"Troubled Water: The Indian River Lagoon in Peril"

"A crisis grips the Indian River Lagoon. Record numbers of manatees, dolphins and pelicans died in the past year — often from mysterious maladies. Sea grass flats are decimated. Unprecedented algae blooms have formed."

"To the casual observer driving along the lagoon system, which stretches 156 miles between Volusia and Palm Beach counties, the estuary seems an ecological gem. But looks are deceiving.

Decades of ditching, draining and pollution left the lagoon system vulnerable and tipped toward catastrophe, experts say. Over the past three years, massive algae blooms have blocked light to the sea grasses, the foundation of the diverse ecosystem. More than 60 percent of its sea grasses — at least 47,000 acres — are gone. Scientists are looking into whether the algae blooms are a factor in the marine life deaths."

Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for the Daytona Beach News-Journal in part one of a five-part multimedia feature series December 20, 2013.

Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal, 12/20/2013