Indian River Lagoon
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|Indian River Lagoon|
Aerial view of Indian River Lagoon
Map of lagoon and surrounding area
|Length||251 km (156 mi)|
|Source elevation||Sea level|
|Basin area||2,187.5 sq mi (5,666 km2)|
Bodies of water
The full length of the Indian River Lagoon is 156 miles (251 km), extending from Ponce de León Inlet in Volusia County, Florida, to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County, Florida, and includes Cape Canaveral. Lake Okeechobee is connected to the lagoon by the Okeechobee Waterway and the St. Lucie River meeting in Sewall's Point.
From north to south, the Indian River Lagoon system includes the following:
- Mosquito Lagoon, from Ponce de Leon Inlet to the north end of Merritt Island, connected to Indian River by Haulover Canal.
- Indian River, the main body of water, from the north border between Volusia and Brevard Counties along the western shore of Merritt Island, southward to St. Lucie Inlet.
- Banana River, an offshoot of the Indian River, northward making up the eastern shore of Merritt Island.
- Eau Gallie River
- Crane Creek (Melbourne, Florida), Crane Creek is a 3.3 mile long tributary of the Indian River in Melbourne, Florida.
- Turkey Creek Sanctuary,turkey creek sanctuary is a county wildlife reserve and nature trail system located along they shores of Turkey Creek. A tributary of the Indian River, in Palm Bay Fla.
- Turkey Creek (Indian River),A tributary of the Indian River in Palm Bay Fla.
- St. Sebastian River
- Hobe Sound, the portion of the lagoon from St. Lucie Inlet to Jupiter Inlet.
The Indian River Lagoon is North America’s most diverse estuary, with more than 2100 species of plants and 2200 animals; it includes 35 species listed as threatened or endangered — more than any other estuary in North America. The lagoon has about 2,500 types of animals in it.[clarification needed] The Lagoon varies in width from .5 to 5 miles (0.80 to 8.05 km) and averages 4 feet (1.2 m) in depth. It serves as a spawning and nursery ground for many different species of oceanic and lagoon fish and shellfish. The lagoon also has one of the most diverse bird populations anywhere in America. Nearly 1/3 of the nation’s manatee population lives here or migrates through the Lagoon seasonally. In addition, its ocean beaches provide one of the densest sea turtle nesting areas found in the Western Hemisphere. Between 200 and 800 Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) also live in the Indian River Lagoon.
Impact of human activity
From 1913 to 2013, activity by humans has increased the watershed for the lagoon from 572,000 acres (231,000 ha) to 1,400,000 acres (570,000 ha) increasing runoff of freshwater and nutrients from farms. Both have been detrimental to lagoon health. The wetlands are needed to cleanse the lagoon. About 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) of land were lost to mosquito control and have been restored, but by 2013, recovery was incomplete.
Mangroves are important to marine life. Between the 1940s and 2013, 85% of them had been removed for housing development. From 1989 to 2013, the population along the lagoon increased 50% to 1.6 million people.
Seagrass is a critical component to the overall health of the lagoon. By 1990, it had surpassed levels reached in 1943. In 1990, the Florida Legislature passed the Indian River Lagoon Act, requiring most sewer plants to stop discharging into the lagoon by 1996. Some sports fish rebounded in population in the 1990s when gill nets were banned and pollution in the lagoon was reduced. In 1995 the seagrass covered over 100,000 acres (40,000 ha).
In 2007, concerns were raised about the future of the lagoon system, especially in the southern half where frequent freshwater discharges seriously threatened water quality, decreasing the salinity needed by many fish species, and have contributed to large algae blooms promoted by water saturated with plant fertilizers. In the mid 1990s, the lagoon has been the subject of research on light penetration for photosynthesis in submerged aquatic vegetation.
In 2010, 3,300,000 pounds (1,500,000 kg) of nitrogen and 475,000 pounds (215,000 kg) of phosphorus entered the lagoon.
In 2011, a "superbloom" of phytoplankton resulted in the loss of 32,000 acres (13,000 ha) of lagoon seagrass. In 2012, a brown tide bloom fouled the northern lagoon. The county has approval for funds to investigate these unusual blooms to see if they can be prevented.
Catches of blue crabs dropped unevenly from 4,265,063 pounds (1,934,600 kg) in 1987 to 389,795 pounds (176,808 kg) in 2012, but with high catches in 1998, 1991, alternating with low catch years. These crabs require 2% salt content in the water to survive. A drought increases the salt content and heavy rainfall decreases it. Both of these conditions have recurred over the past decades and are believed to have had an adverse effect on the crab population.
In 2013, algae blooms and loss of sea grass destroyed all gains. In 2013, four major problems with lagoon water quality were identified. 1) Excess nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff from the application of fertilizer; 2) an estimated 8 to 11% septic tank failures of tens of thousands of septic tanks in the county. 3) Muck from construction, farming, erosion and dead plants find their way to the bottom of the lagoon, preventing growth and consuming vital oxygen essential to marine flora and fauna; 4) Invasive species, including the Asian green mussel, South American charru mussel, and the Australian spotted jellyfish, eat clams and fish larvae.
The diversity of the lagoon draws millions of boaters and fishermen annually, which brings tens of millions of dollars to Florida. In 2007, visitors spent an estimated 3.2 million person-days in recreation on the lagoon.
In 2008, Hazen and Sawyer,P.C. submitted a report titled “Indian River Lagoon Economic Assessment and Analysis Update” to Troy Rice, Director of the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, St. Johns River Water Management District. The report described the estimated 2007 recreational uses and economic value of the Indian River Lagoon to residents and visitors of the five counties that comprise the Lagoon system. The sum of recreational expenditures and recreational use value was $2.1 billion (See Section 7).
- Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan
- Indian River Lagoon.com Indian River Lagoon
- *BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus) Indian River Lagoon Estuarine System Stock
Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce - Tursiops truncatus - Habitat and Distribution
Field Study - Indian River Lagoon Dolphins - Dolphin 56 Sighting Ssummary
- Soper, Shawn J. (May 6, 2011). "Dolphin 56 Back Dazzling Boaters In Ocean City". The Dispatch (Ocean City, Maryland). Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- Waymer, Jim (October 13, 2013). "Leaders to discuss lagoon cures during special meeting.Talking solutions". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida: Gannett). pp. 6A. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
- Hanisak, M. Dennis (1997). "Continuous Monitoring of Underwater Light in Indian River Lagoon: Comparison of Cosine and Spherical Sensors.". In: EJ Maney, Jr and CH Ellis, Jr (Eds.) The Diving for Science…1997, Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, Seventeenth annual Scientific Diving Symposium. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
- Dawes, Clinton J.; M. Dennis Hanisak, and Judson W. Kenworthy (1995). "Seagrass biodiversity in the Indian River Lagoon". Bulletin of Marine Science 57 (1): 59–66. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
- "Editorial:Dying dolphins". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. 22 May 2010. pp. 13A.
- Waymer, Jim (April 25, 2013). "Panel approves $1.2 million in lagoon projects". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 2B.
- Waymer, Jim (September 8, 2013). "Lagoon crab catches dwindle". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1A,3A. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
- Waymer, Jim (September 29, 2013). "Do something!". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 4A.
- "Visitors spend big on the lagoon". Indian River Lagoon Update XVI (3): 1. Summer 2008.
- Stolen, Megan K.; Barlow, Jay (October 2003). "A Model Life Table for Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon System, Florida, U.S.A." (PDF). Marine Mammal Science.19(4). pp. 630–649.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Indian River Lagoon.|
- Indian River Lagoon Watershead from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
- From the Water: Healing our Lagoon, a 2015 series of Florida Today articles