HOBE SOUND, Fla. — The Indian River Lagoon is a fragile ecosystem that is home to thousands of plants and wildlife.
To help protect the estuary, hundreds of people are volunteering Thursday to help preserve the waterway.
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The event, called "A Day in the Life of the Indian River Lagoon," is a citizen science project where hundreds of volunteers help preserve the estuary by collecting valuable water sample data.
This is the fourth year the event is taking place, and it's helped researchers monitor the current conditions of the lagoon.
"Better understand why collecting this information and helps them understand why the lagoon is important to them," said Missy Weiss, director of Citizen Science and Education at the Ocean Research and Conservation Association. "Provides some local environment context to what they’re learning already in the classroom."
This includes allowing them to document long-term changes happening at the estuary, which spans along the Treasure Coast and into Brevard County.
Many of the volunteers are school-aged children, helping them foster a relationship with their local ecosystems.
"In some cases, this is the first chance that some students have even set foot in the lagoon, believe it or not, and so it gives much more to this day than just collecting the science. It's about giving this irreplaceable experience to students to better understand what's in their backyard," Weiss said.
Organizers said more students participated this year after numbers were much lower in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.