Earlier this spring as part of the PBDA Coral Project – and long before the coronavirus pandemic had us all social distancing – Palm Beach Day Academy’s Eighth and Ninth grade students had the opportunity to be an invested part of the Tarpon Cove Lake Worth Lagoon restoration project in West Palm Beach. The project was particularly meaningful for PBDA students and faculty as the lagoon is situated directly in the backyard of both PBDA’s Lower Campus and many of our families’ homes in the El Cid Historic District.
The Tarpon Cove Project is Born
Before beginning the project in February 2018, Palm Beach County had identified degraded water quality and habitat in a 15-acre historic dredge hole, caused by accumulated fine-grained muck sediment. The Tarpon Cove project was created to fill in the dredge hole and cap the muck sediment, thereby improving the water quality, increasing nursery areas, and improving the overall habitat for fisheries, benthic organisms, and wildlife. After several months spent filling the dredge hole, the project is in its final stage of creating habitats that include salt marshes, seagrasses, mangrove swamps, tidal flats, nesting bird rookeries, and oyster beds.
PBDA Joins the Efforts
On March 5, 2020, in partnership with MANG, a local company dedicated to worldwide coastal restoration, and Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which serves to protect public health and safety, the environment, and property values by overseeing remediation of petroleum contamination, students at PBDA set out to help with the final phase of the Tarpon Cove project.
That morning, students set off by boat to the newly created island from a public dock off of West Palm Beach’s South Flagler Drive. Through teamwork, determination and environmental stewardship, our students ultimately planted 900 1-gallon mangroves, 1,600 mangrove propagules, and 4,000 Spartina grass plugs in just one day.
Paying It Forward
As a result of the new habitats planted by our students, the islands and surrounding reefs will provide a natural structure to dissipate wave energy, protect our coasts, and reduce the ecological impacts from storms.
The Tarpon Cove in the Lake Worth Lagoon can be seen directly south of Palm Beach Day Academy’s Lower Campus and adjacent to West Palm Beach’s El Cid Historic neighborhood. Our students will continue to work with MANG and ERM to monitor the health of this restoration project for years to come.