Human activity is one of the main reasons the Indian River Lagoon is deteriorating. The choices that we have made, both past and present, are severely affecting our waters today. We are now dealing with dying organisms which takes a hit to our economy and general ecosystem. It has even become unsafe for us to swim in the extremely polluted water.
As beneficial as farming could be to our economy and survival, it did not have the best impact in our environment. Runoffs from nutrient rich soil, pesticides, and waste water seeped into the vulnerable Indian River Lagoon causing an imbalance in its ecosystem. This continues to be an issue as we are currently using fertilizers rich in nitrogen and phosphorus catalyzing the growth of algae. We are now facing algae superblooms, which chokes sea grass from sunlight required for photosynthesis. According to National Public Radio web, manatees are being affected from the depletion of their main food source. They are reverting to macro algae (now a toxic form of seaweed), which are leading to their deaths.
Merritt Island, Fla. use to be the island of mosquitoes until habitants realized it was out of control. Eventually, they thought of a solution and that was to create ditches near the perimeter of the lagoon. Mosquitoes normally lay their eggs in moist environments near bodies of water during breeding season. In a short period of time, eggs hatch after rainfall or flooding occurs. Impoundment disrupts this process by flooding the shores of the lagoon during breeding season and preventing ovipositioning by mosquitoes. However, it also destroys the life cycle of native organisms that live in and around the lagoon according to University of Florida. As if a toxic chemical was a better solution, DDT soon replaced impoundment temporarily.
Non-native species is another issue that affects the Indian River Lagoon. They were either introduced intentionally or accidentally by travelers. As a result, invasive species caused an imbalance due to overpopulation from lack of natural predators or over-competition of food sources. Some examples of non-native organisms invading IRL are green mussel, Brazilian pepper plant, and Australian spotted sea jelly.
A more recent discovery will probably catch you by surprise. Antibiotics are somehow being found in the lagoon. Scientists noticed the presence of residual drugs when they sampled bacterial resistant strains in bottlenose dolphins back in 2011. According to Save the lagoon, Latest studies show that there is a significant increase in resistant bacteria due to disposal and excretion of antibiotics in waste water. Unfortunately, a large amount of waste water is now being found in IRL because of the under-maintenance of septic tanks. Currently, resistant strains are found in surface and ground water as well as sediments. Worst case scenario, if you step into the lagoon and contract an infection, your health will probably be completely compromised because there is absolutely no arsenal to fight off these mutated strains of bacteria.
January 28, 2014