The year 2012 brought many challenges for the Invasive Species Management (ISM) Branch to tackle. Multiple factors led to the highest levels of water hyacinth on Lake Okeechobee since 1986.
Water hyacinth invades lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes and other types of wetland habitats. According to the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System website, water hyacinth can reproduce and quickly form dense floating mats of vegetation, sometimes doubling in size over a two week period. These dense mats reduce light and deplete oxygen levels for submerged plants and aquatic invertebrates.