Last week we had the pleasure of attending the Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative Symposium at Palm Beach Atlantic University. It was a fantastic event where we learned so much about the Lake Worth Lagoon and it’s inhabitants. I look forward to sharing more of what we learned during the event in future posts.
Today will focus on some of the marine life that can be found in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
Our first session of the morning was entitled exactly that, “Marine Life Found in the Lake Worth Lagoon” and was presented by photographer Anne DuPont. Very entertaining and energetic, Ms. DuPont shared her experiences and photographs from diving in the area of the Lagoon by the bridges in Riveria Beach by Singer Island.
You can see a number of photos taken by Ann by visiting her profile page at the South Florida Underwater Photography Society website.
Celebrate the 10th annual Seagrass Awareness Month by learning a little more about this vital habitat that is seldom seen. Seagrass beds provide important protection for fish nurseries, scallops and other living things. Additionally, it is an important source of food for the manatee.
From the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s website:
Florida waters contain the largest sea grass meadow in the world. Approximately 2.2 million acres of seagrass beds have been mapped in nearshore Florida waters, but the total area of seagrasses in our state’s coastal waters is declining. This extremely valuable resource provides ecological services worth over $40 billion each year. Seagrass is important in providing many functions that contribute to a healthy marine ecosystem.
Florida is a world renowned fishing destination, and many economically important commercial and recreational fish and shellfish species depend on healthly seagrass beds for critical stages of their life cycle. Recreational fishing activity injected more than $4.5 billion into Florida communities in the form of retail sales, employment compensation and business earnings in 2006.
Unfortunately, seagrass beds are susceptible to injuries such as boat propeller scaring and vessel groundings. Florida has nearly one million registered boats, and boating activities can severely impact or completely wipe out localized seagrass meadows. Resource managers, scientists, and private industry consultants work together to restore damaged areas and investigate new seagrass restoration products and methods. Coastal eutrophication, the process by which water is depleted of oxygen due to overgrowth of competing smaller plants, impacts sea grass as well. Eutrophication is a major concern among leading marine and estuarine scientists because murky water limits sunlight which slows seagrass growth. Major efforts to improve and restore water quality have resulted in seagrass expansion in some Florida estuaries.
In an effort to protect and conserve this invaluable habitat, resource managers and scientists throughout Florida have been conducting intensive seagrass monitoring and mapping programs. In 2009, a total of 34 seagrass monitoring programs were identified throughout the state. March is set aside to educate residents, visitors, and all Florida boaters about the threats facing our vital seagrass meadows. Please join Governor Rick Scott in acknowledging the 10th annual Seagrass Awareness Month.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) is responsible for the State’s 41 aquatic preserves. It is the mission of CAMA to protect, enhance, and restore the natural habitats and resources of more than 4 million acres of submerged lands. CAMA is helping to protect seagrasses by mapping and monitoring existing seagrass communities, posting signs to advise boaters of the presence of seagrasses, informing the public of the benefits of sea grass and developing restoration plans with other agencies.
Lake Osborne is an inland lake located at John Prince Park in Lake Worth, Florida. A popular bass fishing spot, this freshwater lake is home to an assortment of birds and wildlife. Quite large, the lake runs north and south and is between Lake Worth Rd and Hypoluxo Rd.
The boat ramps are located at the north end of the park at the Lake Worth Rd. entrance, this is also where we launch kayaks. There is some boat traffic on Lake Osbourne that you have to be aware of, but it can be a beautiful paddle and great for kayak fishing too.
The American Oystercatcher is a large shorebird living in coastal environments around the world. In the United States, the Oystercatcher lives along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. There is a Black Oystercatcher that lives exclusively on the Pacific Coast.
In Central Palm Beach County, the Snook Islands have become a breeding ground and home to the American Oystercatcher. The birds had reportedly disappeared from the area for the last couple decades, but thanks to restoration efforts, the Oystercatcher has been able to make a home in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
A shy bird, the American Oystercatcher has a relatively low population with less than 9,000 birds residing in North America. While its numbers and range have been on the increase, they are vulnerable to marine habitat loss.
Oystercatchers nest in early spring just above the high tide mark, the male and female work together to construct the nest on the ground. In areas with many nesting Oystercatchers, they sometimes use communal breeding wherein one male and two females tend up to six eggs. Newly hatched chicks are fed by the parents for up to eight weeks. Young American Oystercatchers flock together and sometimes form pairs, but they don’t breed until their third year. The pairs may last for life. For more information, see the Audubon profile for the American Oystercatcher.
All photos taken in the Snook Islands from kayaks. For information on renting kayaks in the Lake Worth Lagoon, visit the Kayak Lake Worth website.
Greetings! The blog has been on a bit of a hiatus over the holidays, it is the beginning of our busy season at Kayak Lake Worth, so it’s been tough to make time for everything!
We just got the Full Moon on the Lagoon Tour dates posted through March and Sunset Tour dates for February.
During Full Moon Tours, we are out on the water for about 30 minutes in moonlight only. Sunset Tours are always in daylight and twilight. So, choose your tour accord to your preference. We can also accommodate your group of 4 + if you have a preference for a Sunset Tour on a date other than what we have posted.
If you have been to the Snook Islands Natural Area, or traveled over the Lake Worth Bridge in the last few months, you may have wondered what all that equipment and boats are about.
Just to the north of the bridge a work area is visible where the second phase of the Snook Islands Restoration Project is well underway, and to the south is the Bryant Park project which will bring new boat ramps and two new piers – one complete with a new kayak launch!
The Andy Reid from the Sun Sentinal has a great article that provides more information on the project, you can read the article in it’s entirety below, or click here for the original article.
Snook Islands growing in Lake Worth Lagoon
“Heron and fishermen alike are getting new hunting grounds in the Lake Worth Lagoon.
Mounds of dirt floating by barge along the Intracoastal Waterway are laying the groundwork for new sea grass beds and mangrove islands soon to take root off the shores of Lake Worth.
Months of work has begun on the $2.3 million project to expand the Snook Islands Natural Area, 100 acres of marine habitat initially created in 2005 to help breathe new life into the lagoon — suffering from decades of waterfront development and pollution.
The new expansion is expected to add more mangrove islands, oyster reefs and sea grass beds, which provide habitat for fish, wading birds and manatees while attracting fishermen, birdwatchers and kayakers to the waterfront.
The work also includes adding new sea grass beds and mangroves offshore of nearby Bryant Park.
“What we have proven is [that] we can create vast areas of sea grass, oysters and mangroves that bring a lot of birds and fish and help filter the water,” said Daniel Bates, Palm Beach County‘s deputy director of Environmental Resources Management. “It has good recreational benefits and good habitat benefits at the same time.”
The creation of the Snook Islands is aimed at fixing environmental problems lingering from dredging and development that started decades ago.
Sediment dredged from the lagoon in the 1920s was used to fill in wetlands and expand the Lake Worth waterfront where the city’s golf course now sits.
But that digging left underwater holes that through the years collected polluted muck, smothered life-giving sea grass beds and worsened water quality.
The initial $18 million Snook Islands project started filling in those holes and enabled planting 11 acres of mangroves, about 2 acres of oyster reefs and 60 acres of sea grass beds just north of Lake Worth Bridge.
This year, work was finished on $2 million of public access facilities that included a 600-foot boardwalk, a fishing pier, boat docks and a kayak and canoe launch.
The new expansion calls for adding about 7 acres of sea grass beds, another 1/2-acre of oyster reefs and 3/4-acre of mangroves parallel to the existing Snook Islands, Bates said.
Another 5 acres of sea grass beds and 1/2-acre of mangroves are planned off shore of Bryant Park, on the south side of the bridge.
More Snook, tarpon, redfish and bait fish can already be found thanks to the initial Snook Islands project, according to fishermen who target the area.
“That was one big dead zone. It was nothing but muck. Now you build these island chains and it has drawn fish,” said charter fishing captain Danny Barrows, who primarily fishes the lagoon. “They are fish magnets … It’s a fun place to fish.”
The work is expected to last about six months and is being paid for with state funds, according to Bates.
The dirt being used to fill in the dredge holes comes from digging to create new wetlands at the county’s Okeeheelee Park.
A parade of dump trucks brings the dirt to Byrant Park, where a long conveyor belt on the shoreline feeds the dirt onto barges that carry it to the dump sites.
The kayak launch, boardwalk and other recreation amenities that opened this year have helped give people more access to the waterway, said Juan Ruiz, Lake Worth’s Leisure Services Director.
“It has been a great benefit, a great amenity to the city,” Ruiz said. “We are really pleased with the project. It gets used every day.”
Mangroves once lined the shores of the lagoon, before waterfront development brought seawalls that wiped away the vital marine habitat.
The Snook Islands Natural Area and the newly completed South Cove in West Palm Beach are among the environmental restoration projects in the lagoon aimed at bringing back more marine habitat.
While too much shoreline has been tampered with to fully restore the lagoon, Bates said, “we can certainly make steps in the right direction.”
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