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Florida’s Gulf Coast

Sea level rise is accelerating in Florida, scientists warn

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Clay Henderson has lived on the same block along the Indian River in New Smyrna Beach for 34 years. Living in a storm-prone state like Florida, you expect to see a river top its bank on occasion, but only in the past two years has Henderson seen it happen on sunny days. He hears similar stories almost everywhere he travels in Florida. In dozens of locations along the state’s 1,350-mile coastline, sea level rise is no longer an esoteric discussion…

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Manatees flock to 72-degree springs to escape cold

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Like most sensible creatures, manatees – the sea cows that live in the waters around Florida – seek warmth when it’s cold. On Thursday morning, roughly 500 of the gentle, aquatic giants crowded into the Three Sisters Springs as temperatures along Florida’s Gulf Coast dipped below 50 degrees. “They’re basically chilling in the springs sleeping,” said Ivan Vincente, visitor services specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. “They’re spending the vast majority of…

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Thousands of birds abandon eggs, nests on Florida island

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The din created by thousands of nesting birds is usually the first thing you notice about Seahorse Key, a 150-acre mangrove-covered dune off Florida’s Gulf Coast. But in May, the key fell eerily quiet all at once. Thousands of little blue herons, roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets, pelicans and other chattering birds were gone. Nests sat empty in trees; eggs broken and scattered on the muddy ground. “It’s a dead zone now,” said Vic Doig, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service…

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