By Meagan Perle
For Hometown News
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Due to the recent environmental shift in the Indian River Lagoon, nearly all of the seagrass that grew between just north of Sebastian and the 17th Street Bridge in Vero Beach has disappeared.
Businesses along the lagoon are concerned that because of this depleting source, their customers might start to disappear as well.
Kristen Beck, director of the nonprofit organization The Florida Outdoor Center, said that although her business has not yet been affected by the almost nonexistent seagrass, it definitely will be.
"Eventually, the manatees are going to leave, the fish will leave and if they leave the dolphin will leave too," Ms. Beck said. "We'll have very little to show on our tours."
The Florida Outdoor Center gives educational tours, hosts a summer camp and shows people the wildlife along the lagoon.
The seven types of seagrass in the waterway serve as the foundation of the Indian River Lagoon's ecology. When it starts to deplete, the lagoon quickly begins to see a decrease in the amount of wildlife.
"Fishermen are probably going to feel the effects of this first," Ms. Beck said. "There won't be much for them to catch."
Overall, businesses along the lagoon and Vero Beach citizens agree that this has become a major issue and that it may be time for the government to step in and work with the scientists to restore the lagoon to what it once was.