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Brown Tide Looms Over Central Florida Lagoons

Previous tide bloom in the Indian River Lagoon region. Photo by St. Johns River Water Management staff.

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Scientists are monitoring brown tide in the Banana River Lagoon and the northern part of the Indian River Lagoon. The brownish color is a sign of low water quality.

St. Johns River Water Management District’s Ed Garland said it’s hard to pinpoint the cause of the algae bloom but phosphorous and nitrogen levels from storm water runoff play a role. If a bloom lasts too long it can kill seagrass.

“The seagrasses in the Indian River Lagoon are generally sort of a barometer for the health of the lagoon. When the seagrass is flourishing, you know the water quality is pretty good because the sunlight is able to penetrate and reach the bottom of the lagoon,” said Garland.

An algal “superbloom” in 2011 destroyed about 47,000 acres of seagrass.

Seagrasses provide habitat for marine life, food for manatees and add dissolved oxygen which helps aquatic animals breathe.

The water management district says the Indian River Lagoon has a $3.7 billion annual economic impact on the region.


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