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Fish Kill at Indian River Lagoon Was Months in the Making

Recent fish kills have been happening in Brevard County, just as the the Indian River Lagoon report card is about to be released. A fish kill is unusual for this time of year but has been months in the making, said Dr. Leesa Souto from the Marine Resources Council.

photo by Barbara Collins

“We've had an algae bloom for months and months, and it's when it does that it sucks all the oxygen and we get these fish kills,” Souto said.

But there's hope and a 10-year plan that's already into its fourth year, which tapped into the county's $400 million restoration plans with hundreds of cleanups. All this possible thanks to voters approving the half cent sales tax plan, but progress won't happen overnight and it will take some time.

Regardless, nothing can be as bad as 2016, Souto said. “That was probably rock bottom and you know what they say, you either go up or sideways,” Souto said.

The new report card scores each region of the lagoon on algae, seagrass, phosphorus, nitrogen, and turbidity. So, how does 2020 look?

“There are places in the lagoon that you can harvest oysters and eat them, 50 or 60 projects have been completed,” Souto said. Souto said that mother nature is resilient and the lagoon can still recover, but it needs a little nudge. The Marine Resources Council will release the full results of the report card at a virtual event on December 8.

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