"To protect and restore the Florida coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."

Marine Discovery Center Hosts IRL Awareness Events This Month

Sep 5th, 2013 | Category: MDC News

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FLA., Sept. 5, 2013 – The Marine Discovery Center (MDC) hopes to draw public attention to the current water-quality issues and concerns of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) this month in two separate public events.

MDC will host an IRL Public Forum in New Smyrna Beach from 6-8:30 p.m., on Sept. 26. A panel of experts will address current challenges in the lagoon and resulting mortality issues for estuarine species.

The forum will be followed two days later by a “Hands Across the Lagoon” event, scheduled from 9-10 a.m., on Saturday, Sept. 28.

An IRL National Estuary Program initiative, “Hands Across the Lagoon” encourages citizens in all five counties along the IRL to link hands for 15 minutes as a show of support for protecting the lagoon. This event will be held simultaneously across eight causeways spanning the lagoon’s 156 miles.

“The Indian River Lagoon and our surrounding estuaries are changing before our eyes,” said Chad Truxall, managing director at the MDC. “This is our community, where we work, live and play and it’s the cradle of the ocean. We hope citizens will participate in these two events to show their support for North America’s most biologically diverse estuary.”

The forum on Sept. 26, will be held at the Brannon Center located at 105 South Riverside Drive in New Smyrna Beach. The event is open to the public at no charge.

A panel of speakers, including research specialists in sea grasses, algal blooms, oysters, marine mammals, as well as representatives from the commercial and recreational fishing industry, will present information and discuss the issues affecting the IRL. An open discussion with the public will follow the presentations.

Presenters scheduled for the IRL forum include: Dr. Florian Koch and Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Book University (N.Y.) on the presence of brown tide in the IRL; Lori Morris of St. Johns River Water Management District on seagrass loss; Dr. Linda Walters of the University of Central Florida on oyster beds and shellfish; Wendy Durden of Hubbs-SeaWorld and Blair Mase-Guthrie of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on deaths of manatees and dolphins; the Coastal Conservation Association on impacts of commercial and recreational fishing; and Troy Rice of the IRL National Estuary Program, on possible citizens’ action.

The “Hands Across the Lagoon” event on Saturday, Sept. 28, will take place on the South Causeway (SR 44). Participants will join hands across the South Causeway Bridge as a show of support for the health of North America’s most diverse estuary while paddlers will also link together across the lagoon under the bridge.

MDC hopes public support will demonstrate to municipal, state and national leaders community concern for the estuary.

Free parking for “Hands Across the Lagoon” will be available in New Smyrna Beach on Canal Street, Palmetto Street, Live Oak Street, the Brannon Center and at Callalisa Creek.