Mass Deaths Indicate Marine Ecosystem in Distress

The deaths of hundreds of pelicans, dolphins and manatees across Florida's Indian River estuary - 'one of the richest marine ecosystems in the continental United States' - have scientists concerned, and wondering if rapid urbanization is to blame.

"The cause [for the hundreds of pelican, dolphin and manatee deaths] continues to evade easy explanation," writes Michael Wines. "But a central question is whether the deaths are symptoms of something more ominous: the collapse of the natural balance that sustains the 156-mile estuary’s northern reaches."

“'We may have reached a tipping point,' said Troy Rice, who directs the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, a federal, state and local government partnership at the St. Johns River Water Management District."

"Mr. Rice’s fear, widely shared, is that an ecosystem that supports more than 4,300 species of wildlife — and commercial fisheries, tourism and other businesses generating nearly $4 billion annually — is buckling under the strain of decades of pollution generated by coastal Florida’s explosive development."

Full Story: Deaths of Manatees, Dolphins and Pelicans Point to Estuary at Risk

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