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
August 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.
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)
Wrack, 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.
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
In 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.
Although 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