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Why the Gulf of Mexico is looking picture-perfect

The waters off the Southwest Florida coast these days are picture-perfect, just in time for people heading back to the beaches.

“The best time of year to get in the water and dive in Southwest Florida is this time,” said Capt. Bill D’Antuono, owner of Offshore Naples Fishing and Diving Charters.

“Every spring is usually when we have our best water quality,” said Daniel Andrews, executive director of Captains for Clean Water.

“It looks really good out here.”

Which begs the question: did the lack of activity on the beach play a role in the clearing of the water?

“It probably could be to a very minor extent,” said Dr. Barry Rosen, professor of the Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Rosen doesn’t pinpoint just one cause.

“It’s probably a combination of ocean water, what’s been stirred up, and it could be just this time of year where we’re in good shape.”

This time of year also means the dry season.

“There’s been very, very little to no rainfall, there’s nothing significant coming out of our watershed or out of Lake Okeechobee,” said Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy director at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

Those like D’Antuono who spend their days on the water point to the time of year, too.

“The water is really clear always this time of year.”

But they’re also looking ahead to what happens upstream.

“We’re now two years off of that really heavy discharge event and the water now is about as good as I’ve ever seen in my life,” Andrews said.

The Army Corps of Engineers resumed releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee Estuary on Saturday, saying recent rainfall has improved conditions throughout the system.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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