Strong winds help balance out salinity levels in Treasure Coast estuaries

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- Windy conditions are expected to continue this week along the Treasure Coast.

That brings some concern over beach erosion and beach safety, as escarpments become taller and steeper as wind gusts become stronger.

But some local ocean experts say there are some benefits to be noted that can at times outweigh the risks.

Mark Perry, Executive Director for the Florida Oceanographic Society, says the wind is a good thing for the local estuaries.

High tides and ocean swells push salt water into the inlets and estuaries, boosting salinity that's needed for healthy sea grass and oyster beds.

"In essence, this is pretty devastating for the coast on erosion conditions, but beneficial to the estuary," Perry said.

The St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon were flooded with freshwater from Lake Okeechobee releases over the summer. This extra push of salt water helps boost salinity closer to where it needs to be for a healthy estuary.

Kite-boarder Rick Larson, enjoys the benefits of the gusty winds.

"We can't wait until it gets windy. We look forward to it, " said Rick. He also knows the swells will make the river more ideal in the future for his kite board.

"Days when the wind is out of the west, your only option is to kite in the river," Larson said.

Sightseer Don Degroat, also supports anything that makes his local waterways appear cleaner. "Every little bit counts," Degroat said.

Perry says the salt water would typically make the estuaries look cleaner. But, he says the wind also stirs up some of the extra sediment left from the releases over the summer.

Therefore, the water may be cleaner, but still look polluted.

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