We are in a seasonal transition here in southwest Florida and the implications for fish and wildlife and water quality will bring change as well. As most everyone is aware, our coastal systems were heavily impacted this year. The damage resulted from historic and partly out of season rainfall driven by the el nino phenomena and a management system that could not cope with all the demands of it.

The abrupt change from too much runoff to not enough occurs almost every year and stalls the recovery of water bodies in the region, especially the estuarine systems that depend on the right mix of fresh and saltwater. Already it appears this year will be no exception due to the lack of rainfall. Some areas have not seen rain for over three weeks. The contrasting hydrology reeks havoc on the ecology of the estuaries and not only affects reproductive success of important sport and commercial fish species, but impacts their habitats, particularly seagrass, creating a potentially longer and more serious impediment to recovery.

The Caloosahatchee Waterkeeper program is stepping up its ability to monitor and communicate the events and conditions of our regional network of waters. Generous donations to the program are helping to recruit an army of Waterkeeper Rangers working in specific regions. The observations and monitoring results will be posted on our web site for public viewing and coordinated with the appropriate authorities.

The map below identifies the seven regions where Waterkeeper volunteers will monitor the water.

If you have a boat and would be interested in becoming a Ranger and working with the Waterkeeper program please send your contact information to: Riverwatch@caloosahatchee.org