For those who aren’t aware, the Everglades and it’s surrounding waters are in danger of being extremely polluted (Though they already are quite polluted) and the Everglades themselves being greatly reduced. There are two ways to look at the growing problem in the Everglades and it’s surrounding coastal waters. 1st, the quality of the water entering and leaving the Everglades. 2nd, the quantity of water entering and leaving the Everglades. Let’s talk about water quality first. Pollution of the Glades and surrounding coastal waters happens from agricultural runoff that is dumped into lake Okeechobee. When the lake floods, the water overflows and drains eventually reaching Everglades further down into the Keys. This runoff brings and unhealthy abundance of nutrients, such as phosphorus, toxic sulfides and nitrogen. Which in turn causes dangerous algal blooms and kills resident plant life. These algal blooms can choke out the waters fish, amphibians, native reptiles, insects and so on. Also, the flow of the rivers and other bodies of water has been altered so much, that the Everglades is actually shrinking. It is not receiving the runoff it once did, at least not in the volume it did. What runoff it does receive is polluted by agricultural fertilizers and other chemicals. Now, lets talk about quantity. The Everglades was covering almost 3 million acres. That number has been greatly reduced; about half the original size to be exact (www.evergladesfoundation.org).
How did this happen? Well in a simple answer, we did it. Throughout time, humans have created canals to drain water from the Everglades. This was done to allow more land to be used for agriculture and housing developments. This is a growing issue in more and more locations throughout the world. As a species, we have a tendency to build outward, not upward. Three key pieces to a stable ecosystem are, space, resource availability and an ability for organisms to perpetuate their genes. The Everglades is host to thousands of species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate). We’ve greatly decreased the size of the Glades, which limits the amount of space these species need to grow and reproduce. We are damaging an ecosystem that was already fragile to begin with, like most wet lands.
What does this mean for fishing? Like all ecosystems, there is a nutrient cycle from beginning to end. The runoff from the Everglades supplies the coastal waters with nutrients, which in turn feeds to marine organisms near by. However, when this runoff is polluted, you create a bigger problem. Some organisms thrive on an abundance of incoming pollutants, such as phosphates and nitrates. Organisms such algae. This abundance causes algal blooms. These algal blooms can cause acidification of the water, not through a release of toxins from the algae themselves, but rather by using up a good share of dissolved oxygen in the water and also through death and decay of the algae. This causes an acidification process and harms fish and other marine life. If you’ve ever had a fish tank, you have to keep track of the pH of the tank. If the pH becomes to basic or to acidic, the fish die or get very ill. Essentially this is what is happening in the coastal regions surrounding the Everglades. Couple this with climate change, whether you believe climate change to be real or not, that’s not the point. It’s happening, it’s here and you can’t deny it. 2016 has been the hottest year on record according to overall average temperatures. If you don’t believe, research it on your own. I assure you there is no conspiracy afoot. Rising ocean temperatures and acidic waters are a causing a plethora of issue, and also impacting the sport we love.
If you care about this world and the activities we do, do your part and stop the nonsense. We have a voice, we should use it. If you want to try and help the cause in the Everglades, follow the link at the bottom of the post and sign the petition.