Tag Archives: Sopchoppy River


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.


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.

Stop and smell the Sparkleberries on the Florida Trail

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV


Sawtooth palmetto lining a natural levy above the Sopchoppy River.

IGOR chip- human appreciation 150I was walking with my wife the other day and I asked her, “Did Tallahassee always have so much fall foliage?” She assured me it did.  I guess I remember seeing red and yellow leaves in past fall seasons, just not so widespread.  Ever since I went with Kent Wimmer to shoot a dimensions segment on the Florida National Scenic Trail, I can’t help but notice it everywhere.  You don’t get vast expanses of orange and red, like you do in New England.  Instead, we get these great red and gold highlights popping out of the green.  Why had I not been paying more attention to it before? I guess, just like with the salt marshes that had looked like “just a bunch of grass” to me, I don’t always notice a good thing until I get a camera on it.


Shepherd Spring is a nice spot to sit and reflect.

The depth of my obliviousness went beyond foliage.  The trails we walked with Kent and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) volunteers were just off of roads I’ve been driving for years.  The woods that filled the distances between destinations contained the Cathedral of Palms, and Shepherd Spring.  Those are both in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  A little to the west in Wakulla County, it takes just a few moments to drive over the Sopchoppy River on 319.  But then, a couple of weeks ago, I spent a couple of hours walking alongside it, eating sparkleberries growing by the trail.   It made me think about what I might be driving by when I visit family in Miami or Tampa.  This state has a huge diversity of ecosystems, and I’m realizing that although I’ve lived here over thirty years, there is a lot of Florida that I know nothing about.


Taking a stroll in the Cathedral of Palms. A slight variation in elevation makes this ground a little damper, giving palm trees an advantage over surrounding hardwood trees.

“It’s a lot different than a lot of the other trails in America.” Said Sean Ogle, Field Support Coordinator for the Florida Trail Association, “I’d say it’s the only place that has this many different types of ecosystems in such a small area.” The trail starts in the Everglades and passes through forests, palm stands like the Cathedral of Palms, and along lakes, rivers, sink holes, and salt marshes. The Florida Trail Association web site is a good resource for finding what trails are near you or to plan a trip.  The FTA and its chapters across the state (the Apalachee, Suwannee, Panhandle, and Choctowhatchee chapters fall within the WFSU TV & FM spheres) maintain the trail using mostly volunteer labor.  That includes the students that the SCA sends here from all over the country and locals like George Weaver, the Sopchoppy River trailmaster who guided us in the video.

I can’t wait to see what else I might have been missing out on. You can tune in to dimensions later this month (or check back here) to see my next EcoAdventure, probably in some place I’ve zipped past a million times…

Don’t know what to bring when you go hiking?  Check out this video with the FTA’s Kent Wimmer.
What would you like to see as an EcoAdventure?  Let us know what you’re doing out in the unpaved places of North Florida, we might want to tag along.