Category Archives: Lake Worth Lagoon

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.

 


American Oystercatchers

American Oystercatchers in the Snook Islands in the Lake Worth Lagoon.

White Heron

Heron at sunrise at the Bingham Islands in the Lake Worth Lagoon

Perception Kayaks

Kayak Lake Worth kayaks getting a break in the Snook Islands.

Snook Islands Restoration

Stopping by to say hi at Phase II of the Snook Islands Restoration Project.

Lake Worth Lagoon

Pretty as a postcard in the Snook Islands

South florida sunrise

Watching the sunrise over Palm Beach in the Snook Islands.

American Oystercatcher

One of the American Oystercatchers of the Snook Islands.

Lake Worth Lagoon Snook Islands

View of the Lake Worth Golf Course Clubhouse from the Snook Islands.

Lake Worth Lagoon

Lake Worth drawbridge as seen from the Snook Islands

Supervising the work at Phase II of the Snook Islands Restoration Project.

Supervising the work at Phase II of the Snook Islands Restoration Project.


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.


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 American Oystercatchers in the Snook Islandsbirds 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.

American Oystercatcher, Lake Worth Fl       Am. Oystercatchers

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.

Kayaks in Snook Beach    DSC02211

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 Countys 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.”

abreid@tribune.com, 561-228-5504 or Twitter@abreidnews

Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


As the weather cools off and water temperatures drop in north and central Florida, manatees begin making their way down to our neck of the state. About half of our customers in the past week have reported seeing manatees in the Snook Islands.

If you are out in the water, you need to be aware of these gentle giants and observe slow-speed and no-entry zones. WCTV in Tallahassee published a great article outlining the danger boat and humans pose to manatees and waterway speed zones by county, I have included the text below. You can also view the original source by clicking here.

Tallahassee, Florida – November 17, 2012

Now that the weather outside is chilly, Florida manatees are migrating to warmer waters. They swim in search of a warm winter refuge such as freshwater springs or canals adjacent to power plant outflows.

An adult manatee may weigh 1,000 pounds or more but is susceptible to cold. Water temperatures dipping to 68 degrees or below can produce cold stress in these aquatic mammals, and even cause death.

With many of the seasonal manatee protection zones going into effect on Nov. 15, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to be vigilant about slowing down and watching out for manatees. In Broward County, some slow speed zones formerly active only on weekends are now in effect every day during the cold season. November is designated as Manatee Awareness Month because of this seasonal migration.

“Many manatees in Florida have scars from run-ins with boats. We can do our part to help by complying with slow-speed and no-entry zones that indicate manatees may be in the area,” said Kipp Frohlich, who leads the FWC’s imperiled species management section. “Boaters should slow down where manatees like to congregate, such as seagrass beds and warm-water sites.”

How to spot Florida’s official marine mammal?

Boaters and personal watercraft operators should scan the water near or in front of their vessels and look for signs that manatees are close by, including repetitive swirl patterns called a manatee footprint, a mud trail, or a snout or fluke (tail) breaking the water’s surface.
Here are some other steps boaters and personal watercraft operators can take to help manatees migrate safely:

* Keep vessels in marked channels;
* Wear polarized sunglasses to improve your vision;
* Obey posted boat speed zones;
* Use poles, paddles or trolling motors when close to manatees;
* Have someone help scan the water when under way.

Besides following manatee-safety recommendations, people can help manatees survive by reporting sick, distressed, injured, orphaned or entangled manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com. Florida residents also can call #FWC or *FWC via cell phone.

Manatee conservation is supported by Floridians who purchase the state’s manatee license plate. Funds from this specialty tag go directly to manatee research and conservation.

Copies of complete individual county waterway rules are available at http://www.flrules.org. Visit MyFWC.com/Manatee or call the FWC at 850-922-4330 for more information.

Below are the manatee winter waterway speed zone changes by county, including the waterways where most speed zone changes occur in November.

Brevard County
Nov. 15 – March 31
*No-entry and motorboats-prohibited zones – North Indian River area around discharge canals of the Reliant Corp. Power Plant and Florida Power and Light’s Frontenac Power Plant.
* Idle-speed zone – West of Intracoastal Waterway in general vicinity of power plants.

Broward County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* Idle speed – Port Everglades Power Plant area. Portions of the South New River Canal and Dania Cut-off Canal near the Lauderdale Power Plant.
* Slow speed – Intracoastal Waterway from the Palm Beach County line through Hillsboro Inlet south to Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades area. (Note: Some portions are weekend-only slow speed.)

Citrus County
Sept. 1 – Feb. 28
*25 mph – Lower (western) portions of Withlacoochee River and Bennetts Creek.
Sept. 1 – March 31
* 25 mph – Lower (western) portions of the Chassahowitzka River.
Sept. 1 – April 30
* Idle speed or slow speed – Portions of Kings Bay.
Oct. 1 – April 30
* Slow speed – Portions of the Homosassa River between the Salt River and Trade Winds Marina and southern portion of Halls River.
Nov. 15 – April 30
* Slow speed – All waters in the vicinity of the Florida Power Corp.’s effluent canal.
Nov. 15 – March 31
* No entry – Within the Blue Waters area of the upper Homosassa River near Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Hillsborough County
Nov. 15 – March 31
*No entry – Portions of the discharge canal of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.
* Idle speed – General vicinity of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.

Indian River County
Nov. 1 – April 30
* Slow speed – Within Sand and Shell islands area, Channel Marker 66 south to Channel Marker 75; Indian River area from Hobert Lodge Marina to North Canal; and from Channel Marker 156 south to St. Lucie County line west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Nov. 15 – March 31
* No entry – Portion of canal system adjacent to Vero Beach Power Plant.

Lee County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* No entry – Discharge and intake canals of the Florida Power & Light Tice Power Plant.
* Idle speed and slow speed – Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel on the Caloosahatchee River in the vicinity of the Tice Power Plant.
* 25 mph – Portions of Estero Bay, Hurricane Bay, Hell Peckney Bay and Hendry Creek.
* Seasonally unregulated – Cayo Costa, North Captiva, Captiva and St. James City areas.

Miami-Dade County
Nov. 15 – April 30
* No entry – Portions of the Biscayne Canal, Little River and Coral Gables Canal.
* Slow speed – Within portions of Meloy (or East) Channel and portions of the Intracoastal Waterway in Dumfoundling Bay and Biscayne Bay between Broad Causeway and Venetian Causeway.

Palm Beach County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* Motorboats prohibited – Within general vicinity of Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant discharge canals.
* Slow speed – Outside the main channel in the Loxahatchee River, and in the north and southwest forks of the Loxahatchee River.
* Idle speed and slow speed – Look for shore-to-shore speed zone changes north and south of Peanut Island near the Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant.
Oct. 1 – May 31
* 25 mph – Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel between State Road 706 and Lake Worth, and south of Lake Worth to Broward County.

Sarasota County
Nov. 15 – March 15
* No entry – Portion of Salt Creek and Warm Mineral Springs north of U.S. 41.

St. Lucie County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* Motorboats prohibited – Within Moore’s Creek. Nov. 15 – April 15
* Slow speed – Within Garfield Cut/Fish House Cove area.
Nov. 15 – April 30
* Slow speed – Within Intracoastal Waterway channel between North Beach Causeway south to Channel Marker 189 and within the Shark Cut Channel in the Fort Pierce Inlet area.

Volusia County
Sept. 1 – March 31
* 25 mph – Portions of the Tomoka River and Spruce Creek.
Oct. 15 – April 15
* Motorboats prohibited – Blue Spring Run.
* Slow speed – St. Johns River, south of Lake Beresford to Channel Marker 67.

Copies of complete individual county waterway rules for protection zones are available at www.flrules.org, or visit MyFWC.com/Manatee.