The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is a large barrier island estuary on Florida’s East coast. Overall, the IRL system spans 260 km or approximately 40% of Florida’s east coast. The 5,700-km2 watershed includes parts of seven counties, and its original extent has been expanded considerably by canals that drain inland areas, including a major canal linking Lake Okeechobee to the system. The IRL has been declared impaired due to excess nutrient inputs and is within an ecological zone particularly susceptible to climate change effects. Along with being large and complex, the IRL system is one of the nation’s most biologically diverse, and is a major spawning and nursery ground for numerous species of fish and shellfish, and home to populations of dolphins and endangered Florida manatees. The IRL ecosystem has large tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, boating, and aquaculture interests with an annual economic value estimated at nearly $8B. Unfortunately, recurrent large scale harmful algal bloom (HAB) events have seriously threatened both the ecological and economic stability/value of the IRL. The biological-chemical-physical complexity of the system presents a significant challenge to understanding its ecology and dynamics. This presentation will review IRL HABs, their complexities and repercussions to the ecosystem and human health, as well as developing scientific monitoring strategies for an improved understanding of their dynamics.
James Sullivan, Malcolm N. McFarland, Nicole Stockley, and Dennis Hanisak, "Harmful algal bloom dynamics in Southeast Florida and the Indian River Lagoon (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10631, Ocean Sensing and Monitoring X, 1063108 (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 17, 2018; Published: 15 May 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2309654.5783264653001.
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