Target: Rick Scott, Governor of Florida
Goal: Protect Florida Everglades bottlenose dolphins from further mercury poisoning and reduce the levels of mercury already found in the dolphins.
Bottlenose dolphins (genus Tursiops) have long inhabited the coast of Florida and its Everglades. However, they have recently been dying off in droves, and a major reason for that is mercury poisoning.
As early as 2013, it was noticed that Florida’s bottlenoses were dying for mysterious reasons, with one scientist reporting then that, “This particular species has suffered a huge impact, all over the Southeast.”
The problem has only worsened in recent years, with reports from late 2016 stating that, according to Florida International University researchers, the Everglades’ dolphins have higher levels of mercury in their bodies than dolphins anywhere else in the world.
The mercury that ends up in the dolphins comes from various sources all over the world, and while Florida’s mangroves soak up a large amount of this toxic metal, it still manages to make its way into the bodies of aquatic mammals like the bottlenose, where it seriously damages their immune and reproductive systems.
Compounding this problem is agricultural waste runoff and dumping, which causes waste sulfur to mix with the mercury already in the water, forming methylmercury, a neurotoxic chemical.
The problem is difficult to deal with at the source, considering that mercury makes its way into the Everglades through toxin-laden rain clouds which roll across the ocean. However, there are methods know to help diminish mercury levels in the ecosystem, such as the addition of aluminium sulfate to aquatic environments, which causes mercury to precipitate out of water bodies; or granular activated carbon, which acts as a mercury filter.
These or other methods should be considered and deployed by Florida’s government in order to protect the Everglades and its bottlenose dolphins from further mercury poisoning.
Dear Governor Scott,
A study conducted by Florida International University researchers found that mercury concentrations in the Florida Everglades is exceedingly high, and may well be record high in the bodies of the Glades’ bottlenose dolphins. This mercury is in part responsible for numerous die-offs of Everglades bottlenoses over the last decade, and seriously damages these animals’ reproductive and immune systems.
Compounding this issue is agricultural waste dumping and runoff, which allow waste sulfur to combine with mercury to form methylmercury, a neurotoxin that endangers both the wildlife and people of Florida.
Though it is very difficult to get rid of mercury at the source, given that it usually arrives in the Everglades from rain clouds, there are real and affordable methods for precipitating mercury, or filtering it, out of the ecosystem. These methods should be explored and deployed by Florida in order to protect its wild places, including the Everglades and the dolphins that inhabit it.
In 2016, the Miami New Times reported that, “mercury was found in… alarming concentrations in the waters of the Everglades,” that the Everglades ecosystem “is now on life support,” and that, “The mercury might soon decimate the unique creatures that still make their homes in the area.” Given these statements, the time to act on behalf of the Everglades’ bottlenose dolphins and, indeed, the whole of the American Southeast, is now.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Wayne Hoggard