Cocoa Beach Evasive Species

Is Cocoa Beach a community where folks care about the environment? I wonder. As one drives into Cocoa Beach on SR-520, the roadside is lined with Brazilian Pepper and casuarina. These are invasive exotic species which choke out the native mangroves. The mangrove, as scientists will tell you, is the beginning of the estuary foodchain. The distinctive prop roots of the red mangroves provide a home for billions of creatures; the barnacles, truncates and other filtering creatures that remove crud from the water. When peppers and Casuarina replace mangroves the water gets dirty. The more peppers, the dirtier the water.

The peppers and Casuarina that line the entrance to our community send a powerful message to the world at large. “The people who live here are slobs who don’t care.” We say we want a clean Banana River; but our actions say we are fine with dirty water and dead fish.

 

The enlightenment philosopher Voltaire was concerned with the question of how can humans live together in peace and harmony. How can our species exist in harmony with a hostile humanity and an unforgiving world of nature. His answer was that “we must take care of our garden.”

It is time for us to stop talking and start acting. Every pepper tree we allow to grow replaces a red mangrove that can’t grow. The Casuarina that poison our shorelines are killing the black and white mangroves, the plants needed for clean water. We have not tended our garden for decades; it is overgrown with noxious weeds. So, as you drive down 520 and you see the peppers and Casuarina on the shore, remember what it tells the world: “Welcome to Cocoa Beach. Toss your trash out the window, we don’t care, why should you?”

Thomas Yardley, Resident of Cocoa Beach

1 Comment Leave a comment

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