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Stuart nonprofit encouraging everyone to advocate for clean water

'We're all doing something to help the Indian River Lagoon that needs so much help,' Mike Denniston says
Florida Oceanographic Society July 4 2023.png
Posted at 8:59 AM, Jul 04, 2023

STUART, Fla. — It's easy to get swept away with the scenes at the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart, where Mother Nature is on display for everyone to enjoy.

"The same wonder you'd see in the eyes of a pre-schooler is the same wonder you'll see in the retiree who's seeing a stingray for the first time or a turtle up-close," Zack Jud, director of education and exhibits, said.

There are touch tanks filled with sea creatures for children and adults to learn about.

Volunteers frequent the center, some weaving seagrass, which is food for manatees.

"It's almost meditative," volunteer Mike Denniston said. "You get into what you're doing. It's soothing and calming. The over-riding thing is we're all doing something to help the Indian River Lagoon that needs so much help."

Jud said over the years, the seagrass growth has declined tremendously.

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"In the last decade, we've lost 90% of the seagrass that used to live in Indian River," he said. "We know right now, water quality is not good enough for seagrass to flourish, but that's doesn't mean we shouldn't try to figure out how to figure out how to make it flourish."

The center is now encouraging others to advocate for clean water to improve our ecosystems and help marine life thrive.

"We need everyone to be involved in that process and stand up for our waters," Casey Kniffin, advocacy coordinator, said. "We do a lot behind the scenes."

Kniffin said much of their work right now is centered on water releases from Lake Okeechobee.

"There is pressure coming from sea level rise, human-induced climate," Kniffin said. "These releases have been happening for 100 years. All of them together is a very dangerous mix for our ecosystems."

To learn more about the Florida Oceanographic Society, click here.