Many of you have asked to be kept informed about the occurrence of algae blooms in the Indian River Lagoon and the continuing impacts from the lagoon’s loss of over 47,000 acres of seagrass in 2011-2012 when compared to 2009 levels.
The brown tide pelagophyte species (Aureoumbra lagunensis) has made an early return to the northern IRL. This is the same microalgae species that made its first recorded Florida bloom in the Mosquito Lagoon last summer and moved west into the northern IRL but did not go further south than Titusville. The current 2013 bloom was first detected in the northern tip of the IRL on April 8 with densities of ~ 47,250,000 cells/L. By April 22, densities there had increased to over 650,000,000 cells/L. Within two weeks (May
, brown tide densities in northern IRL were over 900,000,000 cells/L at Big Flounder Creek, and 360,000,000 cell/L near Titusville. Samples collected on May 8 in southern Mosquito Lagoon also revealed the presence of brown tide (at 151,360,000 cells/L). Water clarity has taken a hit as a result of these blooms: Secchi depths measured 0.3 m (at Titusville), 0.25 m (at Big Flounder Creek), and 0.7 m (at southern Mosquito L.) on May 8. The bloom currently (May 16th) has spread south of Titusville and dissipates north of the NASA Causeway (SR405).
Other smaller, short-lived diatom blooms and microalgae blooms are also occurring throughout the central and northern portions of the estuary. The frequency of the Brevard County manatee, dolphin and pelican mortalities appears to be declining with no new deaths reported recently. From January 1 through May 10, 2013, 182 manatees died in Brevard – 46 from undetermined causes. The large silver mullet fish kill in the southern IRL and St. Lucie River-Estuary at the beginning of May is still under investigation by FWC.
For more information on the 2011 & 2012 blooms and seagrass die-off, please visit www.itsyourlagoon.com
The Spring edition of the IRL Update Newsletter will be coming out shortly that also addresses the blooms and their on-going impacts to the estuary. If you’d like a copy mailed to you please send me your name and postal mailing address.
In order to keep the public informed about current lagoon issues, the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Indian River Lagoon Program have updated the lagoon’s web pages – highlighting the 2011 superbloom, explaining how many lagoon stakeholder agencies, NGOs and universities are working together to better understand the shift in the IRL’s health and to identify potential solutions. This also includes information on the SJRWMD’s /NEP Indian River Lagoon Protection Initiative, and ways residents can help to make positive changes in the lagoon.
Please visit www.itsyourlagoon.com
and inform your friends and peers about this updated information if they have questions about the lagoon, need info where to report sick, dead or injured wildlife, or want to know what’s being done.
Troy Rice, Director
Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program
St. Johns River Water Management District
525 Community College Pkwy, SE
Palm Bay, Florida 32909