FIT Professor: America’s most diverse estuary “at risk” if oil reaches Florida’s East Coast

The Indian River Lagoon, “the most biologically diverse estuary in North America,” straddles 156 miles of Florida’s east coast, from Ponce Inlet in Volusia County, south to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County. – St. Johns River Water Management District

George Maul has been a professor of oceanography at Florida Tech since 1994 and is head of the school’s department of marine and environmental systems.

He has “tracked similar paths of other items and buoys that ‘entrained’ or pulled inside the Gulf Loop Current during his 25 years as a federal oceanographer in Miami.”

In the 1970s at the University of Miami he set loose drifters in the Gulf of Mexico that Maul said wound up off Brevard County. “All you have to do is go out to the beach and look at the Sargassum (seaweed),” Maul said.

Florida Today added, “Currents also have been shown to carry surface drifters past Brevard, only to swing back again near shore. The oil and tar could do a similar loop.”

Maul has seen buoys released in the Gulf wash up near or even enter St. Lucie Inlet on the Indian River Lagoon.

“So yes, the Indian River is going to be at risk if this material gets into our coastal waters,” Maul said.

Florida Today:

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