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Intersection: Indian River Lagoon Fish Kill

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Brandon Burdine looks out across the Indian River Lagoon from the shore of his parents' house in Titusville. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Brandon Burdine looks out across the Indian River Lagoon from the shore of his parents' house in Titusville. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Volunteers have hauled thousands of pounds of dead fish out of the Indian River Lagoon, the dumpsters are being removed and in some parts of the lagoon, the water is clear again.

But just because this die off is over, is the lagoon out of danger? Could there be another fishpocalypse soon? On the program today we take a deeper dive into the lagoon, asking why the algae that choked the water was worse this time, and what’s being done to nurse the lagoon slowly back to health.

Intersection ventures out to Titusville and Palm Shores to talk with Duane De Freese from the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program and Tony Sasso, director of Keep Brevard Beautiful about the science behind the big fish die off and how volunteers mobilized to deal with piles of stinking fish carcasses.

Brevard County Commissioner Trudie Infantini explains why she wanted the Governor to declare a state of emergency for the lagoon.

And we visit Brandon Burdine- who grew up beside the lagoon and can’t imagine a future without it.

The dock at the house where Brandon Burdine grew up in Titusville stretches 200 feet into the lagoon
"I'm pretty well traveled, I've been to three other continents, back packed, I've done a lot of things," says Burdine. "But I always come back here. I had the opportunity to buy a house, and I chose to buy a house on the same street I grew up on, if that says anything."
Across the lagoon, you can see the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Somewhere in this murky water, there's a sheepshead nest
Brandon Burdine pulls up an oyster cage from the dock
Growing up next to the lagoon "made me who I am," says Brandon Burdine. "It can't speak for itself, somebody has to, and that somebody is us, the people that have been so touched by it."
A pair of old water skis decorates the dock
Tony Sasso and Duane De Freese. "For Keep Brevard Beautiful a bag of trash is about 20, 25 pounds," says Sasso of the fish cleanup. "These [bags] were about 50 plus pounds sometimes, and trying to bag them and drag them with fish quills sticking through... it was stinky, nasty, hard work. But people did it."
"It's like when you're sick, you get cured of an illness, you still feel kind of lousy for a while and it still takes a while to get back to 100%," says Duane De Freese.  "This system isn't going to respond quickly to change."
The Pineda Causeway

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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »