From its litter-ridden shores to its sewage-laden depths, the Biscayne Bay is on life support.
The bay has been impacted by a staggering amount of pollution and marine debris in recent years, as well as nutrient runoff and sewage leakage from several parts of Miami-Dade County.
This has led to a decrease in sargassum, or seagrass, a critical component to the bay’s ecosystem, which provides food and habitats for fish and other organisms while strengthening shoreline protection against storms. Some have coined the phrase “underwater dust bowl” as a result of seaweed die-off at the bottom.
The threat of losing the Biscayne Bay has been on the minds of students for quite some time. As the crown jewel of FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus, its aesthetics play a huge role in why students live and attend class there. Marine biology majors benefit immensely from studying in such a large, diverse biome, while others can enjoy kayaking or simply taking in the view of the water at sunset.
Fortunately, FIU is taking necessary precautions to ensure that the beautiful Biscayne Bay stays that way.
A briefing by FIU President Mark Rosenberg details the urgency with which the Bay must be saved, from its failing health to the efforts the University is making to fix that.
Rosenberg stresses that “we have no choice” but to face the reality of a failing Biscayne Bay. And he’s right – with the health of such a large body of water in critical condition, we have everything to lose if we don’t take action.
Seeing the beauty of our campus tainted by sewage and debris has emboldened us to do so, even if it’s just by picking up garbage near the shore. It’s a small step, but a step in the right direction nevertheless, and one that has been continuously reinforced by our University.
On Friday, September 20, the Biscayne Bay Campus hosted the 2019 Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit, which was held to initiate efforts to restore and maintain the bay’s health. At the summit, FIU established itself as a space for the community to conduct research and outreach for the bay. Breakout sessions at the summit included discussions on government policy, infrastructure and public works, education and outreach, and research and research needs. The FIU Institute for Water and Environment and the FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios also contributed to the summit.
Miami-Dade County is also doing its part with a nine-member Biscayne Bay Task Force and beach cleanups within the community. Some cleanups even incentivize high school and college students to take part in these events by offering community service hours.
Without a stable Biscayne Bay, we would lose one of the most important bodies of water in South Florida. Neglecting its deteriorating health would not only deprive us from a rich and necessary ecosystem, but from one of the things that makes Miami, Miami.
Taking immediate action is the only way we can save the bay, and we are glad our University has taken the first step to heal its crown jewel.