This summer Florida has experienced unusually high numbers of manatee, dolphin, and pelican deaths. In Banana River, over 280 manatees have died in the last year- that’s seven times higher than average. Meanwhile, the St. Lucie is experiencing such substantial Microcystis aeruginosa algae blooms, that much of the St. Lucie Canal and Inlet have to be avoided by humans and pets. Contact with the algae can lead to nausea, vomiting, and rashes. Much of the algae outbreak is attributed to U.S. Army Corps’ nutrient saturated fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee.
Mark Perry, Executive Director of Florida Oceanographic Society noted, “We are getting over 33,000 pounds of nitrogen a day. We are getting over 9,000 pounds of phosphorous a day and the nitrogen in our system, like fertilizer, creates the algae blooms, so we are now starting to see those green algae blooms.” WPTV, a local news source in Martin County, found that so much dirty fresh water was being released from Lake O, that they had to travel nearly nine miles offshore to find clean saltwater. As toxic algae blooms continue, experts are predicting increases in dead zones and fish kills.
The debacle has citizens in the Treasure Coast up in arms. Last weekend, a crowd of more than 3,000 concerned citizens gathered to voice their support for the St. Lucie River and Estuary. This Sunday, they’ll be back and are expecting many thousands to support their efforts. Join the Treasure Coast Chapter at the Tiger Shores Beach Acces (1337 NE Ocean Blvd , Stuart, FL) at 10am on August 11th, to participate in the rally. Click here for more event details!