Wildlife drinking water availability update 6/1/2018
SOKD did new field salinity sampling today on No Name and Big Pine Keys to document how the recent heavy rains affected the previous, long-term drought situation. The skies really opened up in May, 2018, with Marathon airport recording 9.7” of precipitation – almost 3 times the average! Some areas on BPK likely got an even larger amount, more than erasing a serious deficit that started back in December, 2017.
It thus comes as no surprise, and we are very happy to report, that there is finally ample natural drinking water for wildlife in the Keys. Specifically:
No Name Key: The “rain ponds and depressions” located primarily in the central part of the island (that were dry in March and April) are filled with water in the 2-4ppt salinity range. The solution hole ponds that were (with one exception) in the 14-19ppt range in early April tested today at 0.28 – 0.4ppt, i.e. super fresh water good for beast AND man!
Main island of Big Pine Key: There are plentiful very low salinity water sources throughout, most actually with lower salinities than the famous Blue Hole – which is at 5.3-5.4ppt (vs @13ppt in mid-April).
Long Beach Rd. area: This is the best news – having no natural palatable drinking water sources since at least January, and many of them being seriously hypersaline in the 45+ppt range – the natural ponds have flushed-out and have surface salinities in the 0.7 – 4.2ppt range. In the sandy sections of Long Beach, several depressions are holding wildlife-drinkable water, such as the one by the Barnacle B&B at 6ppt. Others are as low as 1ppt.
This water situation, coupled with the related surge in plant growth is great news for the Key deer. SOKD will continue to monitor salinities on a regular basis.
SOKD greatly appreciates the residents that provided fresh water for wildlife during the severe drought. Now it’s time to “kick the buckets” although gradually weaning off over a week or so may be the best approach since in some areas the wildlife may need time to find the newly available natural sources of drinking water.