Q: How does algae kill fish and other marine life?
A: During daylight, algae produce oxygen through photosynthesis, replenishing oxygen levels in the water. But at night, the algae consume oxygen. This, coupled with the normal demand for oxygen from fish, crabs and other marine life can cause dips in dissolved oxygen in the lagoon, with the lowest levels just before dawn.
As dense clusters of fish rot, bacteria increase, further consuming oxygen in the water.
The kinds of algae blooming now are not known to be toxic. But some kinds of algae can kill fish by releasing toxins into the water. Or the shape and amount of algae particles in the water can clog up fish gills.
Q: Why is the lagoon so unhealthy?
A: The problem has been brewing for years. Decades of pollution from septic tanks, fertilizers, stormwater runoff and other sources, coupled with a "perfect storm" of drought, followed by record cold in 2010, set the stage for harsh algae blooms in 2011.
A "superbloom" of green algae that year and subsequent brown algae blooms killed some 60 percent of the lagoon's seagrass, the barometer of the estuary's ecological health. Hundreds of manatees, dolphins and pelicans also died in the wake of the blooms.
Q: Did the large water releases from Lake Okeechobee cause the current bloom?
A: No. While those water releases cause blooms in the St. Lucie River and the southern Indian River Lagoon, most of that water exits inlets before it reachesBrevard County's portion of the lagoon.
"It's not Lake Okeechobee, that's pretty much certain," said Ed Phlips, professor of algal physiology and ecology at the University of Florida. "Lake Okeechobee discharges more for the St. Lucie (River). That's a whole different ballgame down there."
The US theme park operator SeaWorld says it is ending its controversial orca breeding programme.
The trash is building up from this weekend at beaches along Biscayne Bay. At our usual shore diving site, you can now see trash blowing into the water and birds attempting to eat styrofoam and other garbage items. The Spring Break celebrations are taking their toll on the local wildlife and eventually trash makes its way to the ocean where it can take hundreds of years to break down. More likely, however, is that plastic bags and other items are mistaken for food and ingested by local marine life, causing harm or death.
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"A radioactive isotope linked to water from power plant cooling canals has been found in high levels in Biscayne Bay, confirming suspicions that Turkey Point’s aging canals are leaking into the nearby national park.