Northern Estuaries: Fair
In general, the Northern Estuaries (Caloosahatchee River Estuary, Loxahatchee River Estuary, and St. Lucie River Estuary) are in fair to good condition. Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) declined or remained stable at low densities in all regions. Oyster scores ranged from poor to good throughout the five years with mostly fair scores. A cycle of salinity perturbations negatively affected oysters, but when salinities were favorable the oysters rebounded. Benthic infauna were in good condition, while salinity and chlorophyll a were in good to fair condition. The Northern Estuaries are impacted by human control of flows that alter volume, distribution, circulation, and temporal patterns of freshwater inflows, and natural events like hurricanes, El Niño, and drought. These cause sub-optimal salinities that have negative impacts on SAV, oysters, and benthic infauna.