“Jacqui, about 1968-9 my 4 hunting buddies and I went hunting in Indiantown in the Barley Swamp, there were huge cypress trees laying over?? Also walking through woods we came up on a mountain,”large Indian mound.” I have never found anyone who knew about the mound. Mid 70s I built a house that all the interior was don w/cypress from Barley Swamp, a sawmill north of Okeechobee cut it. Years later I was talking to a man I built for and he said his brother worked for FPL digging the dike, when digging, he found a carved stone face about 3x2x10 that “I thought looked like images found in Mexico and south,” I guess FPL might have dug up that mound…”
I’d like to thank Boo for his comment questioning why there were gigantic felled cypress trees in Barley Barber Swamp as late as 1968/69. I had written in my blog that according to a 1930 Stuart News article, most of the cypress and pine trees five miles NW of Indiantown were timbered from 1920 through the later years of the 1930s.
Well, my brother Todd and I went back and tried to deduce a theory. The theory is that the timber companies, as reported in the July, 19, 1930 Stuart News article, had cut most of the trees “five miles west of Indiantown,” but no matter how they tried, their trams and tracks and axes and saws could not reach the deep interior of the swamp. Its heart! So some of the largest trees, as Boo, notes, were felled later, leading up to Florida Power and Lights digging, construction and diking of its Indiantown cooling reservoir.
For perspective, Todd shades below the visible dark river shape of Barley Barber Swamp over a 1940s Department of Agriculture aerial. The shaded area is 3078 acres or 4.81 square miles.
Below, in these Florida Department of Transportation aerials from 1971, at a lower altitude, we can clearly see the Barley Barber Swamp and encroaching agricultural lands that have already been cleared and de-stumped.
The remaining and distinctive thimble shape of Barley Barber Swamp remains today as seen in the 1971/Google Earth 2023 comparison. This would have been just two or three years after Boo Lowrey and his hunting buddy visited the area in 1968/69 and witnessed the giant cypress trees lying on their sides.
Todd also created a remarkable slider for comparison.
By 1974, the remaining cypress forest of the once great Barley Barber Swamp was being burned, smoke rising to Heaven, to make way for the reservoir as can be viewed and compared in the slides below.
Heartbreaking. But as I am often told such is “progress.” I disagree.
And the Indian Mound? Of course it was right were the FPL reservoir was today. Boo saw it before most of it was drowned. It is no reach to make this deduction as Big Mound City is known worldwide as “the largest prehistoric Native American earthwork in southeastern Florida.” It was huge and lies a few miles south from Indiantown, not far from the lake, in J.W. Corbett Wildlife Area. These were ancient “cities” along Lake Okeechobee. In fact, when Indiantown was named “Annie” in 1915, long after the native people were gone, the year the St. Lucie Canal was started, there was actually an Everglades Drainage District survey documenting the road from Annie to Big Mound City. Indiantown to Big Mound City? Not far at all.
Hi everyone. I wanted to share an email written to me by Todd Thurlow yesterday that really made me smile. It shows that we are getting closer to the ACOE halting Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St Lucie River as the lake level is approaching where the Corps wants it to be prior to next hurricane season. And today was so sunny, not a cloud in the sky, surely the lake is even lower. Check eyeonlakeo.com. Have a great weekend!
With the top of the Eco envelope flat at 14.5ft between 3/15 and 4/1, it looks like we are catching up and could get down in the envelope soon.
(By my calcs – I had to interpolate the top and bottom on my own a while back with no publicly available table to find). The 0.27ft number also appears live on the banner of eyeonlakeo.com. I hadn’t looked at it in a while until I was talking to Lt. Col. Polk today at Rivers Coalition and checked it on my phone. We are only +3.2 inches above to Top, as shown on the banner.
Today I share “on the water” visual reporting by my brother, Todd Thurlow. On Saturday, March 18, 2023, Todd and family took a boat ride to the popular Sandbar area just inside the St Lucie Inlet of Martin County. This is a region my husband Ed and I have been documenting since the 500 cubic foot per second discharges from Lake Okeechobee began by the Army Corp of Engineers on January 22, 2023. First there was no algae reported then there was. The ACOE has started and stopped at least three times as reported by TCPalm, but now with the weather cool the gates are again open.
For months, from the air, the historic seagrass beds have looked like a desert.
Todd’s pictures close up, on the water, show some life and give hope that by June or August there may be more lush seagrass meadows as retuned in 2022. Sprigs of seagrass, although light, are visible along with young welch, conch, and moon snails. Wading birds and sea birds can be seen feeding on and around the flats. Rays or manatees take off -hiding in sand cover. Such a beautiful place! This area and its critters are protected; be careful and thoughtful when boating here. It is an Indian River Lagoon aquatic preserve.
Ravaged by discharges from Lake Okeechobee in 2013, 2016, and 2018, the SLR/IRL does not need any Lake O water, this particularly holds true when blue green algae has been reported by the SFWMD, ACOE, FDEP, and the public.
Thank you Todd for this documentation 3-18-23 taken around 11: 50 am.
Thank you for FWC – Florida Wildlife Commission- for creating these IRL Aquatic Preserve signage to help educate and protect seagrasses. Please share! IRL A.P. 18-24 large seagrass_sgn
Todd Thurlow is the author of the website eyeonlakeo.com for “science for the everyday person.”
Today I am trying my hand at posting while mobile. So if the two YouTube videos I share do not come through and eyeonlakeo.com is not linked I apologize.
Many of you who follow my blog know my brother’s “Time Capsule Flights, “and his web site eyeonlake.com. Todd and I have worked together for many years documenting South Florida’s water history-past and present.
For this post, by going back and forth between present and past Google Earth images, Todd gives us a comparative view of what just was and now is. Hard to watch, but important to know. Next time it could be any of us. Our hearts are with Florida’s West Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
In July a post I wrote, “At Low Tide,“ made many waves of happiness as our seagrass recovery (albeit with macro-algae) was suddenly visible. Today I share “At Mid Tide,” not as dramatic, but certainly worth documenting as it too shows the improving state of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon since the damaging and toxic Lake O discharges of 2013, 2016 and 2018 eradicated all seagrasses.
These photos were taken at different times of day on Sunday, August 14, 2022 in the area of the St Lucie Inlet between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island – an area often locally referred to as the “Sand Bar,” including Sailfish Flats.
Incorporated are photos from my sister Jenny, my brother Todd, friend Mary Radabaugh, and me. All on the water with family/friends on the same day! Ed and I were late getting out, and the tide was receding. While about, Ed and I are very careful not to disturb the budding seagrasses -staying on the edge. All mollusks/sea life if photographed is immediately returned to its original location. This habitat is delicate!
Yet another recent wonderful day on the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon since there have been no major damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee in over three years and Mother Nature has not thrown a hurricane our way…
Approaching Ernie Lyons Bridge from Jensen Boat RampDo you see the fighting conch’s blue eyes? Video below gives perspective:
My sister’s photos: Zella-Sand Bar, earlier incoming tide, Jenny Flaugh
My brother’s photos: Todd Thurlow – daughter Julia water skiing off the House of Refuge
Mary Radabaugh, friend and nature photographer: Osprey & blue sky near Boy Scout Island
~Our wildlife, sea and sky, needs our continued support for a healthy St Lucie!
I posted most of these photos on Facebook, but today I will give explanations and document on my blog. From above, our St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon remains beautiful, but we must be sensitive to the losses beneath the waters. These aerials were taken during a “slack tide” between 12 and 2pm on December 9, 2020 by my husband, Ed Lippisch. December 9th was the last of five days the ACOE stopped discharging from Lake Okeechobee; however S-80 was discharging “local runoff.” (Click on chart above.) Unfortunately, due to high lake level and lack of storage reservoirs, since these aerials were taken, the ACOE has begun ramping up Lake discharges once again.
Below Lawrence Glenn of the South Florid Water Management gives a comprehensive ecological report covering low-salinities and loss of oyster spat in the St Lucie and other aspects, positive and negative, for the entire Everglades system.
Below is an explanation of aerials documenting discharges December 9, 2020. All photos by Ed Lippisch.
-S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam discharging local basin S-80 runoff on December 9, 2020
S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee closed on December 9, 2020. No algae visible.
-Plume of along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet
-Dispersing plume in Atlantic Ocean just past Peck’s Lake in Jupiter Narrows
-St Lucie Inlet -St Lucie Inlet State Park, Sailfish Point, Sewall’s Point, Stuart, Jensen
-Looking north to Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. This area has greatly degraded since 2013 as far as loss of seagrasses and fishing opportunities
-The area below, especially around Sailfish Point, was once considered “the most biodiverse estuary in North America” as documented, first, by Grant Gilmore
-This photo reveals seagrass loss across many areas of the Sailfish Flats
-Another view between Sewall’s and Sailfish Point, a seeming desert…
-Close up, Sailfish Point
-Sewall’s Point, east Indian River Lagoon
-Sewall’s Point is a peninsula surrounded by the St Lucie River on west side, and Indian River Lagoon on east side
Ed Lippisch, selfie. Thank you Ed!
As you can tell, I have lots of people helping me. Whether it is Ed flying or my brother Todd who provides an incredible easy to read website called EyeonLakeO. You can click below to check it out. The more we know, the more we document, the more we can overturn the destruction of our beloved estuary…
“Thank you Jacqui! While this is bad for the East Coast, the West Coast has been inundated with nonstop discharges from Lake O. Can your brother update his Caloosahatchee chart to include 2020?” Mike Downing
Mind you, these numbers measured from S-79 (comparable to the St Lucie’s S-80) include basin runoff and Lake Okeechobee discharges. As of 12-1-20, the brown line of 2020 is creeping higher, just under 2018, to 1,409,269 acre feet! That’s one foot of water on 1,409,269 acres of land!
If we want to see a break-out of basin and Lake O discharges to the Caloosahatchee, we can view SFWMD, Division Director of Water Resources, Lawrence Glenn’s draft slide for the upcoming, December 10, South Florida Water Management District Meeting. (See below.)
In a color coordinated way, Lawrence’s chart splits out the basin and Lake Okeechobee discharges over the course of 2020. Look at all the dark blue representing Lake O in late October, November, and December. Also, look at all the basin runoff (green and gray)For Lawrence’s entire presentation -which includes the St Lucie- click here.
As a non scientist, non-technical type, what I notice looking at Todd and Lawrence’s charts is that although there has been notable discharge in 2020, the water was released by the ACOE later in the year. This is significant.
Back to Todd’s chart:
If you want to learn even more, use my brother’s eyeonlakeoacre feet calculator to get a visual for 1,409,269 acre feet of water. 1,409,262 acre feet would put 33.66 inches of water on the land area of Lee County and 48.66 inches of water on land area of Martin County!! Mind boggling! See here or chart below.
What helps keep things in perspective for me is a map created in 2019 by the SFWMD based on the famous historic 1913 Harshberger map that makes very clear -colored in light baby blue- the water that once covered the central and southern portion of Florida. The majority of this water is now sent through the Calooshahatee and St Lucie Estuaries…
A Ten Year View, Discharges to the St Lucie Estuary
Today I share images that help tell the story of the St Lucie Estuary over the past ten years. The first image is from the website eyeonlakeo. My brother, Todd Thurlow, takes data from D-Hydro of the SFWMD and puts it into a format that the average person can understand.
The chart above shows the “S-80 spillway at St Lucie Locks’ cumulative discharges by CALENDAR YEAR, 2011-2020.”
Scientists use Water Years, May 1 of one year, through April 30 of the next year. This splits up the years making it more confusing to remember or understand. We, as people, live our lives in calendar years.
We can see by looking at Todd’s chart that 2016’s calendar year is highest overall discharge year with 842,775 acre feet (one foot of water covering one acre) of water going to the St Lucie from what is called “local runoff” (all canals and surrounding areas) as well as discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
How large is 842,775 acres? Comparatively, Martin County is 347, 520 acres. 2020 is 188,723 acre feet and climbing. We are talking tremendous amounts of water!
In descending order, we see 2016; 2013; 2017; 2018; 2015; 2020; 2012; 2014; 2019; and 2011. The brown of line of 2020 crests 2015 as when the year is completed, 2020 will more than likely be higher than 2015.
“Could you please get me a chart or graph showing discharges to the St Lucie River for 2012-2020 by month. Please present this information from January through December of each calendar year and break it out from S-80 and S-308 and also give a total combined number. Please also note for each of those calendar years, the highest level Lake Okeechobee got that year.”
To view this information, click on Charts in red below for visuals, and data in red below for numerical charts. As mentioned this information below is from the SFWMD. This compiled information provides great perspective.
I, as many, participated in yesterday’s Army Corp of Engineers‘ Periodic Scientist Call. During the course of the call, it was alluded that the ACOE may be letting up or halting Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St Lucie Estuary soon. As soon as they do, we will begin to chart calendar year 2021. All things considered, everything in me believes it will be better than 2020!
Today is October 26, these photos/videos were taken over the weekend on October 24, 2020. The first is the St Lucie River looking off the Evan’s Crary Bridge at Sewall’s Point; the second is a video of the St Lucie River taken between Rio and Stuart; and the third is a video of a brown ocean at Peck’s Lake. The St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and much of the east coast of South Florida have endured tremendous, repetitive downpours in 2020, causing massive “local basin runoff.” The St Lucie has been stressed for months, and since October 14, there are also discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Prior to that, there had been no Lake O discharges since March of 2019. This post is written to document this discharge era for today and for later reference.
1-Video visual water quality from boat, wide St Lucie River near Rio 10-24-20
2-Video visual water coloring, Atlantic Ocean at Peck’s Lake, south of St Lucie Inlet 10-24-20
DOCUMENTING THE DISCHARGES 2020
Covid-19, an active hurricane season, and the 2020 presidential election have captured our attention, but most of know, as this Tyler Treadway Stuart News article reports, much to our dismay, due to a high rate of Lake Okeechobee rise, and after weeks of media briefings, and warnings, a reluctant ACOE started discharging to the St Lucie River on October 14th. Thankfully, for much of the time, it has been difficult due King Tides. The discharges are expected at least another week longer if not a month depending weather and rainfall from Tropical Storm Zeta. See link below from the ACOE’s most recent, 10-20-20, Periodic Scientist Call for more info.
The most comprehensive place to keep track of all this is Todd Thurlow’s website (http://eyeonlakeo.com) that provides a multitude of easily interpreted information. Check it every day, especially LIVE DATA and Satelitte NCCOS HAB images of Lake Okeechobee.
Michael Conner, THE INDIAN RIVERKEEPER keeps an active Facebook page on Lake O discharge and other local issues and is often on the ground reporting.
Also on 10-14-20 The Florida Department of Environmental Protection put out a press release: “Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Preparation for Algae Bloom Mitigation Following Announcement by Corps of Releases From Lake O.” This technology has not been needed thus far.
I can’t forget to include that October 11, 2020, right before the discharges began, Ed and I took this video documenting a significant algae bloom in the middle of Lake Okeechobee. Since that time it has been too stormy, or cloudy to go up. Usually, rain and lack of sunshine minimize visual blue-green algae blooms as can be seen on Todd’s website. The algae does remain in the water column. This image/video was shared by many news stations and posted on Facebook.
3-Large algae bloom in middle of Lake Okeechobee, 10-11-20.
Next , I would like to document Florida Oceanographic CEO, Mark Perry’s recent op-ed as it gives us pause. “Why can’t, why aren’t we able to send more water south?” We know a lot has been done, and we are grateful, however, 2020 is not 1948, we must continue to advocate for a better water future…
OP-ED MARK PERRY, PUBLISHED IN STUART NEWS, October 15, 2020
Lake Okeechobee discharges can go south now.
As the water level rises in Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering discharges to the coastal estuaries, the St. Lucie to the east and Caloosahatchee to the west.
According to the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule, the Corps considers where the lake level is at this time of year within the “operational band,” which ranges from 10.50 to 17.25 feet of elevation. Then, based on the rainfall outlook and tributary conditions, they determine “allowable Lake Okeechobee releases” to the water conservation areas and to the estuaries.
The water conservation areas (900,000 acres) are the remnant Everglades, south of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) which is the 700,000 acres immediately south of the lake used primarily for growing sugarcane.
For “allowable Lake Okeechobee releases” to the estuaries, the Corps has specify flow amounts going to each estuary, which can be “up to 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to the Caloosahatchee and 1,800 cfs to the St. Lucie.”
That is where they are right now with the lake at 16.02 feet elevation.
But the “allowable” releases to the water conservation areas are always “up to maximum practicable.” What does that mean? Well, they rarely talk about how much they can release to the water conservation areas, and never tell us how much should be considered to go south.
In fact, water has been flowing south into the water conservation areas all throughout this wet season, May through October.
But it is not coming from the lake.
About 955,000 acre feet (311 billion gallons) has been going into the water conservation areas from the EAA basin runoff. This means that they are keeping the EAA water table down to 10.5 feet — ideal for crops — by draining all this water through our 57,000 acres of stormwater treatment areas and into the water conservation areas — the Everglades.
Meanwhile, the Corps says they must discharge Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries because they can’t release it to the south. Well, they can — they have been doing it for months and they still are today, but it is all coming from the EAA basin runoff!
All this time, we could have been releasing lake water to the water conservation areas, and we could do the same right now instead of killing the estuaries with releases and wasting this water to tide.
But for that to happen, we need to tell the EAA to store and treat runoff on their own land so the stormwater treatment areas can be used for water flowing south from Lake Okeechobee.
The Corps and South Florida Water Management District are jointly responsible for managing water in south Florida. We need to have them focus on restoring more natural water storage and treatment north of the lake, in the 2.5 million acre watershed, so the lake doesn’t fill up so fast.
But we must also get them to flow south from the lake to the Everglades during the wet and dry seasons. We don’t have to wait for huge regional projects to be authorized and completed, we can do this now.
The lake is rising quickly because the EAA is using the capacity to send water south. Agricultural interests would like it to stay high because during the dry season, November thru April, the EAA will demand water from the Lake, about 350,000 acre feet, as water supply for their crops.
These are ideal conditions for the EAA, but not so good for the lake, the greater Everglades ecosystem and the coastal estuaries.
Mark Perry is executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart.
Below are Florida Oceanographic’s most recent St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon water quality reports
Finally: During Rivers Coalition meeting 10-22-20 more expansive documentation/reporting of on-going seagrass loss/slow recovery in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon was requested. It was noted that SFWMD “Ecological Reports” cover only two historical seagrass areas of the once lush and healthy Sailfish Flats.
My brother Todd took a family fishing expedition on Saturday, June 28, 2020. 119 miles! His journey may not have revealed many fish out in the deep ocean, but there was tremendous visible life in the Indian River Lagoon and nearshore ocean. Good to see!
“Beautiful flat day. 119 miles and only a barracuda, but it was fun.
Saw hundreds of Pelicans diving on the silver minnows near the power plant. That is probably to most Pelicans I have ever seen in one place locally, including bird island.
Also in all my life I have never seen the fin of a shark at the sandbar. After looking at my photos, I am pretty sure is was a little Scalloped Hammerhead. I cropped a comparison from the online guide and a link to the entire guide. I couldn’t see the head but the fins seem to match. The few people who saw it thought it was a Bull Shark but I didn’t think so. A Bull Shark fin isn’t as sharp.”
Below are photos of the hundreds of happy brown pelicans and also photos of the juvenile scalloped hammerhead shark. Don’t be scared! It’s just a young shark. The estuaries are their home. These and all sharks are protected species and many like the scalloped hammerhead, globally endangered due to overfishing. Mostly for shark fin soup! Awful.
Well, there’s nothing like a day on the water! Fish or no fish. 119 miles is never for nothing around here!
This morning, for purposes of documentation, I am posting the path my husband, Ed Lippisch, flew over Lake Okeechobee yesterday (6-10-20) and all aerials taken. Thank you to my brother Todd Thurlow, who shares technical information on his website, for re-creating Ed’s path via Flight Aware, and for also sharing the latest satellite high resolution images of Sentinel 2 retrieved 6-9-20. All of Ed’s phots displayed in gallery format below were taken from 2000 to 1500 feet on return flight along southern portion of Lake Okeechobee ending at Port Mayaca, east central, Martin County. His flight to the west coast was at 5000 feet and Ed said he saw no algae visible from that perspective.
Chlorophyll, we learn about it in grade school and know it resides in plants, but really, if you’re like me, you may not think too much about it. I certainly wasn’t pondering until my brother Todd Thurlow sent me some of his exciting new eyeonlakeo publications.
These newer publications include: 1. Movie Sea Surface Temperatures and 2. Movie Chlorophyll. Even for the non-scientist type, they really are fascinating. The one that caught my eye is “movie 2.” revealing color-coded levels of chlorophyll swirling around Florida’s waters from June 2019, to May 2020. Like rainbow liquid fire, formations twirl and dance around our peninsular home. And what a home it is!
Todd points out, that If you watch closely, there is an eddy that begins off of Ft Meyers with an offshore “puff of red.” (10/22/2019 at 0:11 on the video). This eddy swirls all the way through November!
Then there’s “movie 2. sea surface temperature” with the weird gyrating underwater loop.
Bizarre! What was that?
“The loop seemed to be drifting southeast like a big underwater hurricane heading toward the west coast of Florida. (SEE IMAGES BELOW YOU-TUBE VIDEOS) After 9/5, it is blocked by clouds so the images don’t show it all. Day’s later an eddy forms off of Ft. Meyers. I actually have no idea if there was red tide at this time. Was there? I’ll have to look later but this is interesting. Maybe these will explain something. Are these underwater hurricanes, so to speak, picking up the deep nutrients and pushing them to shore? Pulling nutrients offshore and returning them later?
Another interesting point, which ties into my sea surface temperature movie – two days before, on 9/3/2019, the SST movie shows a “belch” of warmer and cooler water traveling north from the Yucatan and Cuba right before the chlorophyll loop current shows up.
Once again, maybe the scientist can explain….”
The untold secrets, temperature and chlorophyll. Take a look a both videos below! What do you think is going on?
*A series of images from the movie showing the loop current and the eddy that Todd was describing:
Florida Chlorophyll a and Martin County Chlorophyll a – MODIS (Terra)The “Florida Chlorophyll a” and “Martin County Chlorophyll a” products pull localized imagery from NASA’s Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS) gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov. Eyeonlokeo.com queries two layers from the MODIS sensor on the Terra Satellite, cropping the imagery in separate products for Florida and Martin County. The queries pull the CorrectedReflectance_Bands721 (to show land and clouds), layered with the Chlorophyll_A bands (to show concentrations of chlorophyll in the ocean). Note that a concentration of chlorophyll does not indicate a Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB). These layers are provided to allow users to easily monitor the relationship, if any, between the concentration of chlorophyll off the Florida coasts and discharges from Lake Okeechobee through the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. The “Martin County Chlorophyll a” product goes a step further by querying the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) online DBHydro database (www.sfwmd.gov/science-data/dbhydro). A script pulls the discharge data for the S-80 structure at the St. Lucie canal. S-80 is the spillway located adjacent to the St. Lucie Locks on the C-44 Canal. It is only one of several spillways that empty into the St. Lucie River but it is the terminus of the C-44 canal that carries discharge water from S-308, located at Port Mayaca, together with C-44 basin runoff to S-80 at the St. Lucie Locks. The daily discharge data is added to the bottom of each image. When discharge rates are high at S-80, a large plume of chlorophyll can usually be seen off of the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County. The plume often moves south close to shore but further from shore the Gulf Stream carries the plume north.Additional layer information from gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov: “The MODIS Chlorophyll a layer provides the near-surface concentration of chlorophyll a in milligrams of chlorophyll pigment per cubic meter (mg/m3) in the ocean. Chlorophyll is a light harvesting pigment found in most photosynthetic organisms. In the ocean, phytoplankton all contain the chlorophyll pigment, which has a greenish color. Derived from the Greek words phyto (plant) and plankton (made to wander or drift), phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments, both salty and fresh. Some phytoplankton are bacteria, some are protists, and most are single-celled plants. The concentration of chlorophyll a is used as an index of phytoplankton biomass. Phytoplankton fix carbon through photosynthesis, taking in dissolved carbon dioxide in the sea water and producing oxygen, enabling phytoplankton to grow. Changes in the amount of phytoplankton indicate the change in productivity of the ocean and as marine phytoplankton capture almost an equal amount of carbon as does photosynthesis by land vegetation, it provides an ocean link to global climate change modeling. The MODIS Chlorophyll a product is therefore a useful product for assessing the health of the ocean. The presence of phytoplankton indicates sufficient nutrient conditions for phytoplankton to flourish, but harmful algal blooms (HABs) can result when high concentrations of phytoplankton produced toxins build up. Known as red tides, blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, harmful algal blooms have severe impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems and the economy. Chlorophyll features can also be used to trace oceanographic currents, atmospheric jets/streams and upwelling/downwelling/river plumes. Chlorophyll concentration is also useful for studying the earth’s climate system as it is plays an integral role in the Global Carbon Cycle. More phytoplankton in the ocean may result in a higher capture rate of carbon dioxide into the ocean and help cool the planet.”
Before Hurricane Dorian came this way, my brother, Todd, was helping me answer a question. ~One I think will be interesting to you as well…
“Where were the rapids of Lake Worth Creek?” Yes, rapids!
To answer the question, we must first recognize that Lake Worth Creek has been altered as we can see comparing the images above and below.
This change happened slowly over time, but most notably in 1894 with the completion of the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Maimi. The Google Map below shows the Intracoastal today. The 1855 survey above shows Lake Worth Creek pre-development. In both images, it’s the area between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth- the historic area of Lake Worth Creek.
To learn where these rapids were located let’s read an excerpt from Palm Beach County’s MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR FRENCHMAN’S FOREST NATURAL AREA, FCT PROJECT # 96-011-P7A, June 1998.
The Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area (located right under Frechman’s Passage, JTL) is part of a broad coastal swale that was separated from the Atlantic Ocean by coastal sand ridges and from the Loxahatchee Slough by a broad pine flatwood ridge. It was part of the headwaters of the former Lake Worth Creek, a meandering blackwater creek that flowed northward to join the Loxahatchee River near its mouth at the Jupiter Inlet. The earliest accounts of the site date from the 1840s, and were from U.S. Army Topological Engineer reports made during the Second Seminole Indian War (Corbett 1993). Eighty men from Fort Jupiter moved up Lake Worth Creek in seventeen canoes. Approximately two miles north of the natural area, they reached the “rapids”, a series of muck terraces that disappeared during periods of high water, but helped hold water at a higher level in the upstream sawgrass marshes. Another series of muck terraces may have been present 0.25 miles north of the natural area. After getting past these barriers, the troops entered a large sawgrass marsh, where they pulled the canoes for a mile to a haulover path over the sand ridge separating the marsh from Lake Worth. The southeastern portion of the natural area was part of the sawgrass marsh, and the soldiers may have crossed through the site. Once they reached Lake Worth, the soldiers raided Seminole Indian villages along its shores, capturing guns and canoes. The soldiers had followed an old Indian route for traveling between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth. When the last Seminole Indian war ended in 1859, pioneers began to use this route for coastal travel. Charles Pierce (1970) described his family’s travel to Lake Worth by small boat via this route in 1873. He noted his father’s difficulty in finding the right channel through the sawgrass to the haulover. Pierce and his family were among the earliest permanent settlers on the shores of Lake Worth. Pierce also provided the first direct reference to the natural area, noting that the bird rookery on Pelican Island (present-day Munyon)…
Another source we can use comes from the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company 1881 Prospectus where it documents the advantage of making the cut through Lake Worth Creek. Nine lines from the bottom it mentions the rapids: “There is a depth of five feet of water in the channel from its mouth to the rapids…”