From Earth Island’s Eleanor K. Sommer, 10/10/2013;
Marine Animals Continue to Die of Mysterious Cause in Indian River Lagoon
Scientists perplexed over record dolphin, manatee, and pelican deaths in “distressed” estuary
The mysterious die-offs of marine life in parts of the 156-mile Indian River Lagoon have perplexed scientists, alarmed environmentalists, and angered local citizens. Over the past year, record numbers of dolphins, manatees and pelicans have been found dead in the estuary that runs along Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
The lagoon is a unique subtropical ecosystem that is home to 4,300 species of wildlife, including more than 40 threatened or endangered species. The interconnected lacelike system of rivers, wetlands, and coastal marshes stretches south along the Atlantic from Volusia County to Martin County, passing Cape Canaveral midway.
From TCPalm, 05/20/2013:
Gov. Rick Scott nixed millions of dollars Monday to clean up the Indian River Lagoon and revamp an Indian River State College campus — the two biggest Treasure Coast projects that fell to his veto pen.
The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University was counting on $2 million in state funds to study the dead pelicans, manatees, and dolphins piling up at Indian River Lagoon, described as a ‘killing zone.’
The Republican governor also said no to Treasure Coast dollars for Alzheimer’s care, mental health services and a St. Lucie County literacy program for underprivileged 2- and 3-year-olds.
From TCPalm’s Tyler Treadway, 09/09/2014:
Last year’s deluge of mysterious deaths of manatees, dolphins and pelicans in the Indian River Lagoon has subsided to barely a trickle.
That in itself is another mystery: Conditions in the lagoon haven’t changed. Not to tempt fate by asking, but why aren’t the animals still dying?
“It’s not like a switch was flipped back on and suddenly the lagoon environment became favorable for dolphins, manatees and pelicans again,” said Megan Stolen, research biologist at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in Orlando.
Researchers believe a change in environmental conditions in the lagoon, probably related to the loss of 47,000 acres of sea grass because of massive algae blooms, is the root cause of all the mysterious deaths. Because the different species have died in different ways, there are still lots of dots to connect. Figuring out why the deaths stopped could be a key to figuring out why they started.