ancient mangrove swamp is under the sand. You can see one sticking up…(Photo 12-10-14, JTL)
This photo that I found pn Nyla Pipes Facebook page. The view of ocean action along the Atlantic Coast is very telling....
This photo that I found on water/river activist Nyla Pipes’ Facebook page. The view of ocean action along the Atlantic Coast is very telling….

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NOAA, Coastal Hazards: (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/hazards/natural-hazards/)

Barrier Islands: HOW STUFF WORKS: (http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/conservation/issues/barrier-island6.htm)

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*Originally, I wrote” 1948: as well as “1960” in this blog post as the years that Peck’s Lake opened. Due to communication with my mother, historian, Sandra H. Thurlow, I have changed my blog to say only “1960s.” She believes there was an error in a  photograph used in her book, “Sewall’s Point,” in that the photo she used in her book said 1948 but she now, after seeing old shared photos from John Whiticar, thinks this date is incorrect. Please read below:

Peck’s Lake Inlet        

The photograph of a wash over at Peck’s Lake in Sewall Point on page 19 is identified as “1948” because it an 8 x 10 print in the Ruhnke/Conant Collection we purchase had that date written on the back.

Year later I began to suspect this was in error.

The clincher was a group of photos that John Whiticar came across that were obviously from Ruhnke which included the washout I had labeled 1948 with others that were obviously from the 1960s because of a flower farm in the background. There were also photos of the drowned trees and Ruhnke family photos of a visit to Peck’s Lake.

A Nov. 11. 1963 article in the Stuart News about Inlet worked said, “Also in April of this year the Martin County Commission passed a resolution asking the Corps of Engineers to take action to insure the boating public would always have as safe an inlet from the ocean as was available at that time through the storm-opened Peck’s Lake Inlet, closed by the Corps this past summer. 

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12-30-14 I received the numbers on costs from Martin County for beach re-nourishment over the years; I am adding the list here as a photo so I can share it with  comments on this blog:

Beach Renourishment Numbers from Martin County 2014.
Beach Renourishment Numbers from Martin County 2014.