As South Florida suffers through one of the most prolific red tides in history, we here at River Ventures mourn the loss of marine life and are already feeling the effect on visitor numbers. This means that hundreds of hard-working locals may have to mourn the loss of their jobs as well. Daily we receive calls of concern, not only for our beloved manatees, but also regarding our tour schedule. Crystal River is extremely glad to say that the effects of red tide are far South of us, and we are still operating under good conditions daily. Fact is, the condition of our Bay is possibly better than it has been in years, due to an eel-grass resurrection project contributed by the residents, volunteers, Manatee Eco-companies, and the University of Florida, SWFWMD in conjunction with Duke energy.
Our eel grass beds offer the manatees not only food sources, but are a lush habitat for fish, turtles and other wildlife. Our special eel grass hybrids, developed by the University of Florida, also serve to filter the water of pollutants that can exacerbate neo-natural phenomena like red tide. Healthy eco-systems are the first line of defense against these habitat destroyers! Our springs are constantly pumping and our grass beds along with the ongoing wetland restoration continuously filter runoff from surrounding areas. We are proud to say that the beauty is breathtaking, but the results in water clarity and animal retention are unlike anything we have seen in years!
We feel extraordinarily blessed to have the red tide so far away, but we hope that this mass mortality event will raise global awareness as to the dire need for eco-education and invested interest from parties other than greedy Industry and corrupt, shortsighted politicians. Florida's eco-system is so fragile, and truly a reflection of what can happen globally without substantial change. This aggressive overgrowth of algae-bloom occurs each year, but intensifies with high temperatures, pollution like fertilizers, pesticides and farming runoff, then it's made worse by stagnant water and lack of healthy, indigenous plant growth. This year it has been unusually strong since emerging in October, and is now the longest outbreak since 2006. At least 80 manatees have died from red tide so far this year according to Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and they expect many more. The loss of other marine life, has been staggering as well... and the sights and smells on the Southern beaches today is very different than what it was a few months ago. How can you make a difference, you ask??
VISIT FLORIDA!! Do not stay away. Come swim in our spring fed fresh waters, take in our gorgeous sunsets, support our struggling businesses and spread that love around the globe. Educate yourself, write your local Representatives and support businesses that support Mother Nature. We must evolve, make changes or this tragedy will be the beginning of many more to come. The oceans and their residents need our protection... it's time to stop seeing the problems as TOO BIG, and time to start make small changes that matter.
SUPPORT FLORIDA and we will be here to enjoy and share with your loved ones for years to come!