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      Nature Report: Fresh Water Inflow

      Eventually, all the floodwater draining into the Rio Grande flows into the Lower Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico.

      The Lower Laguna Madre continues to receive the brunt of the floodwaters, and to date the International Boundary and Water Commission estimates that more than 39.4 billion gallons or in excess of 145,000 acre feet have flowed into the bay from the Arroyo Colorado and North Floodway.

      Normally, the Lower Laguna Madre is one of only a handful of hyper saline, or saltier than the sea, bays in the world. And the sea grasses and marine life have adapted to this extremely salty environment.

      Biologists and researchers from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the University of Texas at Pan American are studying the effects of this unprecedented freshwater inflow.

      Willy Cupit, Coastal Ecologist TPW, says, "Salinity is 0.6 and normally the salinity in this part of the Laguna would be between 25 and the lower 30 parts per thousand, and right here we have basically no salinity."

      Joe Kowalski, Research Associate UTPA, says, "It is such a profound effect. There are certainly some very low oxygen levels."

      Vastly lower salinity levels and reduced oxygen are thought to be responsible for the death of scores of Gulf toad fish that are primarily bottom dwellers, but game fish are more mobile and have not been impacted.

      Some sea grass beds, like this turtle grass, are stressed and dying, but it may be weeks before biologists will be able to determine any long-term effects.

      Cupit\ says, "The salinity can come back pretty quickly, what we are seeing now is this prolonged situation, and it is going to be a while before we know exactly what the resulting impact is."

      With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.