Apalachicola Bay: The Nursery for the Gulf

Sunrise on Apalachicola Bay ©Lynne Buchanan
Apalachicola Bay is one of Florida's greatest treasures.  Over 90 percent of all creatures in the Gulf of Mexico spend time in this amazing, nutrient laden body of water. If we do not protect it, who knows what the consequences will be for the larger gulf ecosystem and far beyond.  Apalachicola Bay is an estuary, as is the Caloosahatchee where I was today.  All estuaries deserve to be protected.  The special mixture of saline and fresh water is essential for the flourishing of life.  If the balance is unnaturally altered and these bodies of water become either too salty or too inundated with fresh water, then sea grasses, fish, oysters, and other plants and animals die and this affects all life dependent on them including us.  

Illuminated Grasses, Apalachicola Bay ©Lynne Buchanan

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the grasses became illuminated and seemed to magically shimmer as the waters washed in and out of them in gentle waves.  The grasses parted and came together again, almost like they were lungs breathing life into the ecosystem they supported.  Birds began to fly in and out of the grasses, which were as inviting as spun gold.  

Lafayette Park Boardwalk ©Lynne Buchanan

The boardwalk at Lafayette Park is a beautiful place to watch the sunrise and from where the photos above were taken.  Many people get married in the gazebo here.  I understand why.  To unite beside such a glorious vantage point onto teaming life must be auspicious for any future union.  And yet, the famous Apalachicola Oysters are threatened to the point of becoming endangered.  They cannot survive without enough fresh water.

Shrimp Boats in the Evening Light

The shrimp boats run frequently and the industry is still thriving.  Yet the more we pollute our waters and allow our rivers to run dry, the more creatures are harmed and this has a huge economic impact.  People livelihoods depend on shrimping and catching oysters, and when their catches dwindle and even disappear our food source is also diminished.  Water and life can regenerate up to a certain point, but that point can be crossed and then extinction occurs and our rivers die.  

Last Light on the Marina ©Lynne Buchanan
As the last rays of light dipped below the horizon and darkness encroached, I felt as if these boats were singing a swan song.  I hate to think of them not bringing back boatfuls of healthy, delectable seafood.  I don't want to question whether the catch they do bring back is fit to eat.  What happens to our waterways affects us.  We ingest what enters the systems of the sea creatures we eat.    Besides the problem of low water levels, coal ash also makes its way down this river that some claim is the site of the original Garden of Eden.

Please say a prayer for our water, for the Apalachicola and other jewels that are being threatened by what happens upstream, or far away in other parts of the globe brought by water or air currents.  Nothing exists in a vacuum.  Everything is interrelated and it is frankly criminal to say that it doesn't matter what we do because China is creating the biggest environmental problems.  We need to act locally even as we think globally and start by cleaning up and protecting our own backyards, and where better to start than with the biggest nursery for the Gulf of Mexico?