Recent concerns over the large losses of sea grasses and increasing prop scars are causing concern for local fishermen and boaters who regularly visit the Mosquito Lagoon. While the lagoon typically sees a large decrease in sea grass during the summer months, the large amount currently building on the banks is troubling for some. Some are attributing the decrease in sea grasses to the “super bloom” or algae bloom that has lasted months longer than in previous years, while others are attributing it to the increase in inexperienced boaters who run their boats through these sea grasses, ripping them from their roots.
The Mosquito Lagoon is located east of Titusville and is in the northern part of the Indian River Lagoon system. Every year thousands of new boaters come out to fish in these waters due to it’s large population of Red Fish. While the area enjoys the influx of tourist, unfortunately many of these boaters are unprepared and do not understand how to fish in the lagoon’s shallow waters.
The Mosquito Lagoon is known for shallow or skinny water fishing (fishing in depths below 4 ft). Due to the low water depth, the slightest wind change can cause some areas of the lagoon to become unreachable even by kayak or through polling. These skinny waters also increase the likelihood that an inexperienced boater may create a prop scar when driving through the lagoon. A prop scar occurs when the boat prop cuts into the sea bed or into the sea grasses. The result leaves a scar in the sea bed and when it cuts into the grass, it takes years for that particular patch of grass to repopulate.
The loss in sea grass has an immediate effect on the lagoon. The grasses filter the lagoon water and are also used by the area species as prime breeding grounds. Many of the fish choose these grasses to attach their eggs which in-turn adds to the population of catchable fish.
Professors at the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida have become increasingly concerned about these issues and have begun recruiting area boaters to come and talk about their experiences on the lagoon. To aid in these efforts, UCF professors are looking for area Mosquito Lagoon boaters to come out and share their views in a one time ninety minute focus group. The purpose of these focus groups are to learn about individual boaters activities and beliefs about the natural habitats in the lagoon. The end goal of the campaign is develop an out-reach program aimed to increase environmentally-responsible boating and protect the marine species that reside inside the lagoon.
If you are interested in being a part of this project, please volunteer by contacting the project’s main researcher, Denise DeLorme at Denise.DeLorme@ucf.edu.