Friday, May 18, 2012

Mosquito Lagoon

Right now we are sailing up the Intracoastal waterway between the mainland of Florida and the protective barrier islands.  We just left the Indian River Lagoon, and entered into the Mosquito lagoon, just north of the United States spaceport of Cape Canaveral.  Over the last two days we watched the massive complex slowly get ready for a launch of the first private spaceflight in it's history, run by Elon Musk's SpaceX company. 

The entrance to Mosquito Lagoon.  Many fisherman and birds come here to feast upon the abundant fish species that feed on the myriad insects that breed here.

Frances Tisdel at the helm, as we make our way up the Intra-coastal Waterway through Mosquito Lagoon.

Mira Dutschke gets ready to attach our bowline to the mooring buoy so we ride out an intense storm above the lagoon. 

Our New Zealand neighbors at a mooring in the Indian River Estuary, just before a big storm swept in.  This area of Florida has had a terrible drought, but now is experiencing intense storms with hail and massive rainfall.
The New York Times reports that the South African born Musk will be owner of the first ever private launch of a service flight to the International Space Station.  Its funny to look out across this well-preserved place and think of the massive derrick far in the distance that houses this groundbreaking inauguration of a new chapter of America's space flight.  72 hours before the flight the area all around us has become a high-security zone, and we are forbidden from leaving the intracoastal waterway channel to explore deeper into this insect infested wilderness, full of abundant wildlife and some of the best preserved coastline in this low-lying state.

Sailing up the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's East Coast before entering Mosquito Lagoon

The Indian River Lagoon/Mosquito River lagoon complexes are huge and make up 40% of Florida's entire east coast. Like areas further south, here the major danger for the moment from Climate Change seems to be increased runoff from larger storms that deposit large amount of sulphates and nitrogen based fertilizers into the lagoon. This "non-point source" pollution, as Charles Jacoby calls it, comes mostly from homes and farms. 

Already a small crew of the largest deer flies I have ever seen have joined our little expedition, and no doubt the mosquitoes are following them up with a vengance…I can almost hear their winey little voices crying out to us: "come baaaack! Cooooome baaaack! we are waiting for youuuuuuu!".  It has been a narrow escape perhaps, but then there is always tonight, when they may come for us in our bunks.

Mosquito Lagoon is a bird's paradise.  It is also an oyster's paradise, a mosquito's paradise and a rocketship paradise.  That such a breathtakingly beautiful place should so quickly move behind us is a tragedy, especially since we were supposed to meet up with Troy Rice and his team from the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program.  We had a great chat with him and project scientist Charles Jacoby in Vero Beach a few days ago when we came through there.  They invited us to join them in Mosquito lagoon yesterday morning where they were working to re-establish oyster beds. Sadly our sailing vessel the Lily Rose just could not get there in time, and our window of opportunity closed with Saturday's launch.

Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch from our Camera Kite.
The Lily Rose at anchor at Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch.
At a dock for the night in the central part of the Indian River Lagoon.

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