ON THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, Fla. (AP) - Florida's Indian River Lagoon, which is actually three lagoons stretching 156 miles along the state's Atlantic Coast, is the nation's biggest barrier island complex and its most biodiverse waterway, according to federal officials.
Some facts about the lagoon:
- It is home to more than 2,000 plant species, 600 fish species and 300 bird species, according to the National Estuary Council.
- Fifty-three threatened or endangered species, including the West Indian manatee and the eastern indigo snake, make their home in the lagoon at some point in their lives.
- Since 2011, algal blooms have increased in the lagoon, along with fish and animal deaths. Two of these years have been termed "super blooms" because algae levels were historically high and fish kills numbered more than a million.
- The lagoon generates about $2.5 billion in economic output from tourism, boating, fishing and conservation efforts.
- In the past two decades, the value of the clams, oysters, crabs and shrimp fished from the lagoon has dropped from more than $20 million to $4.3 million.
Sources: East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council