Paul Gray steeled himself as he took the stick of the airboat and fired up its blades.
“It’s going to be kind of sad because the lake has really been pounded,” he said, before aiming the boat’s stubby bow into the sediment-choked soul of Florida.
Nearly nine months ago, Hurricane Irma raked over Lake Okeechobee, churning up its nutrient-laden guts with 80-mph gusts and turning portions into a molasses-colored broth.
In the wellspring of Everglades life, wading birds still forage, alligators hunt, and scores of bass are caught by happy anglers. Ringed by cumulus clouds that boil up over sun-warmed land, fauna abounds under blue skies in Lake Okeechobee.
But it’s what Gray, a lake expert for Audubon Florida, didn’t see in a survey last week that has him concerned.
Where beds of water lilies once floated above fields of emerald eel grass, there is only murky water, too deep and dark for plants to thrive.
“Everyone is asking what happened to the lake, but what happened …” READ the full story at MyPalmBeachPost.com and find out what current lake levels mean about the future of discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.