All posts by Rebecca

biophilia

Snakes, Eagles, & Gopher Tortoises at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center

Rebecca Wilkerson WFSU-TV

In the coming days, we refocus our attention to the coasts as we gear up for the world premiere of In the Grass, On the Reef: Oyster Doctors. This is the culmination of almost four years of collaboration with Dr. Randall Hughes and Dr. David Kimbro. Together, we have explored the salt marshes, oyster reefs, and seagrass beds that fuel Florida’s Forgotten Coast. Stay tuned for more information on the premiere event and opportunities to join us on coastal EcoAdventures.
Regena, one of the two American Bald Eagles housed at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center.

Regena, one of the two American Bald Eagles housed at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center.

For this video we take a step back from the coast and travel inland to visit one of Florida’s environmental education centers. The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center is named after Dr. E.O. Wilson for his work in conservation, preservation and restoration. Dr. Wilson contributed to the development of several new academic specialties in biology and paved the way for many global conservation efforts. He also coined the term “biophilia”, meaning  “love of all living things.”  His life’s work and achievements set the standard for the development of the center and its various education programs.

The Biophilia Center is surrounded by Longleaf Pine ecosystem and is ideal for educating students on the importance of biodiversity. The programs offered through the center are available to fourth and seventh grade classes. While the center focuses on serving students, teachers and professional audiences, it is not your average field trip:

  • Students visit the center for either a 2 or 4-day program. Educators from the Biophilia Center have written hundreds of pages of curriculum that meet state standards. The curriculum can be incorporated into their classroom activities before and after their visits.
  • Currently transitioning from a private foundation to a public foundation, the center relies heavily on donations, grants, and volunteers. This allows the center to host schools free of charge. Schools only pay for transportation and substitute instructors for their classrooms.
  • The Biophilia Center is now open to the public on the first Saturday of every month. Each public day includes a focused educational program and activities based around that theme.
  • Twice a year, the center hosts a Special Needs in Nature in nature event, and they accommodate the special needs of visitors during regular programs as well. With the center also being accessible for visitors in wheelchairs, the educators hope to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the facility and learn more about the world around them.

The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center provides an opportunity for fun, hands-on learning about the natural world and the animals within. The educators also teach visitors how to interact with the natural world and appreciate all ecosystems, shaping visitors into budding naturalists.

Visiting schoolchildren handle an eastern indigo snake with "Turtle" Bob Walker.

Visiting schoolchildren handle an eastern indigo snake with “Turtle” Bob Walker.

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SciGirls Tallahassee (and Rebecca) Cope with Marsh Mud

Episode 3: Studying Nature Involves Visiting and Standing in Nature

In a couple of weeks we’ll dive right in and look at oyster reefs and their surprising value. In the weeks following, we’ll do the same with salt marshes, seagrass beds, and with the unique diversity of Bay Mouth Bar.  Right now, we hope you enjoy watching the WFSU/ Mag Lab SciGirls get their footing in the intertidal zone.
Rebecca Wilkerson WFSU-TV

SciGirls' mudy feetThe first question I was asked when I became involved in the In the Grass, On the Reef project was if I was afraid to go out in the field and get a little dirty. “Of course not!” was my response. I have always been a fan of the outdoors and love scalloping and kayaking, so of course I would love this. I guess I was expecting to be in the water more than anything. After all, we couldn’t really be going out into anything too messy, right?

The first few shoots I went on were great and went about how I expected they would. But after a few weeks we went to Wakulla Beach, where I discovered exactly why I was asked that particular question when I was hired. Not fully prepared for my experience that day, I had quite a time trying to walk through the mud without getting sucked in knee-deep and losing my shoes, causing others to slow down and get stuck as well while they were trying to help me out. After clawing my way out and finally escaping the mud, I walked on an oyster reef for the first time. While the mud was not nearly as bad at this point, I am a terribly clumsy person. Luckily, I was able to keep my footing and avoid falling on top of oyster shells.

Although it was exhausting, I still enjoyed my Wakulla Beach experience, as I’ve come to call it. It was definitely a learning experience for me and I loved being able to see the sunset over the reefs. I have yet to master the “quick, light steps” needed to defeat the mud, but I definitely have an appreciation for what our scientists, and many others, go through to set up experiments and collect their data. I also love that getting out in the water (and mud) are a part of my job, not to mention that we get to see some really cool things. Every shoot is a new experience and I notice more about the environment and the animals each time I go out.

And Also, the Animal Experience

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

Animals with claws suited to tearing through oyster shell can, unsurprisingly, injure you.

One thing we didn’t mention in the video above or in Rebecca’s post are the animals at the sites, which you definitely have to keep an eye out for.  Members of the Hughes and Kimbro labs have been pinched by blue crabs and have encountered the occasional snake in the marsh.  There are small sharks, the possibility of alligators, and the sting rays that we see and shuffle our feet to avoid stepping on and startling.  You keep an eye out for those knowing that they’re a potential danger, though not a pressing threat.  During last week’s shoots in Saint Augustine, however, events in the news had us paying serious attention to the smallest animals that are also the ones that attack us most relentlessly.  Our country is in the midst of perhaps its worst ever outbreak of West Nile virus.  Mosquitos are a fact of the coast.  During the day, there is usually enough of a breeze to keep them off you; but since the work we follow is tidally based, activities can occur before sunrise or after sunset, when mosquitos are at their worst.  Alligators may look scarier, but it pays to know what the most pressing threat is.

Listen to last Thursday’s Talk of the Nation on preventing West Nile.

Music in the video by grapes.  In the Grass, On the Reef theme music by Lydell Rawls.

In the Grass, On the Reef is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Coastal Roundup August 17th – August 24th, 2012

Rebecca Wilkerson WFSU-TV

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance Volunteer Opportunities
August 20th-August 23rd
Fort Walton Beach, FL
(850) 833-9927
For more information visit this Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance volunteer call.

Treasure Hunt Scallop Drop
Bay scallop in St. Joe Bay seagrass bedAugust 17th-September 10th
St. Joseph Bay, FL
(850) 229-7800

16th Annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament

August 25th
Mexico Beach, FL
For more information visit the MBARA tournament page.

“Sopchoppy Stop” Eco-Heritage Tour
P1000534August 25th
Sopchoppy, FL
(850) 926-3376
For more information visit the Sopchoppy Stop tour page.

Riverkeeper’s 4th Saturday Paddle
Apalachicola River at Bloody BluffAugust 25th
Apalachicola River, FL
(850) 653-8936
For more information visit the Apalachicola Riverkeeper site.

License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day
September 1st
Gulf of Mexico
For more information visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page.

 

Lionfish

Lionfish 3For the next year, harvesting lionfish will no longer require a fishing license when using certain gear. The recreational and commercial bag limits have also been removed. These changes are effective through August 2013. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hopeful that the changes will increase harvest opportunities of this nonnative invasive species in the Gulf of Mexico.  For more information on lionfish and the new harvest regulations view this FWC news release.

Lucky for us, these invasive lionfish are delicious. Give these Hot Lionfish Poppers a try after a long day of harvesting.

Crab Trap Closures

Derelict crab trap 3Blue crab trap closures began last week for Florida. These two 10-day trap closures give the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost or abandoned traps that could become a problem for the marine environment. The scheduled closures vary by region. For more information on  the closures or the trap-retrieval program visit this FWC news release.

 Inspiring Adventures

Author Peter Heller sat down with Fresh Air host Terry Gross for an interview about his debut novel, The Dog Stars. An expedition kayaker, Heller explains how he draws inspiration through his often-dangerous adventures and how he relates his experiences to those of his characters. To learn more about Heller’s new novel and his paddling journeys, listen to the full interview on the NPR Books blog.

Safe Sun

Scientists from the University of Strathclyde are looking to put an end to outdoor clock-watching and blistered skin. They’ve created an ultraviolet-ray-detecting wristband that will give a visual warning that you’ve been in the sun long enough, using an acid detecting trigger that will turn the band from yellow to pink. Partners in the project are hopeful that the wristband will be available in spring 2013. Read more about the wristband, and the technology behind it, here.

On WFSU-TV

This Wednesday on WFSU-TV’s dimensions, viewers will be taken to various state parks in our viewing area. This one-tank-adventure will also bring us to Grayton Beach, near where producer Rob Diaz de Villegas shot a previous dimensions segment on the 2008 Back to Nature Festival.

In the Grass, On the Reef is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

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Coastal Roundup August 10th – August 17th, 2012

Rebecca Wilkerson WFSU-TV

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance Volunteer Day – Oyster Reef Bagging
Oyster reefAugust 17th
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
(850) 200-4173
For more information and a list of volunteer opportunities visit the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance volunteer page.

Treasure Hunt Scallop Drop
Bay scallop in St. Joe Bay seagrass bedAugust 17th- September 10th
St. Joseph Bay, FL
(850) 229-7800

16th Annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament
August 25th
Mexico Beach, FL
For more information visit the MBARA tournament page.

“Sopchoppy Stop” Eco-Heritage Tour
P1000534August 25th
Sopchoppy, FL
(850) 926-3376
For more information visit the Sopchoppy Stop tour page.

In the Kitchen

This week will mark the 100th birthday of Julia Child on August 15th. In celebration of the cooking legend, Marc Matsumoto uses Child’s Bouillabaisse to set the framework for a simple Seafood Stew using local ingredients. Learn more about his technique on the PBS Food Blog.

While we’re on the subject of local ingredients, check out how Gulf shrimp from Franklin County is used in this Buffalo Shrimp recipe.

On the East Coast

Near Dr. Hughes and Dr. Kimbro’s  St. Augustine research sites is the Fort Matanzas National monument. This National Park includes beach habitat that is crucial to several iconic Florida species. The National Park Service 2012 management plan has been drafted and some of the changes pose a risk to the wildlife here. The National Park Service will be hearing public input on the draft until August 24th. Visit this Audubon Florida news release for more information.

Clean Water Act

October will mark the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. It is important to understand the importance of this piece of legislation, and to remember that there is still work that needs to be done. Visit this National Geographic News Watch article to read more about the Clean Water Act and its past, present, and future.

Apalachicola River

Apalachicola River at Bloody BluffOctober is also when the 2012 RiverTrek paddle is happening. This five-day  journey along the Apalachicola River helps raise awareness of the plight of the river system. RiverTrek also raises money for the Apalachicola Riverkeeper. For more information about RiverTrek , check out Doug Alderson’s Visit Tallahassee blog.

Summer Reading

If your summer reading was taken up by technical manuals, historical tales, or academic studies, you’re not alone. Although these aren’t the typical “beach books” we associate with summer lounging, many people use vacation time to catch up on the reading they’ve pushed aside throughout the year. Read more about which books are being packed for vacations on the NPR Books Blog.

In the Grass, On the Reef is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

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Coastal Roundup August 3rd – August 11th, 2012

We are just a couple of weeks away from our first new In the Grass, On the Reef videos.  This summer, mud crabs and stone crabs seem unusually abundant and are out on the reefs eating and giving us shots like we hadn’t had before.  Dolphins are liking to pass by when we shoot in Alligator Harbor, and Bay Mouth Bar is crawling with large horse conchs and other snails eating each other.  And just this week, we made it to Wakulla Beach for the first time, where the marshes are overstuffed with fiddler crabs and periwinkle snails.  And while it’s been a great summer for wildlife footage, we’ve also been hitting up seafood markets and restaurants and are starting to get up with more people who have a stake in our coastal ecosystems, where the land meets the sea.

Rebecca Wilkerson WFSU-TV

Oyster Appreciation

Alligator Harbor oyster reefAugust 5th is a day that is near and dear to our hearts, National Oyster Day. To add a feast to your celebration, put a twist on a traditional oyster dish by trying this Rockin’ Oyster Rockefeller recipe.

For those interested in getting more involved with oysters, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance will be holding an oyster reef bagging volunteer day on August 17th. Groups should register prior to that day if they plan on attending. Visit the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance site for more information on volunteer opportunities.

Recreational Fishing

A few of the saltwater species that are currently in season include Bay Scallops, Greater Amberjack,  and Grouper. To view a complete list of species that are in season or for more information on regulations, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on recreational saltwater fishing.

Helping out coastal critters

In addition to the Crawfordville location, Tallahassee’s LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts is now a drop-off center for donations to the Florida Wild Mammal Association. For more information, including a list of non-perishable items that are needed, visit the Florida Wild Mammal Association website. (Photo copyright Florida Wild Mammal Association)

The Franklin County humane Society will be hosting the 15th Annual St. George Island Sizzler on August 11th. There will be a one mile fun run, a 5k race, plenty of food and a post-race party in the center of the island. Visit the St. George Island Sizzler site for more information. (Photo copyright St. George Island Sizzler)

Seagrass Wrack

seagrass wrack in cordgrassWrack, a phenomenon we’ve covered on this site before, is the dark green or brown grasses on the beach and is often mistaken for dried, dying seaweed. It is very much alive and is very important to the ecosystem. A few of the services wrack provides include bringing various organisms to the beach, feeding the birds, and aiding in the formation of sand dunes. Visit this Florida Fish and Wildlife article to find out more about the importance of wrack.

Silver Spring

Already compromised, Silver Springs is now the subject in a proposal that could bring greater harm to the once-magical Florida icon.  Visit this Audubon Florida opinion piece for more information about the current controversy surrounding the spring. To read about the changes that have already taken place in the Silver Springs water visit this Ocala opinion article.  (Photo copyright Audubon Florida)

Designer Shells for Hermit Crabs

Hermit crab in crown conch shell, next to crown conchsIn this area we’re used to seeing hermit crabs in lightning whelk and crown conch shells, like in the photo to the left. But now Robert DuGrenier, who has been blowing glass for over 30 years, is creating and selling custom glass shells for hermit crabs of all ages and sizes. Each shell is uniquely sculpted and can be colored or fused with precious metals for further customization. Learn more and check out some of the designs here.

Invasive Species

Nonnative LionfishAlthough lionfish are not native to the Gulf of Mexico, arriving around two years ago, the species has reached threateningly high numbers. With no natural predators, lionfish are taking over Florida’s reefs and eating juvenile fish. The invasive species could lead to a larger problem for the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem. Diving groups and hunting programs are being established in order to control the species. Listen to this WFSU-FM story for more information. (Photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation)

Creating new habitats

The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association’s Memorial Reef Program lets loved one’s leave an underwater legacy that will last for hundreds of years. The reefs allow families to construct, personalize, and name a reef for their loved one, adding additions later if they wish. The reefs are an ecological way to do a cremation burial and create a permanent and sustainable ecosystem for marine life. For more information, visit the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association’s page on the Memorial Reef Program. Visit this article from The Star to read about personal experiences with the program.

In the Grass, On the Reef is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

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Coastal Roundup July 27th – August 3rd, 2012

Rebecca Wilkerson & Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

Fish, lobsters, and scallops, oh my!

Greater Amberjack CatchGreater Amberjack Season opens August 1st. For more information including tips, limits and requirements visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on recreational amberjack season. (Photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Florida spiny lobsterAlthough the special two-day Spiny Lobster Sport Season has passed, the recreational Spiny Lobster Season opens on August 6th and will remain open through the end of March 2013. For more information, including restrictions and license requirements, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on spiny lobster. Also, this Florida Fish and Wildlife article has a few great tips on making the most of your lobster chasing. (Photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Anglers, FWC is looking for your opinions.  Members will be asked to complete one web-based survey per month for the Florida Saltwater Fishing Panel.  The surveys will take 10-15 minutes to complete and will be taken into consideration as a part of management and policy decisions. New members will be accepted throughout the duration of the panel’s operation. To find out more visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on the panel.

The C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle will host the 9th Annual Kingfish Shootout August 4th and 5th, with a captain’s meeting on the evening of the 3rd. All participants must be registered prior to the tournament. Cash prizes will be awarded at the end of Sunday’s events. Visit the C-Quarters Marina site for more information or to register online.  (Photo copyright C-Quarters Marina)

Bay Scallop Season will remain open until September 25th. For more information on licensing and catch limits, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on scallop season.

scallopThose of you enjoying scallops out of St. Joe Bay this season, come out and celebrate!  The 16th Annual Florida Scallop & Music Festival will take place August 3rd and 4th along St. Joseph Bay. This year’s festival includes live music, a classic car show, the kid zone, and, of course, seafood. Naturally, scallops will be prepared and sold in almost any way desired, and you can take home some frozen scallops. Visit the Florida Scallop & Music Festival site to find out more.

While we’re celebrating bivalves, let’s take a moment to recognize the one that’s nearest and dearest to our hearts on In the Grass, On the Reef.  August 5th is National Oyster Day. You might consider this quick and hearty Oyster Stew Supreme recipe as part of your celebration.

FSU Coastal & Marine Lab news

Construction on a new FSUCML research vessel began in early January 2012.  The custom design is tailored for coastal and offshore research in the Gulf of Mexico. The new vessel will have more space and stability than the previous vessel, and will also allow easy adaptation for the specific needs of individual research projects. Visit the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab site to follow the construction progress. (Photo copyright FSU Coastal and Marine Lab)

Corine Samaras is an undergraduate student in the certificate program at the Florida State University. She will be working with Deep-C Consortium on an experiment to study how crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill decomposes in Gulf of Mexico sediments. You can follow her experiment through her blog on the Deep-C Consortium site.

RESTORE Act

After two years, a deal has been reached concerning potential fine money that BP will pay for its role in the 2010 oil spill. Under the RESTORE Act, 80% of the money levied will go to the Gulf Coast states-Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, with up to 21 billion dollars flooding into Florida’s panhandle counties.  As this Tallahassee Democrat blog post points out, this money could be a boon to our area.  Florida’s money will be distributed by the Governor’s office.  The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that officials from panhandle counties are wary of how the state will decide to divide the money.

Florida Regulators Request Standard for Mercury Levels in Fish

Mercury contamination in fish is a global problem. Florida environmental regulators are looking to set standards for the maximum amount of mercury allowed in the state’s fish to make them safer to eat. Studies show that human activity is responsible for two-thirds of the mercury contamination in Florida. Environmental officials are holding public meetings and will continue to to take public input on the issue until August 27th. They will then publish a mercury-level recommendation for approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you missed it, listen to this WFSU-FM story for more information.

In the Grass, On the Reef is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

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Coastal Roundup July 20th – July 27th, 2012

Welcome to the Coastal Roundup. Every Friday, we’ll post a combination of local events and links to interesting articles relating to coastal ecology, fishing/ seafood, and tourism- basically everything relating to the ecosystems we cover (salt marsh, oyster reef, and seagrass bed).  Leave a comment below if you’d like us to include your upcoming events.

Rebecca Wilkerson WFSU-TV

Gulf Coast: Preparing for Extreme Weather Forum

Now that we are in the midst of hurricane season it is important to make sure that Gulf coast communities are safe during extreme weather conditions. The Gulf Coast Forum of the Risk Mitigation Leadership Series will take place July 24th – 25th in New Orleans. Read the Gulf Coast Forum agenda for more information.

Alligator Harbor oyster reefThe Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College will be holding another volunteer day for those interested in helping to build oyster reefs. Volunteers will meet on July 27th at the College’s South Walton Center. Visit the Choctawhatchee Alliance event page to learn more about volunteering opportunities.

Audubon of Florida is also in need of volunteers. Shorebird stewards are needed to locate and monitor nests around the Panhandle Coast. There will be opportunities for trained and untrained stewards. View the Florida Wild Mammal Association Facebook post on the Shorebird Steward Program or visit the National Audubon Society site for more information.

Mexico Beach Marina’s 8th Annual Offshore Classic

This two-day offshore fishing tournament will take place July 27th – 28th and will be divided into three categories: King Mackerel, Wahoo and Dolphin. Cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the tournament. All competitors must register at Mexico Beach Marina or through an online entry form. Visit the 8th Annual Mexico Beach Offshore Classic page for more information.

Spiny Lobster Sport Season

Florida spiny lobsterThe special two-day Spiny Lobster Sport Season will be open July 25th-26th. The regular Spiny Lobster recreational season will open on August 6th. For more information on license requirements and possession limits visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on spiny lobster seasons. (Photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

scallopBay Scallop Season will remain open until September 25th. For more information on licensing and catch limits, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on scallop season. To read more about the Florida scalloping experience, from planning your trip to preparing your catch for dinner, check out this blog post from Authentic Florida about the sport of scalloping.

It is always important to know which species are currently in season when planning a fishing trip. You can view the 2012 Recreational Seasons Chart for the Gulf of Mexico to see which seasons are open every month. You can click on each species for more specific information on its season.

As we quickly approach August, Grouper is among the species that will remain in season. August 15th will also mark the 100th birthday of cooking legend, Julia Child. Watch her prepare Salmon and Grouper (chapter two of the video) with Patrick Clark during the Julia Child: Cooking With Master Chefs series.

Watch Salmon and Grouper with Patrick Clark on PBS. See more from Julia Child: Cooking With Master Chefs.

All waterfowl hunters 16 years and older are required to buy and carry current Federal Duck Stamps. Others buy the stamp as a conservation investment. Ninety-eight cents of every dollar used to purchase these stamps are put towards buying wetlands. You can see in the video from our trip to the St. Marks Refuge that healthy wetlands, such as salt marshes, give migrating birds a place to stay during their journey north. Duck stamp sales since 1934 have raised more than $750 million to protect more than 5.3 million acres of wetlands in the United States.  You can also bring the stamps to National Wildlife Refuges to get free admission. In  our area, this includes the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. For more information visit the Duck Stamp site or the National Wildlife Refuge System page on Federal Duck Stamps.

Expedition Florida 500

Next year is Florida’s 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s first contact with Florida. In celebration various groups are coming together to take on a year-long, modern-day exploration of Florida’s coastline, waterways, and aquatic ecosystem as experienced by the waterman. The primary focus of the journey is to show the importance of stewardship efforts related to the ocean, coastlines, and the marine ecosystem. The paddling team will be looking for volunteers in various locations throughout their adventure. The XF500 team will blog daily, posting videos and photos, while filming a documentary. To follow the expedition visit the Expedition Florida 500 Facebook page or the Mother Ocean XF500 site.

Angle to Key West

On June 11th, Daniel Alvarez set out on a 4,000 mile kayaking trip. Starting his trip at the Northwest Angle of Minnesota and paddling until he reaches Key West, Florida, Daniel is working towards a healthy Gulf. With a few helping hands, he is using his journey to show viewers the beauty and tragedies of the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to raise awareness and put forth a call to action. Visit the Gulf Restoration Network to read more about Daniel’s trip. For a day-to-day account of his adventures, visit his blog, Predictably Lost.

Even if your adventures aren’t as large-scale as a 4,000 mile kayaking trip, it’s very important to stay cool and safe during outdoor summer activities. Listen to this Science Friday podcast (if you missed it last week on WFSU-FM) for tips on staying cool in the summer heat.

In the Grass, On the Reef is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation


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Coastal Roundup July 13th – July 20th, 2012

Welcome to the Coastal Roundup. Every Friday, we’ll post a combination of local events and links to interesting articles relating to coastal ecology, fishing/ seafood, and tourism- basically everything relating to the ecosystems we cover (salt marsh, oyster reef, and seagrass bed).  Leave a comment below if you’d like us to include your upcoming events.

Rebecca Wilkerson WFSU-TV

Saltwater Fishing

Red snapperThis is the last weekend of the extended Red Snapper Season in the Gulf of  Mexico. The last day of harvest will be Monday, July 16th. For more information, including size and harvest limits, read the full Florida Fish and Wildlife update on Red Snapper Season. (photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Cap off the season with a deliciously simple, restaurant-worthy dinner. Try Pan Seared Red Snapper with rice pilaf or fresh green beans.

scallopAlthough Red Snapper season will be closing this week, Bay Scallop Season will remain open until September 25th. For more information on licensing and catch limits, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on scallop season.

“Sopchoppy Stop” Eco-Heritage Tour

P1000534 This tour will take place on July 14, beginning with a stroll through historical Sopchoppy and continuing via guided cruise along the Sopchoppy River. Learn more about the tour here.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College will be holding a volunteer day for those interested in helping to build oyster reefs. Volunteers will meet on July 20th at the College’s South Walton Center. If you want to help but can not make this venture, there will be another volunteer day on July 27th. Visit the Choctawhatchee Alliance event page to learn more about volunteering opportunities.

Pelican in the St. Marks RiverThe Florida Wild Mammal Association is also always looking for volunteers. There are various choices for participation in on-site and remote activities. Some of these include assisting in animal rescue and setting up demonstration projects. Visit the Florida Wild Mammal Association volunteer page or their Facebook page for more information including volunteer guidelines.

The C-Quarters Marina’s 8th Annual Youth Fishing Tournament July 21st

Child with BluegillThe tournament is open to all kids 16 years and younger, taking place fish along the Carrabelle River to Dog Island.  All participants must be registered prior to the tournament. Entrants must also attend a Fishing Clinic that will take place on Friday evening, prior to Saturday’s tournament. To learn more including regulations and what will be provided to the kids, visit the C-Quarters Marina’s page on the tournament. (photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Gulf Coast: Preparing for Extreme Weather Forum

Now that we are in the midst of hurricane season it is important to know how to make sure that Gulf coast communities are safe during extreme weather conditions. The Gulf Coast Forum of the Risk Mitigation Leadership Series will take place July 24th – 25th in New Orleans. Read the Gulf Coast Forum agenda for more information.

Sea Turtle Update

Tropical Storm Debby destroyed many nests at Alligator Point, but since the skies have cleared several crawls have been spotted in the area. The first 35 turtle crawls were washed away with the storm and six news crawls have been found, bringing the total to 42 since the start of the season.Visit the Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol Facebook page to read more or view photos of the crawls.

Basa the Loggerhead sea turtle was found in distress during the St. Vincent’s Wildlife Refuge open house in March. He was rescued and taken to Gulf World’s Marine Institute to be treated for various medical issues. After meticulous treatment, Basa is now in great shape and has been released in the same area where he was found a few months ago. Read the full article that details his journey home here.

Apalachicola Water Wars

Apalachicola River at Bloody BluffOn June 25th, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal filed by Florida on a circuit court decision in the case involving the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. In an article published by the Florida Current, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal states that the decision allows everyone to move on, putting the issue in the past and reaching an agreement that suits all three states. However, in the Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s response to the decision, Executive Director Dan Tonsmeire expresses his disappointment in the the court’s decision, saying that the litigation is not over.

Marineland

Just across the street from the Whitney Lab where Dr. Randall Hughes and Dr. David Kimbro are working this summer (and where the In the Grass, On the Reef production crew is) is a Florida icon: Marineland. The park opened 74 years ago as the state’s first theme park and the world’s first marine animal park. After a temporary close in 2004 for renovations and a decline in attendance, Marineland is now owned by Georgia Aquarium and is pushing towards a very bright future. The Orlando Sentinel recently published an article celebrating the past of the park and its future possibilities. Read the full Orlando Sentinel article for more information on Marineland and its plans for the future.

Marine Trash Drone

A crew of designers have come up with a concept for a marine drone that would aid in the collecting trash from the ocean to be recycled. While still in the planning stages, the drone could be a big step towards cleaner seas. Read more about the trash recycling drone here.

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Coastal Roundup July 6th – July 13th, 2012

Welcome to our first Coastal Roundup. Every Friday, we’ll post a combination of local events and links to interesting articles relating to coastal ecology, fishing/ seafood, and tourism- basically everything relating to the ecosystems we cover (salt marsh, oyster reef, and seagrass bed).  Leave a comment below if you’d like us to include your upcoming events.

Rebecca Wilkerson & Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

Back in the Grass and on the Reefs

We’re back in full production on new videos that explore our coasts and the coastal way of life through the habitats that feed and employ so many in our area.  The slideshow below takes you through the last couple of weeks as we got wet and muddy with Dr. Randall Hughes and Dr. David Kimbro.

Saltwater Fishing

Bay Scallop in St. Joe BayWe’ve been heading back to St. Joe Bay to cover Randall Hughes’ marsh and seagrass bed studies, and this week we’ve been noticing a lot of people out on the water filling their buckets with scallops.  Bay Scallop Season started July 1, and has just been extended by two weeks to close on September 25th. For more information on licensing and catch limits, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife page on scallop season.

To top off your day of scalloping with a quick and delicious meal, try Bay Scallop Scampi paired perfectly with a crusty bread or steamed veggies.

Red snapperRed Snapper Season has been extended six days in the Gulf of  Mexico. Due to bad weather in June and loss of fishing opportunities, the NOAA Fisheries decided to extend the last day of harvest until July 16th. For more information, including the recent changes, read the full Florida Fish and Wildlife update on Red Snapper Season. (photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

While the red snapper has been extended, Snook Season in the Gulf of Mexico will remain closed for another year and is now expected to reopen September 1, 2013.  However, catch-and-release of snook will be allowed during the closure with proper technique, and the Atlantic season will remain unchanged. To learn more about the closure or the proper catch-and-release technique, read Florida Fish and Wildlife’s news release.

FSU Coastal and Marine Lab

FSUCML_chipThe FSUCML Conservation Lecture Series presents Auburn University’s Dr. Mark Albis.  He will share his findings on the effects of invasive Pacific Red Lionfish on Atlantic coral-reef fish communities. The lectures are open to the public. To find out more about the presentation or upcoming lectures, visit the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab page.

“Sopchoppy Stop” Eco-Heritage Tour

P1000534 This tour will take place on July 14, beginning with a stroll through historical Sopchoppy and continuing via guided cruise along the Sopchoppy River. Learn more about the tour here.

The C-Quarters Marina’s 8th Annual Youth Fishing Tournament July 21st

Child with BluegillThe tournament is open to all kids 16 years old and younger, who can fish along the Carrabelle River to Dog Island.  All participants must be registered prior to the tournament. Entrants must also attend a Fishing Clinic on the evening before Saturday’s tournament. To learn more including regulations and what will be provided to the kids, visit the C-Quarters Marina’s page on the tournament. (photo copyright Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Oyster News

Oyster reef, Alligator HarborWe first met Alicia Brown just after her arrival at the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab, when she helped Dr. David Kimbro with his October 2010 “Oyster Push” experiment. Alicia, along with Dr. Laura Petes and fellow grad student Carley Knight, have published a paper in the journal Ecology and Evolution.  The study looks at how low freshwater input affects the survival of the Apalachicola oyster population. Read their full paper here.

Tropical Storm Debby

Shorebirds gather in Tower Pool.Many of us are still drying off from Tropical Storm Debby, and while life is getting back to normal, our coastal ecosystems are still dealing with the upheaval of the storm. Those most harshly affected were the animals that make their homes along our shores. Audubon of Florida reports that shorebird nesting areas and colonies were washed away during the storm.

Sea turtle nests were also affected by the storm. Alligator Point has been having a productive nesting season so far, but as The Tallahassee Democrat reports, the storm washed away many nests or left them inundated for days.

P1000151One of our least heralded defenses against the effects of storms are our coastal wetlands.  For instance, one of the services provided by salt marshes is reducing tidal surge during storms.  This Gainesville Sun editorial looks to remind us of the importance of coastal wetlands during weather events.

Whether you’re a visitor or a resident, it is important to know who to contact for information in case of an emergency, such as the recent storm. To view Emergency Management contact information for each county in Florida visit the Florida Disaster page for contact listings.

Clean Beaches

When you visit a beach with your family and friends, you don’t want to worry about dirty water.  NPR’s health blog reports on ratings released by the Natural Resources Defense Council on the cleanliness of beaches nationwide.  Florida did not boast any 5-star ratings, though our own St. George Island did receive a 4-star rating.