Hands Across the Lagoon, Sept. 28, and Ais on the Lagoon Community Paddle, Sept. 29
For Hometown News
TREASURE COAST -- Florida Oceanographic Society will celebrate National Estuaries Month by hosting two Indian River Lagoon events: Hands Across the Lagoon on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. and Ais on the Lagoon Community Paddle, Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8 a.m.
Hands Across the Lagoon events are occurring at causeways in five Indian River Lagoon counties Sept. 28 from 9 to 10 a.m. to celebrate National Estuaries Day, call attention to the declining condition of these estuaries, and ask leaders to make their health a top priority.
Freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee and devastating algae blooms are destroying the St. Lucie River Estuary and south Indian River Lagoon's sea grasses and oysters. Wildlife is under threat, with the unexplained deaths of many brown pelicans, manatees and dolphins in the northern lagoon.
"Hands Across the Lagoon is an excellent opportunity for the communities all along the Indian River Lagoon to show their support for healthy estuaries," said Mark Perry, executive director of Florida Oceanographic Society. "We'll need at least 880 people to span the length of our causeway, and currently, there are eight Hands Across the Lagoon locations from Stuart to New Smyrna Beach occurring simultaneously on National Estuaries Day. It will certainly be a historic show of support for the Indian River Lagoon."
The community is invited to gather at 9 a.m. and join hands atop the Stuart Causeway (south sidewalk) at 9:45 a.m. for 15 minutes to show they care about the lagoon and want to see it restored to a healthy condition.
Parking is available under the causeway and at Stuart Beach. Participants are encouraged to carpool, bike or walk.
Those who live outside of Martin County can locate Hands Across the Lagoon events in their area by visiting Facebook and searching "Indian River Lagoon News and Events," or call (321) 722-5363.
Ais on the Lagoon Community Paddle will take place on the last Sunday of Estuaries Month, Sept. 29. Kayak, canoe and paddleboard enthusiasts are invited to this free educational event.
Paddlers will gather for an 8 a.m. departure from the U.S. Sailing Center, 1955 N.E. Indian River Drive in Jensen Beach and paddle across the Indian River Lagoon to the shoreline of Florida Oceanographic Society's Coastal Center, approximately 2.5 miles. A breakfast of shellfish and sofkee will be served at the FOS Exploration Station pavilion, followed by a presentation by the Historical Society of Martin County.
The presentation will be given at the FOS Ais Encampment, one-quarter mile from the shoreline on the FOS nature trail. Particular emphasis of the historical presentation will be given to the Ais tribe and its presence and dependence on the Indian River Lagoon. Paddlers return to the launch site by 11 a.m. for a round-trip time of three hours.
"By connecting recreation with natural history and historical societies in an event, we'll demonstrate that recreational users are stewards of the environment, as were the early inhabitants," said Ellie Van Os, director of education and exhibits at Florida Oceanographic. "We hope to impart a message of sustainability by bringing awareness to the importance of the 156-mile long Indian River Lagoon to the survival of early Native Americans, particularly as a source of food."
Attendees are asked to bring their own kayak, canoe, or stand up paddleboard and RSVP at FloridaOcean.org.
For more information, visit FloridaOcean.org or call (772) 225-0505.