October 25 – The Big O-No!

Today’s factismal: Lake Okeechobee is only nine feet deep on average!

When a lake is named “big water”, that’s what you expect – big water. And in one sense, Lake Okeechobee delivers. It is 36 miles long and 25 miles wide. But, despite being big enough to give a bath to all of Houston with room to spare, the lake is just nine feet deep on average and only 12 feet deep at the deepest part! And, as you might guess, that combination of wide and shallow makes for some interesting water chemistry.

The "Big Water" from space (Image courtesy NASA)

The “Big Water” from space
(Image courtesy NASA)

The lake gets its water from several rivers and runoff from the surrounding farms. As a result, it is both rich in sediment and in nutrients making it rich in growth, which is why bluegill bass and other sport fish are common there. But it is also rich in arsenic and pesticides (a legacy from early farms in the area), which is why eating the fish you catch there is a no-no. There are several efforts underway to clean up the lake and restore it to its pristine condition. If you’d like to take part, then why not join the Florida Lakewatch program?
http://lakewatch.ifas.ufl.edu/

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