The SFWMD is proud to be a sponsor and participant of the recently announced Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) Regional Workshop Grant awarded to the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society (SEERS) to discuss clams as a restoration tool for the Indian River Lagoon (IRL).
The Indian River Lagoon is an Estuary of National Significance located on the east coast of Florida and is bordered by six coastal counties: Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard and Volusia counties. This 156-mile-long shallow lagoon complex ranges from 0.4 to 5 miles in width and is home to more than 4,300 species, making it one of the most biodiverse estuaries in the northern hemisphere.
Historically, hard clams and oysters have been significant regulators of healthy water quality and economic stability in the IRL. Unfortunately, a variety of threats such as eutrophication (excess nutrients in a water body that can lead to algal blooms and oxygen depletion of the water), freshwater releases and algal blooms have drastically decreased bivalve abundance and filtering capacity.
Because oyster restoration has been utilized extensively throughout the IRL with variable success, other filter feeders such as clams have been widely overlooked as a restoration tool. Bivalves are highly dependent on local environmental conditions, underscoring a key need for more information surrounding specific restoration needs, obstacles and conditions in order to be successful in their restoration.
The knowledge gained from this bivalve workshop will inform management plans and decisions for ecosystem restoration projects in the Indian River Lagoon and other southern estuaries in the future.
The workshop will provide a forum for discussing clam restoration and research in the IRL. The objectives of the workshop are to:
- Provide a forum to disseminate current knowledge of clam research and restoration in the IRL
- Develop a list of research and management needs to enable widespread use of clams in IRL restoration activities
- Share results and discussions that can be used to inform policy
- Foster collaboration and discussions among participants
Along with SEERS and SFWMD, partners for this workshop include the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, the Florida Oceanographic Society, and Ducks Unlimited. Florida Oceanographic Society will be the local host. Details to follow, so stay tuned!