Wildlife Drinking Water Availability Update 4/12/2021
We Got Rain!! After a great rain season in 2020, our dry season tightened its grip in the past few months: no significant rain since 2/23/2021 – more than 1.5 months without a drop. And it took a toll on natural wildlife fresh water availability: many spots on BPK and NNK dried-up or had their salinities rise to above animal palatability levels. But because of the previous good rain season (good news!) there continued to be more sample sites with palatable water on all major sampled islands since this project officially began 2 years ago, and likely since Hurricane Irma (with a few exceptions). But in many areas, getting a drink became extremely hard (e.g. on No Name Key site NNK2 where deer had to basically slurp-up water/mud) and even dangerous (e.g. NNK site 3 where there were still traces of a mid-sized gator in the very low water that’s was left.)
We will get rain data at the end of the month from the many rain gauges maintained by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control who generously gives SOKD access, but our own gauge on the Long Beach Peninsula at BPK recorded 1.02” of rain in the past 24 hours. The rain made a huge difference to water availability on the Peninsula: On 3/2/21 there were only 2 natural water sources in the wildlife drinking range. One dried out by 3/14/21, the other by the end of the month. As of today, they are both recharged with drinkable water. Based on measurements just collected this afternoon by one of our volunteers all over BPK, the recent rain also significantly improved water availability on that island.
We know from our previous data that a 2” downpour can recharge most water holes on NNK from just barely (the solution holes connected to the underground lens) and dry (for depressions not connected to the lens) to overflowing. We have not sampled NNK yet after this latest rain, but if it got anywhere near the volume as measured on Long Beach (it usually gets more), the wildlife there is in good shape as far as water is concerned.
We assume similar improvements occurred on other islands with Key deer, and will test there ASAP.