From muck to fish kills, the Indian River Lagoon is plagued by multiple problems

Florida Tech scientist explains how wildlife is negatively affected

By Matt Austin - Anchor

Florida is facing a water crisis. One of the many bodies of water dealing with fish kills and algae blooms is the Indian River Lagoon, which has long been considered one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the United States. 

Scientist Kelli Hunsucker studies the lagoon for the Florida Institute of Technology. She said the lagoon is facing a number of problems. The algae blooms from enhanced nutrients rob the water of oxygen, creating the sporadic fish kills. 

Hunsucker said the other issue is muck at the bottom of the lagoon. Grass clippings and other waste wash into the lagoon and sink to the bottom. The amalgamation of these materials creates a thick, black substance that sinks to the bottom of the lagoon. Hunsucker said it's the consistency of mayonnaise.

The muck envelopes sea grass and oysters on the bottom, killing everything in sight. In some places, Hunsucker said the muck is 15 feet thick at the bottom of the lagoon.

Hunsucker is also working on a project to wrap mats around docks in the lagoon. The mats are built to attract oysters and sponges that filter out water at a frantic pace. One oyster can filter through 50 gallons of water per day.

[Timeline: Indian River Lagoon problems began decades ago]

If you would like to add one of these mats to your dock on the lagoon, you can reach her at khunsucker@fit.edu or click here to download FIT's oyster restoration guide.

Scientists say you can do your part to curb this crisis. Bagging grass clippings and only fertilizing your lawn within regulations could help slow the issues plaguing the Indian River Lagoon.

 

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