Civic Disengagement Partially to Blame for Red Tides, Lost Summers

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Martin County, located along Florida’s southeast coast, adopted the term “Lost Summer” in 2013 to describe the disaster caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee into coastal communities. Posted signs warned against swimming, fishing, or otherwise coming in contact with the water that was covered in “guacamole-thick” algae. The moniker was unfortunately applicable again in 2016 and now again in 2018.

On Florida’s west coast, red tide has killed nearly 1,100 manatees over the last 23 years, and because blooms now occur so frequently, they are no longer characterized as “unusual mortality events” for these protected marine mammals. The organism that causes red tide is naturally-occurring. The input of human-generated pollution into our coastal waters, which causes that organism to “bloom” and wreak havoc, is far from natural. The same is true for the various algae blooms that have occurred in the Indian River Lagoon in recent years, resulting in the deaths of manatees, dolphins, fish, and sea birds, and the loss of tens of thousands of acres of vitally-important seagrass.

Florida’s waters are in crisis, and we need leaders who will protect our natural environment. Too many of our decision-makers and residents continue to be in denial about our state’s long-running addiction to growth at any cost and the toll it takes on our environment. Politicians have won election and re-election by campaigning on lower taxes and reduced oversight, but they have neglected the need to protect and invest in our natural environment. Too often, voters make decisions without having properly researched candidates, or they fail to vote at all. Until more citizens engage in their democracy and vote with the future in mind, Floridians can expect continued Lost Summers and lost opportunities to fix our ailing waterways.

For more information visit the Save the Manatee Club website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

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