Located near the East coast of Florida, USA, and part of the St. John's River system, the Indian river separates mainland Florida from its eastern barrier islands. The St. John's is noteworthy because unlike most major rivers in the US, it flows from South to North.
I grew up by the Indian river, and I remember when it was flourishing and whole. Submerged grasslands teemed with diverse life. Horseshoe crabs grazed in tide-pools alongside taunting (but delicious) blue crabs. Scuffing my feet along its bottom, (by my Dad's mandate; to avoid sting rays) I explored it from stem to stern in a state of perpetual awe. We tracked clams by their 'C' shaped tracks in the sand, and caught a myriad of fish. I discovered sea cucumbers which squirted water when disturbed, and vivid sea slugs which gurgled royal purple. Once I threw in a stone, and a powerful fish jumped from its wake to land onshore. It was a poisonous stone-like fish called a stargazer. A menacing barb protruded from its back to ooze biological weapons as it wriggled back into the water.
Today, this river is nearly barren. Gannet Inc, printer of "Florida Today", allegedly dumped tons of toxic waste into the river. The wildlife disappeared, and the stench of rotting seaweed could be smelled for miles inland. Decades later, the river is still almost dead.
Update (17 Dec 2004)
After 4 unusually destructive hurricane
s in one season, I was surprised to see a some life in the old girl. In the bit of shoreline I perused today, there was a rare patch of underwater grass and an eccentric pair of sting rays who kept nearly beaching themselves by wherever I chose to stand. The three possible causes I could think of:1) They were somehow domesticated and looking for a hand-out, or.. 2) They thought **I** was food, which is true, actually, especially when one is very hungry... or...3) They were enjoying some sweet-sweet stingray lovin'. (Which is my favorite possibility.)