Shell Key off Tierra Verde is a nature preserve, bird sanctuary, and manatee feeding area. But over time sand from nearby beach renourishment has shifted and sealed the channel, and that could mean environmental trouble.
A close look at the situation reveals the peril. Gulf water is trapped in a large, elongated pool. It has no way in or out. As a result, the water could stagnate and could become toxic, which could kill the sea grass that manatees eat or worse. It could create algae blooms.
University of South Florida Marine Biologist Dr. John Paul says without a fresh water exchange, problems result.
“Some algae are toxic and some can cause fish kills, and these are all problems,” said Paul.
Paul explains algae use up all the oxygen and that leads to biological death. It renders sea water rancid, and that could have a greater area impact if it goes unchecked. Paul thinks the best strategy is dredging the channel to open it again.
“Who’s going to pay for that, but then that sand is going to end up where it wants, and that’s two truths,” said Paul.
According to the Paul, red tide doesn’t seem to be a possibility, but it could create other issues.
Pinellas County will soon begin analyzing the water quality and may reach out to the Army Corp of Engineers to open up the channel if the preserve begins to suffer ill effects.
View original article at: Shell Key could be in environmental stress