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

Local Water Temperatures Top 90°F

June 5, 2024
tarpon bay sanibel

Tarpon Bay on Sanibel

Article updated June 11, 2024

In late May and early June, maximum recorded temperatures topped 90°F at multiple SCCF RECON sites located in the Caloosahatchee Estuary and Gulf of Mexico. Though heavy rainfall over the coming days will lessen these temperature spikes, the overall warming trend remains concerning.

Water temperatures shown from four SCCF RECON sites at Tarpon Bay, Fort Myers, Shell Point, and McIntyre Creek from May 25-June 1, 2024.

Measuring Temperatures with the River, Estuary, and Coastal Observing Network (RECON)
SCCF manages a network of water quality sensors deployed throughout the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary that provide real-time water quality data to the public. These sensors measure key parameters such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll and together comprise the River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON). 

These water quality parameters from various local stations are reported each week in SCCF’s Caloosahatchee Conditions Report as a joint effort of SCCF’s Marine Lab and the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Water temperature from May 5 to June 2 in the years 2016 (blue line), 2020 (black line), and 2024 (red line).

“This data helps inform stakeholders on local water quality conditions and provide science-based recommendations for the management of the greater Caloosahatchee system,” said SCCF Policy Associate Allie Pecenka. “Water temperature, along with other parameters are displayed in the Caloosahatchee Conditions report, with the lowest and highest values recorded over the week.”

While water temperatures this high are common in summer months, a spike earlier in the season may represent a larger trend of Warming Water Temperatures in the Caloosahatchee and Gulf of Mexico, Pecenka said.

Higher water temperatures make the Caloosahatchee River and estuary more vulnerable to harmful algal blooms, have adverse effects on aquatic life, and can intensify storms in the Gulf and Atlantic.

“Warming waters also have large-scale global impacts, intensifying sea-level rise that threatens our coasts and way of life,” Pecenka said.

Higher global temperatures cause seawater to warm and increase in volume through a process called thermal expansion, taking up more space in the oceans. This process, combined with the accelerated melting of glaciers and ice sheets from warmer global temperatures, leads to rising sea levels.

Stay up to date with daily water quality data by using the RECON site and subscribing to our weekly Caloosahatchee Conditions Report and Water Conditions Tracker.


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