Dying sea grass beds
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS, Fla.- A puzzling predicament in southwest Florida, large amounts of sea grass are floating up to the surface of our estuaries, something that typically doesn't happen until winter.
But finding out why, has become a real problem.
The water is too dark to see through, and it's getting worse.
For the first time in a long time, fisherman are complaining of dark water around Bokeelia as it reaches into Charlotte Harbor.
Fisherman from Bokeelia like "Rocky" say the last two weeks have been worthless, especially with large fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee.
Rocky said, "I can't catch the fish that I used to catch.... their gone."
Captain Jack Stanaland ferrys people out to Cayo Costa and he doesn't like what he's seeing either.
He added that "we do see that quality of dark water coming up into Charlotte Harbor.
That concerns me, this is a tourist industry and people like to come here for that clear clean water."
But there's another issue boaters are facing.
Carole Faircloth works at Monroe Canal Marina and she says "I've seen grass floating more recently in the past two weeks than I have in the past year."
Local sea grass beds are critical for providing shelter for invertebrates and small fish... which in turn provide food for the bigger game fish. Lose the sea grass, lose the fish, and the economy takes a hit.
Judy Ott is a marine scientist for the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.
She says all this continuous fresh water is problematic: "it stresses the sea grasses so much that they die back and then they get ripped out... then when that happens its really hard to reestablish them."
Fisherman and scientists all say the same thing, reservoirs are needed to hold the excess water around lake okeechobee, clean it, and push it south into the Everglades.
But first elected officials have to make it a priority.