The most diverse body of water in the U.S., the Indian River Lagoon that spans 40% of Florida's coastline, is collapsing. Over 600 species of fish and 300 species of birds call this lagoon home, but for the past few months, hundreds of manatees, dolphins, pelicans, and fish have been washing up dead on the lagoon shore.
Biologists are trying to find a cause for the "mass murder," but the different species all seem to have died in different ways. The dolphins and pelicans have washed up emaciated, while the manatees seem to have gotten an illness that caused them to drown. Still, scientists are sure that the incidents are related, and many suspect it has to do with water pollution.
Florida has a lot of farmland, which uses vast amounts of nutrients and pesticides. Because there are no state laws on how to get rid of those additives, they are washed into nearby waterways, which then take them down to the lagoon. Increasing levels of these nutrients unbalance water acidity and saline, making them catastrophic for entire ecosystems.
Republican Governor Rick Scott is not making the situation any better. He has refused to fund a study into the matter, slashed the budgets of environmental groups in the state, and replaced professionals in Florida's Department of Environmental Protection with people invested in the polluting industries.
Already, 111 manatees, 300 pelicans, and 50 dolphins have died. 47,000 acres of sea grass beds have been destroyed, too. Scientists are estimating that it will take a decade for the lagoon to recover. If Florida continues polluting as it is now, that day may never come.