Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Video Captures Plume off Lighthouse Beach

August 25, 2021

Our water quality is directly impacted by runoff in our watershed as seen from the tannic/brown freshwater plume merging with the emerald-green Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 13 at Lighthouse Beach Park. The 14-day average flow from S-79 (Franklin Lock and Dam) was 2,743 cubic feet per second, which is in the damaging flow range for seagrass and oysters. 


Tannins make the water brown and block light, which is essential for seagrass growth. For oysters, too much freshwater can result in decreased growth, impair reproduction, and cause mortality. High flow from the watershed and/or Lake Okeechobee can result in high nutrient loading, feeding harmful algal blooms such as red tide and blue-green algae. 

Florida’s modern landscape has been greatly modified, so water is quickly dumped from the streets into surrounding waterbodies at a higher rate than it would flow over a natural landscape. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is undergoing the process of revising and updating the current stormwater regulations. Upgrading our stormwater system will slow water down before entering the estuaries and Gulf of Mexico.

Additionally, enforcement of agricultural best management practices is necessary to limit the amount of nutrients in runoff.

Visit SCCF’s new website that tracks changes to the waters off Lighthouse Beach to see how water clarity changes over time and to learn more about how our ecosystem is affected by Caloosahatchee River watershed.



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