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Freshwater releases impacting Martin County wildlife

Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 06:23:03-04

We've seen the photos and videos of wildlife struggling in blue-green algae.

But we're learning freshwater discharges may be killing their food source and having an even greater impact.

"Always disheartening to see images of manatees swimming in algae," said Zack Jud with the Florida Oceanographic Society. "Manatees have been suffering for quite a while now because their food source has been wiped out."

Freshwater releases into the St. Lucie Estuary creates salinity issues, ultimately resulting in loss of seagrass and oyster beds.

Those are critical habitats for a number of species in the Indian River Lagoon.

"As an angler, I'm not seeing as much fish around locally. There's less food available for our fish. there's less habitat available for them," said Jud.

The Florida Oceanographic Society is working to replenish that lost seagrass.