Brad Ennis runs the airboat over the low-tide mudflats and between the barrier islands protecting the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. A fat raccoon traipses among clumps of cordgrass. Fog limits Gulf of Mexico visibility to 100 yards.
“It’s been worse,” Ennis says.
It’s supposed to lift by 10 a.m., three hours away. By then peak low tide will have come and gone and Ennis, with his band of University of Florida researchers, will have completed a morning’s work counting oysters on Lone Cabbage Reef....
..."We’re at a tipping point,” says Peter Frederick, a newly retired research professor at the university who cofounded the restoration project a decade ago with colleagues Bill Pine and Leslie Sturmer. “We have fished out not just the oysters, but their essential substrate that supports them too. We’re replenishing both now. Ultimately, the solution is to get more freshwater. But there are many competing demands for that water.”