April 2020
Happy Earth Month - Let Life Bloom!
Spring has sprung right on schedule, entering the scene with the pink moon rising over the Indian River Lagoon earlier this month. The birds are nesting, the flowers are blooming, and the dolphins are frolicking, oblivious to the fact that our human world has changed dramatically. In the face of great uncertainty, nature provides a welcome relief.  

During this time of social distancing, I enjoy sitting outside under my oak tree watching the butterflies and other insects going about their busy lives. I have allowed the wildflowers in my yard to stay a little longer than I usually do to attract visitors. One of the most beautiful visitors to my yard is Florida’s state butterfly, the Zebra longwing.  It is a medium sized black and white striped butterfly with elongated wings that lays its eggs on a beautiful climbing plant called a passionflower. You can grow the passionflower along a fence or up a trellis in the shade or sun and enjoy flowers and butterflies all year.   

Like safe mooring in a storm, nature provides a stable anchor during times of turmoil. Get out and enjoy the breeze, the water, and the proliferation of life. The fish, the birds and the butterflies are still going about business as normal, providing a stable and serene backdrop in a rapidly changing world.  

-Dr. Leesa Souto
Executive Director
Zebra longwing and purple passionflower images by Jaret C. Daniels, University of Florida, downloaded from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/zebra_longwing.htm
One Estuary, Millions of Stories - #GivingTuesdayNow
Join us on Tuesday, May 5th, for a global day of unity and giving! On this #GivingTuesdayNow we want to bring into sharper focus those things for which we are grateful, including the multitude of ways in which our lives are enriched by the Indian River Lagoon. Tell us your story of gratitude for the Lagoon by clicking the button below, and help us highlight these stories on May 5th.
*manatee in the window
Join the MRC in some social distancing fun!
Like everyone, the MRC's staff is getting a little stir-crazy so we compiled a list of fun lagoon-friendly activities that are great for ages 1 to 100!

1. Create a sign with #Ispywithmylagooneye and take photos with Lagoon animals, plants, beautiful scenery, or even a fluffy friend in a window! Use the hashtag #Ispywithmylagooneye when you post to Facebook or Instagram and tag the MRC with #marineresourcescouncil

2. Start a garden with Florida native plants! The weather is great for starting a new garden and many nurseries are offering pickup options. Check out the Florida Native Plant Society to find native plants that are perfect for your location!

3. Try out an upcycling art project by turning unused items around your house into something useful! Here and here are some great suggestions to get you started.

4. Have a scavenger hunt looking for Lagoon plants and animals, like collecting fallen mangrove propagules (never pick from trees!) or finding bird tracks in the sand!

5. Make an Outdoor Adventure Jar! Every time someone mentions something they want to do outside, write it down on a piece of paper and add it to the jar. After the stay-at-home order is lifted, randomly select a suggestion from the jar and do the activity.

Get creative, have some fun, and practice social distancing!
Virtual Learning Programs at the MRC!
The MRC has adapted our classroom presentations into four fantastic mini programs for grades 3rd - 6th! These programs are completely FREE and align with Florida state standards. All you need to do is sign up!

Topics covered by our programs include:

  • Stormwater and the Indian River Lagoon
  • Food Chains and Food Webs
  • Mangrove Identification and Restoration
  • How you can help the Lagoon!

Please spread the word and share this link with any elementary school teachers you know! https://savetheirl.org/education/virtual-learning/
LagoonWatch - Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
After 18 years of being a LagoonWatch monitor, David Hixenbaugh's knot on his secchi disk finally failed! Mr. Hixenbaugh was not going to let go so easily and within 24 hours he had recovered the disk through some fearless searching!!

Secchi disks are used by LagoonWatch monitors to measure the turbidity (amount of suspended solids) in a body of water. The data collected can be used in water quality analysis and can indicate how much light can penetrate through the water column. If the water is short secchi depth, then it has a high turbidity, which indicates that it is not likely for light to reach the bottom. This can negatively affect seagrasses and therefore decrease the levels of oxygen in the water and availability of habitat for animals.

*As always, safety is our number one priority and we encourage our volunteers to participate within their abilities and comfort levels.
North Atlantic Right Whale Calving Season Update!
The 2020 right whale calving season came to a close on March 31st. Ten calves were born during the season, but one may have already succumbed to propeller injuries. Two mom/calf pairs were spotted in Brevard, as well as a suspected yearling. 

One of those mom/calf pairs, Catalog #3560, a 15-year-old female, and her first calf, spent most of January and February in northeast Florida in the primary calving area. On March 11, they popped up about 20 miles offshore of Pensacola Pass in the Florida Panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, we haven’t had a mother-calf right whale visit the Gulf since 2006 (to the best of our knowledge), though we had a young whale there in 2018! The whales were sighted between Pensacola Beach and Mexico Beach from March 11-15.

Later, they were spotted making their way south along Florida’s West Coast between Clearwater and Marco Bay on March 20-22, on the Gulf side of the Florida Keys on March 24-25, and in the Straits of Florida on March 26-27. March 27 was their last sighting until they were spotted off Cape Lookout Shoals in NC on April 6.
Right whale Catalog #3560 and calf sighted just off the coast of Flagler Beach on January 25, 2020. Catalog #3560 is 15 years old and this is her first calf.
Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken under NOAA permit 20556-01
MRC Flat Stanley
The MRC participated in the City of Melbourne’s Flat Stanley contest by making our own Flat Stanley! The Flat Stanley contest was made to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day that is coming up on Wednesday, April 22nd. Here is our Flat Stanely at the Ted Moorhead Lagoon House observing our lagoon animals, developing virtual programming, picking up trash on the beach, and using a reusable straw!

You can make your own Flat Stanley and take pictures of Flat Stanely doing some different earth-friendly activities during the month of April! Make sure to take these pictures in your home or yard and practice safe social distancing. For more information and ideas for activities, visit the City of Melbourne’s page here !

May Brown Bag Seminar:
All about Manatees with Save the Manatee Club
May 5th, 2020
12pm - 1pm
Join us for our first ever Virtual Brown Bag Lunch Seminar! This month's program will be "All about Manatees with Save the Manatee Club". This wonderful organization will cover manatee anatomy, diet, habitat, reproduction, and current status. The presentation will also take a closer look at some of the threats the Florida manatee faces, Save the Manatee Club's efforts, and what people can do to help!

The Brown Bag Seminar will be at the same time as always, from 12-1pm, but will be held through the virtual platform Zoom! To attend this webinar, you must pre-register as space is limited.

Though we will take some live questions through Zoom messaging, please email your questions to our Environmental Education Coordinator, Nicole Broquet, at nicole@mrcirl.org by May 4th.
Upcoming Events (To Be Announced)
More events may be added/removed as the COVID-19 situation develops.
May 5: Save the Manatee Club at 12pm to 1pm through Zoom
Visit us at www.SaveTheIRL.org