(Please read the comments at the bottom of this piece. It’s incredible how many people are hopeful and willing to do what it takes to restore the Indian River Lagoon system.)
Amazing Monarch & Loggerhead
Yesterday, a monarch butterfly, landed on my knee as I sat quietly in our backyard. I watched it for minutes wondering about where it came from, the places it had been and how such a small creature could lead such an adventurous life. After a ten-fold drop in the population of the eastern monarch butterfly population over the last decade, a 2016 study predicted an 11%-57% probability that this population will go extinct over the next 20 years. The details we don’t know about nature are the most amazing things in life. Things like how does the monarch follow its complex migration cycle or how does the loggerhead turtle find its way back to its birthplace beach to laid eggs after being in the ocean for twenty years?
Phenology of the Indian River Lagoon: A Brown Bag Lunch May 3 between 12-1 PM.
In support of the Marine Resources Council I’ll be conducting my Phenology of the Indian River Lagoon PowerPoint presentation at Palm Bay’s Ted Moorhead Lagoon House, 3275 Dixie Hwy NE,
LagoonFest 2016 May 21, 2016
Also, I’ll be volunteering at the LagoonFest 2016. The LagoonFest is an all-day music charity event geared to generate awareness and funds to produce the first State of the Indian River Lagoon Report Card.It also takes place at the Ted Moorhead Lagoon House. For more information on both of these events, please go to
I’m working on a short story for The Sun magazine http://thesunmagazine.org/ the topic is Honeymoon. This piece will be published February 2017. If you’re not reading The Sun, I suggest you try it.
Books I’m reading Elizabeth Hess Stamper’s The Butterfly Book, The Handbook of Sailing, Younger Next Year, Donovan Hohn’s Moby-Duck and just started William Finnegan Barbarian Days A Surfing Life.
I’ve recently completed reading Jack London’s White Fang and Cizia Zyke’s Oro. While these books deal with entirely different topics, they are both adventurous and deal with man’s violence and the powerful allure of gold.
Is it because the world is such a fascinating and wondrous place that we find ourselves busy, busy, busy? Remember if the devil can’t make you sin; he’ll make you busy.
Here are a few of the responses we received regarding the last blog Perpetual (B.S.) Banana River Lagoon
I gather from your verbiage that this picture is for real, i had initially thought it was a doctored picture. I have never seen a picture like this in in free flowing water. We have drained man-made lakes out in Nebraska to kill poisonous bacteria which results in a fish kill off, but this was an intentional action. Your fish kill was not intentional. What happened to all the water? From reading the comments, you are very involved which is good. Thanks for sending the Perpetual BS to me. That part fits your personality!!!! (Dave and Rita Persing)
Wow, just wow … and tears. Yes, it is painful. I remember playing in canals where there were plenty of sea cows and skiing in the lagoon all summer long, dolphins by the truckload. (Anne Mayer)
Somebody had to say it! (Mike Daniel)
It’s spelled bull $#!+ (Burt Linthicum)
It a tragedy but hopefully at least it will spur some lasting action. The environment is amazingly resilient and it can (and will) come back. It is overall very troubling. Fortunately, there are a few bright spots (Sarasota Bay) where things are actually (we hope) improving. That said we have to be constantly vigilant because even here growth is rampant. Take heart and keep up all the great work you’re doing. (Rusty Chinnis)
As long as Brevard County and municipalities continue to allow construction on the IRL, the river will continue to decline. In my 50 years of living and working near the lagoon, I have seen many structures go up directly on the banks of the IRL. Lots of lip service, and many ignored studies, coupled with encouraging the thousands of formally migrating south sea cows, allowed them to remain here in the winter with forced warm water discharge from the power plants. Together I believe these are the primary reason our lagoon is dying!
The question is, can it be reversed? I pray with efforts like yours and others; strong common sense measures can reverse this decline. (Ron Rincones)
I’m sorry I think I sent you an email, but it slipped off before I could put in my “input code” – but I am very anxious to know what can be done NOW about this continual stalling of Tallahassee regarding the land purchase of Sugar Land in order to allow the water to flow into the Everglades.
During the Easter week, my home was filled with the family wanting to enjoy the river with one young girl wanting to investigate the possibility of studying Marine Science. We had planned a trip to the Environmental Learning Center in Wabasso, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Smithsonian Center for Marine Research in Ft. Pierce. Unfortunately, the kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding were not an option because of the “fish kill” –
With Earth Day celebrations coming up, I would like to know what sort of pressure is there going to be put on Rick Scott regarding this situation?
Thank You for your blog site and the information I have been able to gather from your site. (Mare Quinn)
Here’s a link to interesting article about the last of Pinellas County groves being developed and some history of the area Liz and I live in. I’m sure our nephew Wesley can attest to the adversity the FL citrus industry faces year after year. (David Williams)
As for as the Lagoon problems:
- It’s going to take a long time heal. I worked in the Tampa area until 2000. We worked for several agencies and developed a plan in about 1985 to clean up Tampa Bay. The plan took years to take affect, but it worked. Tampa Bay is healthy again; I understand scallops are even coming back. We need a plan for the Lagoon and all agencies and the public need to buy into it.
- It’s going to take a lot of money to fund the projects that need to be done:
Muck removal, constructing sewer lines to eliminate septic tanks, building storm water discharge basins with effective designs to remove sediments and pollutants from direct discharge into the Lagoon.
- Enforcement of regulations is critical. This includes banning fertilizing and spraying other chemicals on lawns in the rainy season and over watering lawns in the dry times. We have these regulations now, but they are not enforced because agencies don’t have the manpower to do it.
- The public won’t support increasing taxes to implement the projects, so we have to get funding via federal and state grants and other ways as such as: Fines for not obeying regulations, charging fees for having septic tanks, adding a surcharge to water bills for using more than a maximum amount per month, metering the use of wells for irrigation and charging a monthly fee for using ground water.
And finally, Monroe County has decided to eliminate septic tanks in the Keys. This is being done after 60 years of septic tanks discharging into the waters of Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, which is killing the reefs. If Monroe County can do something so can Brevard County. (Jim Glass)
I know this has been your life’s work to save the IRL. I would like to help in whatever way I can, writing, calling, etc. to our legislatures, local or state. Running data, tests, informing people, getting Lowe’s and Home Depot to discontinue selling fertilizer, etc. whatever you need.
A little history, you guided me several times back when you had Mangle Tangle. I love your publications and newsletters. I still live in Tennessee most of the time, but come back to my beloved Merritt Island and the IRL as often as I can. I am here now and am shocked and saddened by the state of the Lagoon. I want to help find a solution to this. My mom’s house is on Tropical Trail just north of the Pineda and today alone I took my small boat out and counted over 100 fish dead and floating belly up (catfish, redfish, trout, puffer and lots of small baitfish). I am sick to death about this. I want to help you and others find a solution. What can I do? I want to help. Thank you.
Rodney, I have been doing some research on the septic tank companies in the Brevard area. Since our home on Tropical Trail has one, I have called several companies to see what they suggest for maintenance and pumping out. Here is what I learned: they recommend pump out every 3-5 years and full service every 5-7. Is this in line with what you know about them? I just wonder if most people who have a septic tank know just how to maintain it? Is this something that can be shared with residents or even better for regulation to make it mandatory? I am just noodling around things we can do as owners of property on the IRL and other things I can actively assist in. Hope the lagoon is looking a little better and not headed for another disaster this summer. (Linda Ullian Schmid)
Small Fish Eaten by Bigger Species Protected on West Coast
Federal officials finalized rules Monday for a West Coast ban on catching forage fish, the small fish that larger species, seabirds, and marine mammals depend on for food. The ban on new commercial fisheries will protect little schooling fish that play a critical role in the marine food web but that are not actively fished or managed, the National Marine Fisheries Service said. It marks the first action under a new approach to fisheries management that considers how one species affects others in the ecosystem.
The ban does not affect existing fisheries for forage fish, such as sardines and anchovies. It covers species including Pacific sand lance, silversides and certain varieties of herring, smelt, and squid. The restrictions apply to federal waters from 3 to 200 miles off Washington, Oregon and California, and do not affect fishing authorized by tribes. Fishermen do not target forage fish in federal waters, and no West Coast fishing boats are known to be considering efforts do so.
But global demand is increasing for their use in fish meal or oil to feed livestock or farmed fish, which could put pressure on the species, said Paul Shively, who directs West Coast ocean conservation efforts for the Pew Charitable Trusts. The protections represent a real change in the way ocean resources are managed, conservation groups said. “Instead of responding to a fishery crisis, they’re proactive,” said Ben Enticknap, a senior scientist with the conservation group Oceana. “Too often, fisheries
start up and nothing is done to manage them in a sustainable way until the population crashes and by then, it’s too late.”
The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fisheries for dozens of species along the West Coast, adopted the ban last March by unanimous vote. The NOAA published final rules Monday to implement the ban, which takes effect May 4. Shively said he hopes the move clears the way for other regions and state agencies
to adopt similar protections.
Under the rules, commercial fishing for the small species cannot be developed until the Pacific Fishery Management Council weighs scientific information and considers potential effects to other fisheries, fishing communities, and the marine ecosystem.
The rules limit the amount of forage fish that could be caught incidentally while fishing for other targeted species. It also includes provisions that allow future experiments with targeting forage fish under certain conditions.
Glenn Spain, with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, said protecting forage fish that are the basis of the food chain is “an obvious no-brainer.”