Treasure Coast Essay
7:20 am
Mon July 8, 2013

“Killing Zone”

Manatees, brown pelicans and dolphins are dying in the Indian River Lagoon, as Paul Janensch reports in this Treasure Coast Essay.

It’s worse than I thought.  Back in April, I commented on the alarming number of manatees found dead of shock in the Indian River Lagoon, mostly in Brevard County just above the Treasure Coast.  Now we know that dolphins and brown pelicans are also dying prematurely in the lagoon.  According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, from the start of the year to the middle of June, this is the grim toll: 111 manatees, at least 250 brown pelicans and 46 bottlenose dolphins.  Usually, the dead creatures look under-nourished – sometimes emaciated.  Some naturalists call the northern part of the lagoon “a killing zone.”  Who or what is to blame? We are, at least in part.  Scientists believe two causes are: polluted water dumped from Lake Okeechobee by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and storm-water runoff laced with fertilizer, which nourishes algae, which disrupt the food chain.  The lagoon contains the greatest diversity of plants and animals anywhere in the U.S.  It is our economic and recreational lifeline.  A headline in the London Daily Mail proclaimed, “Florida lagoon is an animal ‘mass murder mystery.’”  Publicity like that we don’t need.  For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.