Science meets art

VERO BEACH, Fla. - More than one hundred scientists, conservationists, politicians and artists are gathering to discuss environmental issues like the toxic water problems that have plagued the Indian River Lagoon. 

The Vero Beach Museum of Art is hosting the event. 

Edie Widder, Ph.D., the CEO and Senior Scientist, of Ocean Research and Conservation Association or ORCA, is studying the specific sources of the toxic water problem. She says one of her concerns is the large loss of sea grass.  It is one of the three most diverse ecosystems on the planet.  The other two are coral reefs and rainforests.

"Losing 46,000 acres of sea grass is like losing a rainforest, and any of the life that is supported. So you ask any of the fisherman, they know what it means," Widder said.

Widder says the Indian River Lagoon is seeing a collapse of ecosystems. Animals are showing up with tumors.  Right now, she is asking for funding for 25 monitoring devices to pinpoint more clearly the causes of the toxic problem.

"You've got a very concentrated potential source of polution in any one of these canals," Widder said.

Widder is working with artists now at the symposium being held at the Vero Beach Museum of Art. 

Janeen Mason is a children's book author and illustrator.

"You won't take care of the things you don't love," Mason said.

Mason and two other artists helped Treasure Coast children paint more than a thousand wooden fish. She says many children she worked with had been afraid of the water she couldn't touch.

"They need to hang, because they idea is that we need to turn this around," Mason said, turning the wooden fish back and forth to show two decorated sides.

Mason hopes the fish will be hung in Stuart and the Treasure Coast next to bring awareness to issues with the waterway ecosystems.

The Martin County Health Department says there are no reports of algae right now because it is not the season for it to bloom, and there are no advisories in place. 


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