Tag Archives: water

Landsat 7 satellite reveals 60 square mile algae bloom in Lake O, SLR/IRL

https://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/landsat-7/

ALGAE BLOOM UPDATE: Yesterday’s Landsat 7 satellite image reveals an algae bloom between Pahokee and Port Mayaca in Lake Okeechobee  measuring approximately 60 square miles. Thank you to my brother, Todd Thurlow, for researching and sharing. Visit his site here:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/index.html#LE07_L1TP_015041_20170814_20170814_01_RT%2520-%2520Crop.jpg)

What Happened to all the IRL Horseshoe Crabs? SLR/IRL

Young horseshoe crabs, public photo, 2017

When I was a kid, I often walked to the Indian River Lagoon and just stood there in amazement watching the hundreds, if not thousands, of baby horseshoe crabs winding their way through the sands. They left circular trails, crossing over and over again…

Where were they going? What were they doing? Why were there so many?

Photo by Anthony J. Martin

Every once in a while, I would pick one up and place it carefully in the palm of my hand. Its sharp tail and prickly feet pushed against me. I watched in wonder at its strength as it bent in half. Once returned to the sand, the little crab went back to work immediately as if nothing had happened at all.

My mother had told me the horseshoe crabs were more ancient than the dinosaurs and had been here “forever.” “They are living fossils” she would say. “And they can live over 20 years and take 10 years just to mature.”

Although I picked them up with such care, today, forty years later, when I try to find them, they’re gone.

What happened to the horseshoe crabs of the Indian River Lagoon? How did a creature so ancient, resilient, and prevalent almost “disappear?”

Although there is quite a bit of literature on the Central Indian River Lagoon, I could not find much on the Southern Lagoon. Some of the best documentation came from Gretchen S. Ehlinger and Richard A. Tankersley. On line, they are cited multiple times for their paper “Reproductive Ecology of the American Horseshoe Crab, Limulus Polyphemus, in the Indian River Lagoon: An Overview.”  I was also able to read “Evaluation of the Horseshoe Crab Fishery in the Indian River Lagoon Using Catch Data From Two Power Plants,” and a September 2014 “FPL Cape Canaveral Energy Center Horseshoe Crab Deterrent Fence Specifications” publication.

All of these lead to the following observations: decline of the species has been noted  for around three decades. There  have been UME’s or “Unexplained Mortality Events” where up to a 100,000 have died in the same area around the same time.

Factors that are related to their overall decline in the lagoon include intense coastal development, shoreline breeding grounds destruction, and unbridled  human population growth; expansion of agriculture drainage watersheds into the IRL; deteriorating water quality; power plants sucking up as many as 100,000 a year into their intake canals; and over-fishing. The crabs are used as bait, collected for marine purposes, and more recently captured live and bled for their “blue-blood”that is invaluable to human health.

Unfortunately, for many years, the value and importance of the horseshoe crab was not recognized. For instance, Ehlinger and Tankersley note  a one year study in the early 2000s at two Indian River Lagoon power plants that recorded a total of 39,097 crabs trapped on the intake screens at Cape Canaveral, and 53,121 at the Orland Utilities Plant. The scientists also mention a previous study from 1975 that estimated 69,662 at the Canaveral Plant, and 104,000 trapped annually at the Orlando Utilitility’s Indian River plant. “This alone could easily account for a decline in the Indian River population.” (Ehlinger and Tankersley 2007)

The St Lucie Power Plant  located here in the southern lagoon did not agree to be part of the study and there is very little research one can now find on the subject.

In any case, the good news is that just recently the Cape Canaveral plant has installed a wall to protect the horseshoe crabs and science’s recognition of the species has people wanting them to come back.

The Florida Wildlife Commission notes:

“Horseshoe crabs are extremely important to the biomedical industry because their unique, copper-based blue blood contains a substance called “Limulus Amebocyte Lysate”, or “LAL”.This compound coagulates in the presence of small amounts of bacterial toxins and is used to test for sterility of medical equipment and virtually all injectable drugs.  Anyone who has had an injection, vaccination, or surgery has benefitted from horseshoe crabs!”

…”in March 2000, a series of management measures for horseshoe crabs went into effect in Florida. The regulations required a license to harvest and set a limit on the number of animals each licensee could harvest per day (25 to 100 animals allowed per day per person depending on the permit). In 2002, a biomedical permitting rule created a mechanism to allow for biomedical collection.”

Yikes!

Horseshoe crabs being bled. Image as shared by FWC in 2017, first published in Popular Science.

Personally, looking at these photos of the horseshoe crabs being bled is like a science fiction movie to me. Never as a kid would I have imagined my little friends with needles in their heads being milked for their blood.

….But if this is what is going to save them… I must say, if they could talk, I bet now is the strangest part of their 450 million year journey. In my mind, they will always be free and drawing circles in the sand.

Ancient horseshoe crab fossil. CREDIT CARBON NYC / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

 

Horseshoe crabs gather under a full moon to procreate. Photo, National Park Service.

Links:

Horseshoe crab eye, JTL.

Ehlinger and Tankersley: http://www.horseshoecrab.org/research/sites/default/files/DONE%20Ehlinger%20and%20Tankersley.pdf

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1999-08-22/sports/9908220099_1_crabs-mosquito-lagoon-titusville

FPL wall to protect marine life, central lagoon:
http://www.nexteraenergy.com/energynow/2015/0915/0915_marinelife.shtml

St Lucie Power Plant effects on IRL and environment: https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML0214/ML021430397.pdf

Changing Global Perspectives on Horseshoe Crab Biology and Conservation Management: https://www.kobo.com/at/en/ebook/changing-global-perspectives-on-horseshoe-crab-biology-conservation-and-management

Bleeding Horseshoe Crabs for Human Health: http://www.americanpharmaceuticalreview.com/Featured-Articles/167236-The-Incredible-Horseshoe-Crab-Modern-Medicine-s-Unlikely-Dependence-on-a-Living-Fossil/

FWS: https://www.fws.gov/northeast/pdf/horseshoe.fs.pdf

FWC:
http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/horseshoe-crabs/fishery/

http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/horseshoe-crabs/facts/

continued….

Me with horseshoe crab on my head, Spoil Island family boat outing, IRL, 1980. Photo Sandra Thurlow.

Ehlinger and Tankersley Links:

Addendum to FPL CCEC Horseshoe Crab Fence ERP Application

Ehlinger and Tankersley 2007 Fla Sci

Power Plant Study

The Amazing Dupuis Alligator March; Too Many to Count Indeed! SLR/IRL

https://clydebutcher.com

I love alligators. Their population comeback is one of the great success stories of Florida conservation. They are an ancient and modern-day inspiration. https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/alligator.pdf

The video I am sharing today was filmed by the late Dr. Dale Hipson. Born and raised in Stuart, Dr Hipson was an avid wildlife lover, and very involved at the Stuart Heritage Museum. http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com

Through the help of my mother, Dale’s family, and the community, I share one of Dr Hipson’s most famous videos from 2006 filming what seems to be hundreds of alligators marching across Powerline Road in the Dupuis Wildlife Area. I recall asking Dr Hipson why they were all crossing the road. “They are seeking more water,” he said,  “levels change abruptly all the time.”

In the video, Dr Hipson and Shirley Corley’s “amazements” can be heard in the background. The video is quite delightful, even funny at times,  and deserves to be reintroduced to the public. I know you will enjoy it.

Go Gators!

(video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRbOjKbbfk0)

Dupuis, FWC: http://www.myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/cooperative/dupuis

*Thank you to Treasure Coast Multi-Media for transferring the original VHS to digital formant!http://tcmultimedia.net

Signs of a Toxic Algae Bloom at Central Marine? SLR/IRL

2017/2016

“Here is the basin right now. It may not be the blue-green algae but I am willing to bet it has some of the same properties that created the algae bloom.” —Mary Radabaugh, Central Marine

Central Marine…the epicenter for the St Lucie River’s “Algae Crisis of 2016.” More photographed than a movie star, the marina became home-base for reporters, politicians, as well as state and federal agencies.  All witnessed something beyond human imagination. It is something we will never forget…

Mary and Dutch Radabaugh, who manage Central Marine, bravely and eloquently handled the situation, and kept working….

Mary became the spokesperson for Martin County on local, state, national, and international media. Her confident and calm southern manner gave stability when it was difficult to breathe.

Mary Radabaugh

This year, in 2017, Mary has remained low-key. Although the ACOE is not discharging Lake Okeechobee waters in to the St Lucie River, the marina definitely has been showing signs of a possible coming bloom…

The “circus” too fresh in Mary’s memory, she has not spoken, until now.

The photos below are Mary’s; they are dated. As one can see, although there is no blue-green algae visible, there are the signs. The signs we learned to recognize in 2016. The bubbles, the foam, the nutrient swirls of seeming organization…

So, with no dumping where are the nutrient bubbles coming from? These nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen)  are known side effects from years of careless agriculture and development—- that feed the “algae…”

Is it there from last year, or before? Is is rising from the putrid muck of the river where the blooms sunk and died only to rise again?

Most important. Is it now endemic to the system? Will it affect our health?

~Just to look and see if we could follow the bubble/foam for Mary, Ed and I flew on Sunday, July 30th, from the St Lucie Locks to the St Lucie Inlet. It was early morning, and the light was not great, but one could see the intermittent bubble swirls like a gigantic serpent to the Inlet. In the video they are most visible rounding the peninsula of Sewall’s Point.

Sewall’s Point is the peninsula and Sailfish Point is the ball like formation at the south end of Hutchinson Island (R) Atlantic on far R. (Google Maps 2013, another Lake O discharge year…)

Mary just happened to be at the Sandbar and St Lucie Inlet on Sunday, just off Sewall’s Point. She texted a photo and wrote:

“I really have a hard time watching people swim in the water when it is that gross brown color. I truly believe if they were dumping the lake right now we would be way worse than last year. This that we are seeing I believe is remnants of algae settled in our river bottom being churned up in combination with natural runoffs. Keep up the documentation so when they do decide they need to open them we can show it will be a catastrophe to human health.”

Mary’s photos of dark river water flowing out towards the St Lucie Inlet, July 30th, 2017:

Mary’s photos since June 19th of the water changes at Central Marina, St Lucie River, Rio, Fl http://www.centralmarinestuart.com

June 19, Central Marine, Mary Radabaugh–list signs of water changes
Central Marine, June 19, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, June 29, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, June 30, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, June 30, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 17, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 17, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 17, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 25, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 27, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh

 

Central Marine, JTL

Ed & Jacqui’s Flight from the St Lucie Locks and Dam to the St Lucie Inlet, July 30, 2017. “Chasing nutrient bubble/foam swirls….precursors to blooms?”

Video 1 https://youtu.be/2BpN5U_3XNM
(https://youtu.be/2BpN5U_3XNM)

Video 2 https://youtu.be/4uwAZvZpT6c
(https://youtu.be/4uwAZvZpT6c)

 

Photos from 2016, Central Marine Algae Crisis

 

2016 Central Marine

The Line Between Past and Present: Corbett Wildlife Area, SLR/IRL

Ed looks outside the plane: a  “line” divides agricultural fields and the wetlands of J.W. Corbett Wildlife Area. 7-8-17.

An overview…
Sometimes it seems there is not a piece of land that doesn’t have the mark of modern-humans on it…but then, we have been leaving our mark for thousands, and thousands of years…

On a recent trip with renowned South Florida photographer Edward Carr, my husband Ed and I flew over the contiguous Dupuis and J.W. Corbett Wildlife Areas ~ “bordering” Martin and Palm Beach counties.

It was quite a view, and I felt embarrassed that I did not know more about these wonderful remaining lands located so close to home. So interesting to see them in a more natural state. The circles of trees, dome-like, standing in shallow water. Shades of green, brown, and blue changing and reflecting with every turn. An animal running into the bush. What was it?! A deer? A panther?

I have to admit, chasing toxic algae sometimes overtake me!.. I must remind myself  “to stop and smell the pond apples!”

Pond apple blossom. Photo by Lisa Jefferson. There was a 32,000 acre pond apple forest on the Southern rim of Lake O prior to development.
Mr Carr was photographing for a documentary on “Big Mound City” the most remarkable of places our human ancestors called home. These native people of Lake Okeechobee’s Belle Glade Culture, built mounds to get above the swamp rather than trying to drain it….as sea level rises, we many have to consider this once again just like the FEMA project in Sewall’s Point!

I find this entirely fascinating…history repeating itself…

I tried to get Ed later in that week to go with me into Corbett for a hike and to explore, but he said it’s too hot right now, he rather fly. It would be “torture in there.” Well, when the weather cools down, I am taking him. What a wonderful piece of natural history to have right in your own back yard.

LINKS:

FWC JW CORBETT: http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/lead/jw-corbett

BIG MOUND CITY: http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/lead/jw-corbett/history/

DUPUIS, SFWMD: https://www.sfwmd.gov/recreation-site/dupuis-management-area

The L-8 Canal runs through Corbett: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/l-8.pdf

L-8 & C-51 Reservoir etc: http://my.sfwmd.gov/webapps/publicMeetings/viewFile/8656

Interestingly, Sirkorsky is located in J.W. Corbett: http://lockheedmartin.com/us/what-we-do/aerospace-defense/sikorsky.html

Flight path

Google Earth Dupuis and JW Corbett just east of Lake O and south of FPL reservoir

A view from above

Agriculture fields meet JW Corbett

Edward Carr

Our Common Enemy, Toxic Algae, SLR/IRL

Rocks and algae, Lake O 7-26-17

Definition: caught between a rock and a hard place

“to be in a very difficult situation and to have to make a hard decision”

“State Says Blue-Green Algae in Lake Okeechobee is Not Toxic,”
WPTV, link 7-26-17: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-okeechobee-county/state-says-blue-green-algae-in-lake-okeechobee-is-not-toxic

The fact that Lake Okeechobee, the St Lucie River, and other water bodies of our state are in such poor condition puts the state of Florida “between a rock and a hard place.” After all, for centuries just saying the word “Florida” conjured up visions paradise…
Early rendition of the Everglades area including the rivers of the SLR/IRL. (Thurlow Collection.)
Cyanobacteria, that often becomes “toxic algae,” is bad for business. In fact, perhaps nothing is worse for business. It is also bad for people’s health. Hmm? How does the state report toxic algae and fulfill their responsibility for safety without scaring people away? And without hurting business?

The answer is of course that “you really can’t…” But you can be honest and take leadership. You can turn a bad situation into a good one, because after all, a very powerful force of human nature is a common enemy.

Cyanobacteria, toxic algae, is our common enemy.  For ALL of us.

The state has known that Lake Okeechobee has been eutrophic (prone to algae blooms) since at least the 1960s–the time of my birth. Early documentation from the state Geological Societies and Water Management Districts clearly documented the over nutrification of the lake, due to agriculture and development’s run-off exacerbated by channelization of rivers, lakes, the draining of lands, later the spreading of bio-solids (treated human waste) on fields, and a population explosion.

It is time to start diligently approaching the reporting of algae blooms and tracking their sources. There is a lot of area to cover; we can’t just test from the side of the road. Algae is living and changing and morphing every second. It is worth the investment to monitor it for what it is, an enemy.  24 hours a day…

Area of Lake O algae bloom, 7-21-17.

Dept. of Environmental Protection, algae sites reported and tested: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=60d6ebf175f44ac1b7e51c00185883b4&extent=-88.8794,23.6596,-75.3882,32.9764

DEP’s warning to the public regarding algae blooms in water bodies: http://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2017/07/072117-dep-and-doh-algal-blooms.html

Visit Florida’s words on algae blooms, toxic algae and cyanobacteria: http://www.visitflorida.org/resources/crisis-preparation/blue-green-algae-information/

 

Lake O shoreline, 7-26-17
VIDEO:

Two Planes; One Algae Bloom? SLR/IRL

Ed, my husband, and Todd my brother, algae hunters! The Cub.
The Baron, Todd and Ed. All of Todd’s photos are linked at the bottom of this post.

On Saturday, my husband, Ed, took my brother, Todd, up in both the Cub and the Baron to look for a the large algae bloom Ed and I had seen last Wednesday in Lake Okeechobee. I went along for the Baron ride, but the Cub only holds two.

Maybe you, like me, after listening to the news the past few days, realized there were other blooms reported, even a “small one” in Pahokee on May 20th by famed biologist Barry Rosen, of USGA. I wondered if Todd and Ed would see more blooms, other blooms…

Saturday, July 22, 2017, was much more overcast than the previous Wednesday, so the lake photos Todd took are not as bright in color, but the “southwest of Port Mayaca” bloom is definitely still there. Todd did not report any others during the trip and the GPS track shows that he and Ed went quite far north and west. (Channel 12 reported on two blooms on Lake O’s western shore…)

Before the flight, Todd also shared the most recent Landsat 8 satellite image that shows where the large “southwest of Port Mayaca” bloom is located although here too, there are a lot of clouds blocking the image…

Approaching Lake O with widespread cloud cover.

After Wednesday’ s post, many were asking me  if there were visible blooms in the St Lucie River or C-44 Canal.

The answer: “No.” From 1000 feet up, there are none visible. But there are the “bubble like nutrient swirls” that seem to proceed the blooms in some areas.  (You’ll notice these in Todd’s photos and all 350+ photos are linked at end of post.)

I did notice that on Facebook a small bloom was reported at Rivers’ Landing in Palm City, and another one on rocks in the North Fork. The Caloosahatchee has indeed reported a pretty significant bloom…blooms are in the estuaries but the motherload is Lake O.

Have you seen any blooms? If so, here is the link to report algae blooms to the Department of Environmental Protection, “DEP.”

It is important to report what you see!

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/central/Home/Watershed/ReportProblem.htm

I happened to notice when I visited the DEP website that DEP states:  “Blooms are naturally occurring.”

…Yes this is true; so is cancer.

However, nutrient pollution that feeds these algae blooms and is killing our estuaries, and possibly us, is entirely man-made. We know what causes it.

We must be more diligent and creative in stopping the nutrient run of from agriculture and development. “Taking measures”as noted in the DEP quote as the game plan just isn’t enough. After all, this is a war to save our Florida.

Florida’s five water managements districts map DEP.

__________________________________________________________

QUOTE on DEP web page regarding algae blooms: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/bgalgae/

“There are no short term solutions to rectifying the situation; this is a naturally occurring phenomenon that the State monitors closely. However, the state is taking measures that in the long-term will reduce nutrient loading and improve water quality.” DEP, 2017 website
 

LINKS:

Weather Channel story with photo of small bloom found in Lake O at Pahokee and reported on May 20, 2017 by USGA biologist, Barry Rosen: https://weather.com/science/environment/news/florida-algae-bloom-lake-okeechobee

USGA: Tracking the Bad Guys 2017: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/tracking-bad-guys-toxic-algal-blooms

A great book on the subject of nutrient pollution: Clean Coastal Waters, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/9812/clean-coastal-waters-understanding-and-reducing-the-effects-of-nutrient

LANDSAT 8

Landsat 8 satellite image, 7-21-17

Photos by Todd Thurlow SLR, C-44, Lake O

GPS of trip. 1. Blue Cub. 2. Red Baron.
South Fork that connects to C-44 and then Lake O  at Port Mayaca,  near Palm City; following photos just going west towards Lake Okeechobee. Notice the bubble trails.
Rowers near Palm City
American Yachts and 195 overpass is near where C-44 connects to South Fork of St Lucie River
S-80 where area basin water is allowed into South Fork of St Lucie as well as water from Lake O if S-308 is open at Port Mayaca
Part of C-44 Reservoir project, the biggest in the state, to hold area basin water, clean and return to C-44.
Water and sediment leaving ag canals entering C-44 canal
Indiantown area and  C-44.
FPL cooling pond. This area was once a cypress tree forest
Port Mayaca’s S-308 at Lake Okeechobee
C-44 is “running backwards” into Lake O right now, dark color is visible
Algae is present south west of Port Mayaca but not as bright on this cloudy day…
S-308
Lake O southwest of Port Mayaca
S-308 looking east from LakeO
the northwestern shoreline
S-308 with C-44 area basin waters going into lake. Usually these waters flow into C-44 and the SLR
Northwestern shoreline
Water in northwest

 

Photo in 2nd plane, the Baron. I went along for this one as you can get a more overall view…
Again algae present in Lake O southwest waters but not as intense as seen in blog photos I published four days prior as this day was cloudy and there was little sunlight.
My brother noted the algae around the Okeechobee Waterway canal cut into the lake. Interesting!
The water flowing backwards from C-44 area basin is certainly one of the things fouling Lake Okeechobee.
2. This 1995-2005 map shows phosphorus loads to lake and SRL for that time. (SFWMD)

See all of Todd’s photos here: http://www.thethurlows.com/LakeO_07-22-2017/