I am writing to thank the individuals who recently donated to our save the dolphins of Indian River Lagoon Florida campaign. Your thoughtful support has raised sufficient funds so that I may go to Florida early next week to meet with colleagues and experts.
The problem we are challenged to solve –nitrogen pollution of the ocean- is so complex and fraught with misinformation shrapnel put up by the industry that it takes a pride of individuals to save a dolphin and to save an ecosystem of unsurpassed wildlife diversity. Fortunately there are a good number of excellent experts and advocates in the communities of Indian River Lagoon.
Leesa Souto, Ph.D. is first on my list because she recently became Executive Director of the Marine Resources Council (MRC). MRC has been combining good science with local volunteers to restore the Indian River Lagoon for 27 years. With ten scientists and over 800 volunteers who are active every week, MRC restores over eight million square feet of fish habitat and plants over fifty thousand native plants every year. MRC works to create a consensus with the local community and businesses and has stopped the discharge of billions of gallons of sewage and industrial wastewater into the Lagoon and raised millions of dollars to preserve sensitive fish nursery habitats.
Leesa comes to the Marine Resources Council with a Ph.D. in stormwater management and pollution abatement from the University of Central Florida. Leesa was Director of Public Education at the University of Central Florida Stormwater Management Academy and served on the Brevard County Natural Resources Council. Last summer fewer dolphins died in Indian River Lagoon. However, much of the seagrass died during the hot sunny summer months. Loss of the base of the lagoon’s food pyramid has got everyone concerned and researchers at the Marine Resources Council are looking for answers to perplexing questions that relate back to surface run-off and pollution.
As of September 2012, Marty Baum is the Indian Riverkeeper. Marty is deeply connected to Indian River Lagoon. Marty writes: “My family has been living along its shores, trading and fishing upon its waters since 1866. The Indian River gives to us all. The estimated annual economic value of the Indian River Lagoon is $3,725,900,000. That is a staggering economic impact that affects both the communities and economies from Titusville all the way down to Jupiter. Everyone along Indian River Lagoon is directly dependent upon the health and vigor of the ecosystem. We must demand clean water. Every single one of us via our property values, wages, tax bases, services, recreation or our direct livelihoods, benefits from our association with the Lagoon. Essentially, everything about our way of life here is enhanced and given greater value due to the influence of the Indian River Lagoon.”
I will also meet with Captain Nan Beaver of Sunshine Wildlife in Stuart. Capt Nan first introduced me to the wonders of Indian River wildlife taking me out on her education boat into the lagoon. A certified Coastal Master Naturalist by Florida Atlantic University, Nan has been directing on-water education programs since 2000 on the natural history of bottlenose dolphins, manatees, turtles, wood storks, ibises and magnificent frigate birds of the Indian River Lagoon. You may listen to my conversation with Nan on Moir’s Environmental Dialogues.
Your donation to the Ocean River Institute makes it possible for me to listen and learn from the people of this place. Your support enables ORI to get their words out, “surface truth” what is happening to Indian River Lagoon and what we may do to improve conditions for wildlife and people, and to restore clean waters by stopping nitrogen pollution. You may also reduce nitrogen pollution by forwarding this blog to others. Thank you for helping out.