Water quality scientists shut down

Warren Wright

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Water quality scientists shut down

CREATED Oct. 1, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla.-  The federal government shut down continues to have a ripple effect locally.

Cars lined up in front of Ding Darling National Refuge Park on Sanibel.
People are frustrated they couldn't get in.
But even more significant, local scientists focused on water quality are now cut off too!
Here at the Tarpon Bay Recreation area, the gates have been locked, the barricades have been put in place and scientists who are working in a laboratory just beyond the gate are unable to conduct their experiments on water quality and sea grass beds.
Eric Milbrandt is the director of the marine laboratory at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
The government shut down is more than just an inconvenience as he relocates some lab equipment.
Milbrandt said "we were able to collect our computers and hard drives and a few pieces of equipment and our boats today but we were only allowed three hours to do that."
Milbrandt's team is in the middle of important experiments that can't be moved.
The experiments focus on the massive die off of local sea grass beds, related to lake "O" releases.
It's a phenomenon that is expected to have a huge ripple effect on commercial fishing.
Milbrandt explains that "its kind of an ongoing process and we don't want to create gaps in the data we've been collecting."
The park rangers at ding darling want to help but they can only do so much.
Paul Tritaik is the wildlife refuge manager for JN Ding Darling national wildlife refuge.
He explains that "just like all national parks, national monuments and national refuges are
required to close... so unfortunately we don't have a choice."
So for now, without the proper gear, the team of scientists can't even measure for red tide.
But they're determined to monitor what they can while out in the field... at least outside the national park.
Milbrandt added that "for now were making do... doing the best that we can."
And its important to point out that not only have the scientists been shut out from their laboratory - a kayak tour company has been forced to turn away customers as well... proving there are unexpected consequences of having the federal government as your land lord.
Warren Wright