Freshwater releases devastating SWFL ecosystem
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Dark brown waters, massive amounts of seaweed and tape grass are taking over the typically clear Southwest Florida coastline.
Jim Trudel said he's been visiting Fort Myers Beach ever since he can remember but said this year he noticed a change at his favorite vacation destination.
" It has always been a nice serene place to be the waters are a little bit darker now." Trudel said.
The dark and murky water is making visitors weary about hopping in.
" We came down to Fort Myers because we expected clearer water and we didn't get it this time." Mark Robinson said.
" It makes me think there is all kinds of mud and junk in there and stingrays." One beach visitor said.
The muddy looking water is a result of heavy summer rains. Rae Ann Wessel with the Sanibel- Captiva Conservation Foundation said for flood control, fresh water from Lake Okeechobee is being released into the Gulf of Mexico, blocking sunlight from getting to plants and sea life.
" The freshwater that's coming out of the run off has plant material in it that causes that dark brown color just the same way a tea bag in a cup of hot water." Wessel said.
" It is extremely upsetting it's extremely damaging in Lee County where our environment and our nature coast is our economy this is a devastating blow. For Oysters, Blue Crab and all kinds of things that we like to eat, that has been completely blown out." Wessel said.
Fisherman Mark Robinson said that could explain why he hasn't had much luck with his hook and line.
" We've been out here 3 hours, not having very good luck. We caught a few catfish that's about it. We were hoping to catch some shark maybe a mackerel or something, no luck." Robinson said.
Conservation officials said there are some studies being done to see if there are alternatives to dumping freshwater into the gulf. But for now, these conditions could last through September.