Through our institute's research, we’ve identified some of the factors leading to the degradation of Biscayne Bay water quality. In collaboration with our partners, we are implementing solutions to improve the resilience and sustainability of our beautiful bay.
2020: Responding to Crisis in the Bay
Over the past few decades, pollution, rising temperatures and seagrass die-offs have all contributed to the declining health of Biscayne Bay. In mid-August 2020, the bay experienced unprecedented levels of low oxygen, resulting in massive fish kills along the coast. Reports of gray-green algae in the water followed the fish kills.
Our researchers mobilized quickly, setting out on the water to collect water quality data that could give us a hint into what may be causing this devastating phenomenon. Our institute partnered with more than a dozen organizations, including Frost Science, Miami Waterkeeper and SeaKeepers, to respond to the emergency.
Together, we began aerating the water, a temporary measure to help oxygen levels to increase across the bay. Our algae experts identified the reported algae as nontoxic, but still advise against bathing in the water. Weeks after the first reports of thousands of dying fish, the bay appears to be catching a break. Water is clearing up and the oxygen levels are improving.
The fight for Biscayne Bay's health is far from over.
Our scientists will continue to respond and monitor the waterway's condition, striving for long-term solutions that will bring the bay back to the healthy, thriving place it once was.
WPLG Local 10 hosted a prime-time special on the crisis in Biscayne Bay, followed by a town hall with our researchers and WPLG's Louis Aguirre.
We held an expert panel on Aug. 22 to update the public on the response to the Biscayne Bay fish kills.
Easy Ways to Help Save Biscayne Bay
Eliminate or Reduce Fertilizer Use: Fertilizers run off into our waterways, contaminating Biscayne Bay with excess phosphorous and nitrogen. Try not to use fertilizer, or choose fertilizers with slow-release nitrogen and little to no phosphorus.
Plant Native: Plants that are naturally adapted to South Florida require little maintenance and less fertilizer, and they filter water as it goes into the ground. They help support native insects and animals that help with pest control. Try landscaping with plants like Bougainvillea or Rain Lily.
Pick Up Waste and Inspect Septic Tanks: Things like pet waste, yard clippings and single-use plastics are extremely hurtful to the health of the bay and the ocean. Pick up your pet’s waste and try composting your landscaping debris. Have your septic tanks inspected – the waste from these tanks pollutes the bay.
Read Product Labels: Choose detergents and household cleaners that are low in phosphates and nitrogen.
Capture Motor Oil: Dispose of motor oil and engine coolant properly by taking it to an appropriate disposal site. Don’t let oil run off onto your driveway or yard. Never dispose of oil in storm drains or in your sink.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Cut back on plastic consumption and reuse items when possible. Plastics and other nonrecyclable products often end up in our waterways, threatening marine life and our precious water resources.
Experts on Biscayne Bay
Professor; Director, Institute of Environment; Director/PI, CREST CAChE
Piero R. Gardinali
Professor; Director of the Freshwater Resources Division
Research Assistant Professor; Associate Director of Science, Sea Level [...]
James W. Fourqurean
Professor; Director of the Coastlines and Oceans Division
Kevin M. Boswell
Thomas A. Frankovich
Research Assistant Professor
Teaching Professor; Associate Chair, Department of Biological Sciences
Jennifer Schopf Rehage
Rolando Omar Santos Corujo
Ikechukwu "Ike" Onwuka
PhD Student, Earth and Environment
PhD Student, Earth and Environment
Support the Project
By supporting Biscayne Bay Health, you will join hands with the community in responding to the challenges these waters are facing. The project supports an annual summit to share valuable information on the impact of Biscayne Bay's overall health on the local ecosystem — the people, wildlife and waters around us.
Funds will directly support the protection and amelioration of Biscayne Bay through collaborative efforts. Questions? Please contact the Advancement team.