Environment

In South Florida, where the Everglades meet the bays, environmental challenges abound. Sea level rise threatens homes and real estate. Invasive species imperil native plants and animals. Pesticides reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, but at what cost? 

WLRN's award-winning environment reporting strives to capture the color and complexity of human interaction with one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet.

Joe Reilly / Graham campaign

Many South Floridians know the suave, summertime vibe of Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Margaritaville,’ which he wrote over 40 years ago on his way down to Key West.

But fewer  know about Buffett’s passion for environmental activism - especially for Florida’s ecosystem. His message to protect it reached over five thousand Parrotheads in the Hollywood ArtsPark Ampitheater Thursday night.

Scientists along Florida's Gulf Coast are working to battle an unusually intense red tide algae bloom, which has killed tons of wildlife, shut down businesses and kept tourists away from beaches this summer.

COURTESY OF THE BROWARD COUNTY SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION PROGRAM

Two sea turtles that were rehabilitated from illnesses are scheduled to be released Thursday morning in Juno Beach.

Tiffany is an adult female hawksbill and Seabastian is a juvenile loggerhead. Staff at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, where the turtles were treated, say they've recovered from infections and anemia.

It's a much-needed piece of good news for some of the oldest creatures on earth. Sea turtles have been around for more than 110 million years, but humans' impact on the environment is making it harder and harder for them to survive.

Alejandra Martinez

Caroline Lewis has made it her life mission to amplify conversations around climate change. She founded the CLEO Institute in Miami in 2010 and has focused her efforts on educating the public.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A 22-year-old employee of a floating museum off Key West has been cited with a second-degree misdemeanor in the shooting of an osprey with a pellet gun.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

State wildlife officers are investigating the shooting of an osprey Tuesday morning at a waterfront park in Key West.

Osreys - also known as fish hawks - are protected by the migratory bird act and are listed by the state as a species of special concern in Monroe County.

Executive Director of the Key West Wildlife Center Thomas Sweets said he got the call around 11:20 a.m. that there was an osprey with a broken wing that couldn't fly at Truman Waterfront.

This year hasn't been a good one for the Florida manatee.

According to state wildlife statistics, there have been more manatee deaths so far this year than all of last year.

Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what's out there.

Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it's thrown away, it doesn't just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces.

Federal documents show a University of Florida research unit killed more than 150 birds in the past 10 years to protect plant science work.

The five democratic candidates for governor are largely in agreement on what to do about Florida’s algae bloom crisis: redirect freshwater releases from lake O south through the Everglades to a reservoir, which is yet to be constructed, address the sources of nutrient pollution flowing into the lake, and eliminate the political influence of Florida’s sugar industry which has been linked to that nutrient pollution.


Marine life has all been wiped out in the waters surrounding Gasparilla Island. 

The inlet straddles Charlotte and Lee counties, but the residential part — including Boca Grande — falls entirely under Lee, which has hauled more than 2.8 million pounds of dead fish from its beaches and waterways in the first two weeks of August alone.

The City of Sarasota has declared a state of emergency over the toxic red tide bloom that began in November.

Todd Kerkering is the emergency manager for the city of Sarasota. He has lived there since the 1970s and said he doesn't remember ever hearing about an emergency declaration in Sarasota because of red tide. 

Force Blue

A new group is using what they learned in the military to fight threats to South Florida's coral reefs.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Edna House is parting her daughter’s hair into small neat triangle ponytails while the three-year old watches cartoons inside their apartment. The pair was abruptly moved into this unit a week ago.

House says she complained for more than a year to the management at the Stonybrook Apartments that her last apartment had a mold problem.

“They knew what was going on and yet they still did nothing,” she says. “I complain and complain and they saw me as like a nuisance.”

Cammy Clark / Monroe County

With lots of rain and high humidity over the summer, Big Pine Key has not seen a repeat of last spring's wildfire that consumed dozens of acres. And the state forest service is trying to keep it that way.

The fire last April consumed dozens of acres and destroyed one structure. It was fueled by the dead vegetation left behind by Hurricane Irma, which crossed the Lower Keys as a Category 4 hurricane in September of 2017.

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