environment

THE TIMES/RICHARD POHLE

This week on The Florida Roundup: 

How much or how little the state of Florida is  telling the public about the spread of the Zika virus has come under scrutiny. So why are some saying the Florida Department of Health's daily Zika update may not be providing the complete picture? 

Lake Okeechobee’s water level remain near a historic high after Hurricane Hermine hit Florida last week.

The state’s largest lake has been rain-swollen all year, prompting releases of excess polluted water to coastal estuaries. The influxes triggered toxic algae blooms this summer.

Serious algae outbreaks have hit more than 20 states this summer. Organisms are shutting down beaches in Florida, sickening swimmers in Utah and threatening ecosystems in California.

The blooms are a normal part of summer, but the frequency, size and toxicity this year are worse than ever.

And water managers are rattled.

"Everyone's on edge with the cyanobacteria," says Bev Anderson, a scientist with the California Water Resources Control Board.

Emails reporting outbreaks of cyanobacteria — or blue-green algae — fill Anderson's inbox every morning.

The Obama administration has once again refused Florida Gov. Rick Scott's request to declare a federal state of emergency because of algae blooms on the St. Lucie River.


UPDATE: If you think you've spotted  a New Guinea flatworm in your area, the recommendation is to not touch it, take a picture of it and report it to state wildlife officials at 888-IVE-GOT1.

An invasive flatworm could potentially threaten wildlife, and even people in Southwest Florida. The New Guinea Flatworm was first found in the state near Miami more than a year ago. Now, they’ve popped up in Cape Coral, and most recently, Sanibel Island. 

Nara Souza / Florida Fish and Wildlife Commision

The Everglades Foundation is set to kick off a $10 million prize to spur new technology that might offer a solution to toxic algae blooms like the one now affecting the Treasure Coast.

Algae blooms are typically caused by runoff from large-scale agriculture or sewage, which can leach large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus into fresh water. Erik Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation, shares the goals and potential impact of a technology that could reduce harmful runoff in the Everglades and beyond.

What is the George Barley Prize? 

Scientists found blue-green algae again in Southwest Florida waters this week. The toxic algae has been plaguing beaches on the east coast for weeks now.  Experts say this could get worse on both coasts now because of the summer heat.

The toxic blue-green algae plaguing the Treasure Coast has inspired people to take action against one of Lake Okeechobee's largest pollutants: Big Sugar. Last week, a surf shop in Stuart started a petition asking Publix to stop buying from Florida Big Sugar.

 

“Publix is a Florida-owned company so it's got to be affecting them, the owner, in some way,” said Brent Meinhold, one of the managers of Ohana Surf Shop.

 

A massive bloom of blue-green algae has hit four southern Florida counties, blanketing beaches in foul-smelling muck and raising health and environmental concerns.

Protestors gathered Friday in Stuart near the private land visited by Senator Marco Rubio during his tour viewing areas hit by the algae.
Jill Roberts

This week on The Florida Roundup...

New details are emerging about the horror inside the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Transcripts of police communications also raise questions about the  law enforcement response. Why is it important to understand the police decisions involved, and what do these records indicate?

Listen here: 

Key West Wildlife Center

  Least terns are having a banner breeding year in Key West.

That's good news — the seabirds are listed as threatened by the state of Florida.

But it also means more young birds are falling from the rooftops where many least terns nest.

Miami Herald

Florida Power & Light has until June 24 to provide a plan to the state Department of Environmental Protection to stop the saltwater plume that originates in the cooling canals at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant in South Miami-Dade.

On Monday, state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami-Dade,  told the South Florida Regional Planning Commission that it was important for people from throughout the region to weigh in and make sure the fix gets done right. 

Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission

  The boat that ran into a patch reef off Key West recently left without reporting the grounding. But it left some pieces behind.

"Essentially, this is a hit-and-run on the coral," said Sean Morton, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. "We're on the lookout for a very large boat that is missing one prop and has probably a very large dent and damage to the hull on the front."

Logan Fazio

On a scorcher of a day at the beach, there's almost nothing like reaching into your cooler or a beach bag and taking a swig out of an ice cold water bottle.

But if they're plastic, all those little bottles add up.

It's estimated that 60 million plastic bottles are used in the United States every day, with many of them going unrecycled and ending up in landfills and in the ocean. But in Miami-Dade, a non-profit is enlisting the help of some old-fashioned technology in the fight against plastic waste: the water fountain.

How do you teach kids about ecology when the natural world is shrinking around them?

In fast growing Florida, one solution is to take environmental studies outside the walls of a classroom.

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