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On Wednesday, the Captiva Island Yacht Club hosted two staff members from the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation for a special environmental awareness presentation focusing on the ecology of Pine Island Sound and water quality.
SCCF research associate Mark Thompson.
Ed Stringer, chairman of the CIYC environmental awareness committee, began the presentation with a brief but timely introduction, during which he offered thanks and requested a moment of silence in honor of Veterans Day.
SCCF education director Kristie Anders was first to present.
Anders, who has lived on North Captiva for more than 16 years, gave attendees a fun - but educational - look at the ever-changing ecology Pine Island sound, as she told stories pertaining to everything from the science of the complex tidal systems to her own personal stories about navigating these coastal waters.
"If you can keep in mind that these dynamic waters, these inter-changing waters are the way that food gets moved around, the way that boats run aground. It's the way that fish learn to live and adapt and feed. The tides are absolutely essential components of how we live in PIne Island Sound," Anders said.
SCCF research associate Mark Thompson followed Anders' light-hearted look at Pine Island Sound with an informative update pertaining to the SCCF and Captiva Community Panel's Tourist Development Council-funded water quality assessment project.
Thompson informed attendees about the study that began in October 2008 and is now heading into its second year.
The first year goals of the project were to identify possible pollutants of concern in this area, to provide a baseline water quality assessment for the waters of Captiva and to identify areas of concern due to poor water quality.
"What we planned to do in the second year, if we found problems in the first year, to actually track those problems to their sources, which will take a lot of effort," Thompson said.
"We identified potential pollution sources on Captiva and northern Sanibel that might affect this area. It basically boiled down to waste water treatment plants, possible leaky sewer systems, golf courses and maybe some concentrations of septic tanks," Thompson said, noting that the main pollutants of concern are chlorophyll-a, a bacteria called Enterococci and color dissolved organic matter, or CDOM.
"Right now we're in the process of analyzing all of our data. We have 20 or more parameters that we're analyzing. We're looking at seasonal variations, the influence of rain fall and the influence of population fluctuation on the island," Thompson said.
"We have already started our source tracking activities and we've gotten a few new capabilities at the lab now. We have the ability to analyze large quantities of bacteria samples in a shorter amount of time [and] we're also able to track optical brighteners using the instruments we have. Optical brighteners are in detergents and detergents are discharged through septic tanks and sewer systems," Thompson said, noting that tracking optical brighteners is an effective way that better enables SCCF to identify potential pollution from sewers and septic tanks.
More information about the work SCCF does for promoting good water quality is available online at www.SCCF.org.