Marine Resources Council Releases 2022 Indian River Lagoon Update | News
BREVARD COUNTY – The Marine Resources Council released its 2022 edition of the Indian River Lagoon Coastal Community Report Card on March 10, which outlined good news about improving water quality in the IRL, but also an alarming loss of seagrass as well.
The presentation began by focusing on the positive in the lagoon, namely improved water quality.
“We’ve seen this change over the last five years, the clarity in particular was coming back and these harmful algal blooms that were happening and going on, they were just going for a very, very long time,” Dr. Leesa Souto said. , Executive Director of the Marine Resources Council. “They were starting to dissipate so there wasn’t as much algae cover and so as a result the chlorophyll-a started to improve and that’s the measure of algae so there’s less harmful algae which is great news and of course with less harmful algae the water becomes clearer.
According to the MRC’s website, “Infrastructure improvements and behavioral changes that reduce stormwater runoff, untreated sewage discharges, faulty septic systems, and residential sources, such as garbage domestic animals and fertilizers, help”.
Overall, Dr. Souto commended the efforts of the community for their efforts to improve FIR.
“Thank God for this community and their outrage and their willingness to scream, scream, plant mangroves, wear 100 pound cement oyster prisms and build reefs, do whatever it takes, to test the water quality every week for 20 years that some people do,” said Dr. Souto. “What people are willing to do voluntarily is so impressive, mind-blowing and inspiring.”
In contrast, Dr. Souto spoke of a decline in seagrass beds in the lagoon. The MRC website called the seagrass “the essence of life in the lagoon”.
Currently, researchers are trying to understand what causes the decline of seagrass beds despite the increase in water quality.
“…Before we even start thinking about any other reason for seagrass decline, we need to recognize that the water must be clear for seagrass to survive,” Dr Souto said. “We’re thrilled because the water is getting clearer and that’s great news and hopefully that’s in response to everyone’s hard work, so we knew this effort was going to be more of a long-term effort.”
Dr. Souto discussed the work taking place across the site in isolation, noting that collaboration could be key to solving the problem.
“So what we want to do with this seagrass assembly is bring everyone together, share what we know, come up with a plan, and then start asking the tough questions. Before we can crack the code, we need to have a protocol to enter it. We need to start figuring out what questions do we even need to ask now. I mentioned some of them, things like, can herbicides kill seagrasses? This is an empirical question.
Ratings were given in various locations in Brevard, and this was repeated throughout the rest of the lagoon, which also runs through Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach counties.
Those interested in seeing all the report card grades in the IRL or getting more information about the MRC should visit savetheirl.org.