Losing the Glades: Ghosts of the Bonefish

January 9, 2013

Losing the Glades
The Ghosts of the Bonefish

On visits to watery Biscayne National Park, I am reminded of the simple shock that one can still view signposts of the natural past despite a hundred years of pollution, the mangrove cutting and wetlands filling, and general disregard of elected officials for laws, regulations and lax enforcement.

On a quiet winter day in the shallows, while the light is low in the sky, it is still possible to find a baby manatee feeding at the shoreline, thrashing the bay bottom only five minutes from the boat ramp. At the right tide and time, close observers can still find dolphin and sharks, from small blacktip to massive bullsharks sunning in the shallows. There are heron, cormorants, and osprey. There are even a few bonefish left, though to see the solitary numbers is to be sadly reminded of the legions that once roamed the shallow water meadows like squadrons of grey ghosts, seeking out pockets of shrimp and crabs before disappearing to the safety of deeper water.

The Everglades ecosystem was once magnificent. At 19th century observer wrote that turtles were so plentiful, one could imagine walking on their backs from Miami to Key Biscayne. Among fishing guides during the time I knew these waters best, in the 1970′s, the southern part of Biscayne Bay was legendary for large bonefish. Who remembers, forty years later? Read the rest of this entry »

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