Monthly Archives: July 2012

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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.