mangrove flats

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Water quality isn’t a major concern for most people right now, but it’s something that should always stay in our minds.

With everything that has gone on this year, I’ll bet you haven’t been thinking too much about water quality. After all, there’s no big red tide bloom to worry about, so everything must be just fine — right?

One of the flaws of our culture (maybe even our species) is a short attention span. We tend to be easily diverted from crisis to crisis, looking at what’s right in front of us and losing sight of everything else. Fortunately, there are people whose job is keeping an eye on the things that everyone else has temporarily forgotten about — things like local water quality, which was at the top of our collective list just a couple years ago but is now somewhere near the bottom of page 14.

Well, if we can pay attention for just a little while, there’s a great no-cost opportunity coming up to see how our waters are doing. Check out what popped into my inbox:

The Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP) is excited to once again host the tri-annual Watershed Summit, a free virtual public event, on June 1 and 2. The summit will be held in four sessions that support the primary actions of the CHNEP as listed below. Presenters will include entities such as Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, South and Southwest Florida Water Management Districts, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

To register for the 2020 Watershed Summit or see a draft agenda, visit Registration is required in advance.

Monday, June 1

9 a.m. — 12:45 p.m.: Water Quality Improvement

1 – 4 p.m.: Hydrological Restoration

Tuesday, June 2

9 a.m. — 12:45 p.m.: Fish, Wildlife, & Habitat Protection

1 – 4 p.m.: Public Engagement for Protecting Our Water and Wildlife

The presentations are set to cover a wide variety of topics. In the first session, talks will include red tide, threats to the Peace River (which feeds Charlotte Harbor), filter marshes, seagrass trends, nutrient monitoring, and citizen science initiatives — and that’s all before lunch!

With so much ground to cover, this promises to be a fast-paced event. But since it’s all online this year, there’s no need to drive or even get dressed. And you can drink anything you like. You can even make a game of it: Every time someone says “nitrates,” take a shot! (On second thought, better not. You’ll be stumbling by 10 a.m.)

If you already have other plans for those days, no worries. After the symposium, all the presentations will be available on the website for you to peruse at your convenience. In fact, you can go right now and start looking through the seminars from the last event in 2017. I particularly enjoyed learning about sawfish.

Now, I know a lot of you get a little glazey when the big science words come out, and there will definitely be some of that. But if you can stay awake through those bits, I would say 85 percent of the talks will be accessible to the average layman who’s been paying some attention. I believe you’ll find it well worth your time to get a deeper understanding of what’s been going on in our waters while we were all debating social distancing and the benefits of hydroxychloroquine.

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@


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