Category Archives: Along the Coast

Over 60 milk jugs from a Tallahassee Starbucks.  Good use of recycled materials, but will it float?

Whatever Floats (We Hope) Your Boat

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

 

Over 60 milk jugs from a Tallahassee Starbucks. Good use of recycled materials, but will it float?

Today we take a little break from the Apalachicola River and Bay crises and from our ecological explorations into the intertidal for something fun: The FSU Coastal & Marine Lab’s 1st Annual Regatta.  People from the community, many wearing outlandish costumes, brought in seven different homemade boats made from recycled materials.  I was mentally prepared to film sinking ships (and half of them tested their boats ahead of time) and rescues from the two rescue boats stationed at either end of the course.  It was as entertaining a shoot as I’ve been on recently, and it could have been a longer segment if I’d included the explanations of each boat name, which were typically pretty clever.

In the interview with Dr. Felicia Coleman, she mentions that she wanted to bring attention to recycling.  It’s not as hot button an issue as climate change, the BP spill, or water management in the ACF basin, but a few stats gathered by In the Grass, On the Reef Associate Producer Rebecca Wilkerson illustrate that if we as a society recycled more of our plastic, we would be doing our oceans a favor.

The "Splinter," a boat made from a kiddie pool and various plastic recyclables, wrapped in plastic and shaped like a turtle. Who can identify which turtle each girl is supposed to be from their painted on masks?

Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year.  Sources gathered by Rebecca indicate that only 5-10% of it is recycled.  The rest ends up in landfills and in the ocean.  There is no definitive number on how much plastic is floating in the ocean.  The State of the Planet blog from Earth Institute at Columbia University puts the number in the hundreds of million of tons, where a more ambitious attempt at calculating it from 5GYRES puts it at 315 billion tons.  This page on the Marine Research Institute’s Algalita web site discusses how slowly plastic breaks down, possibly staying in ecosystems for centuries.  Plastic floating near the surface confuses birds and gets eaten by them.  Properly disposing of plastic would is the best way to prevent this burden on our oceans.

Well, there I went getting serious when I said we were taking a break from the serious.  I hope you enjoy the video.  In the next few weeks we’ll delve back into the intertidal, looking more closely at some of the ecosystem services provided by salt marshes and oyster reefs.  And we’ll be posting two video segments from RiverTrek 2012, so stay tuned!

Coastal Critters and More at the FSUCML Open House

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

IGOR chip- human appreciation 150

When I heard it was supposed to rain on Saturday, I was a little bummed. I was planning on taking the family to the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab Open House followed by the FSU Spring Game (where my 12-week old son could attend his first football game featuring my two favorite teams).  Luckily, the storms rolled through early in the morning and made for a nice day at the coast.

P1030210I started off by visiting my friends at the Randall Hughes and David Kimbro labs.  Robyn and Emily held down the fort in the Hughes lab, where kids watched a very peculiar sport.  As Randall’s previous post promised, there were indeed periwinkle snail races.  As you can see from the photo at the right here, the snails were color coded (white and blue) and numbered so that they could be told apart.  Some crown conchs (periwinkle predators) were placed into the tubs to give the smaller snails some incentive to climb.  The fastest climbers won.  Let’s watch part of one race:

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Preserving Our Coastal History

IGOR chip- human appreciation 150IGOR chip- gastronomy 150While the focus of this site is of course the science and ecology of our coastal habitats, we do like to occasionally look at the people, the culture, and the history of the area.  This of course leads us back to those habitats, from which people on the Forgotten Coast have fed themselves and made a living for thousands of years.

Mike Plummer WFSU-TV
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Revelers at the Mighty Mullet Maritime Festival. The event was sponsored by Big Bend Maritime Center.

The Big Bend Maritime Center is an ongoing project of Florida Foresight, which is a non-profit organization that incorporated in 2002.  Their vision is for balanced economic, environmental and social development of Florida’s coastal communities.  Maritime museums have proven popular in other parts of the coastal United States, so it makes sense that with the rich maritime heritage of Florida’s Big Bend and no current interpretations in the area, one might thrive here, as well.  In speaking with Bill Lowrie and Pam Portman, it became clear to me that this is a project they truly believe in and they have a real grasp of the obstacles they face as this project moves forward.  They are very serious about this being more than a museum.  Besides being an eco-tourism draw…it should be a center of local civic activity, an educational resource for area schools and a haven to preserve local maritime traditions before they fade into history.  It will still be a couple of years before this effort starts to bear visible returns, but I think it may be a real gem when it’s done and I look forward to seeing it become a reality.

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This mullet was an entry in a Maritime Festival cookoff. Mullet has been a major part of people's lives here for thousands of years.

Thanks to Del Suggs for letting us use some of his music on the piece.  The song he’s playing at the end of the piece is Magic Chair.  Here he is playing the song at the WFSU studios in 1989:

Comments are welcome!