FGCU professor speaks about water at chamber luncheon
Dr. Greg Tolley, executive director and professor of Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences, was the guest speaker at the July 9 luncheon of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce held at the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa on Sanibel.
Tolley’s current research interests focus on the influence of freshwater inflow on estuarine ecosystems and aquatic resources. However, he spoke to chamber business members about the differences and similarities of blue-green algae and red tide, as well as the goal of the new FGCU Water School. While water is a broad term, the focus of the school is on water security or its impact on the health of humans and ecosystem, and economic and social development.
“I like to think about how they connect with one another,” Tolley said. “If we get the water right, we have a healthy ecosystem and a healthy us. If we have a healthy ecosystem and a healthy us, we have healthy businesses and a healthy society.”
He explained that the water has been different this year – receiving half of the rainfall to date compared to 2018, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing in pulses.
“Water makes all the difference in the world here – in terms of what nutrients are being delivered to the system and how fresh water flows impact the system,” Tolley said.
He explained that some of today’s local water issues were created because people were not thinking earlier in a systems manner or how something done today might have an impact a decade later.
“I want you to think about how all of these things are connected,” Tolley said.
He has been an active member of the community, having served on the boards of the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, as well as the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. Tolley currently serves on the board of directors for Fish Florida, the Florida Foundation for Responsible Angling.
“We appreciate Dr. Tolley speaking to our members on the critical topic of water,” chamber President John Lai said. “It’s important to understand the many impacts of poor water quality and how they are connected.”
The luncheon was sponsored by Captains for Clean Water.
The next one will be at held on Aug. 13 at 11:30 a.m. at the Captiva Island Yacht Club, at 15903 Captiva Dr., Captiva. Registration is required and can be done at sanibel-captiva.org or by calling the chamber at 239-472-1966.