Wakulla Green

Watch dimensions Wednesday, 7:30 PM/ ET to go on our latest EcoAdventure- up the St. Marks River (on WFSU-TV).
Click each flag to see a photo.
Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

IGOR chip- human appreciation 150

You may notice our EcoAdventures taking us further and further away from our usual dwellings In the Grass (salt marshes and seagrass beds) and On the Reef (oyster reefs). Our next couple of adventures take us up rivers, and away from the salt and the waves, and the little fiddler crabs. Yet these freshwater bodies are inextricably tied to marsh and reef ecosystems that sit in the Apalachee Bay, into where the St. Marks and Wacissa (via the Aucilla) empty.

We interviewed Cynthia in a favorite spot of hers, at the convergence of the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers. It's also this man's favorite spot to catch fish, as we found after starting our interview.

When you watch our trek to the ghost town of Magnolia, up the St. Marks, on Wednesday’s dimensions, you’ll see Captain James Hodges slow down as he passes a couple of fishermen. They tell us they are catching a pinfish. You can see that it’s a fully grown pinfish. If you set minnow traps in an oyster reef (like David Kimbro in this video) or dragged a net by a salt marsh (like Jack Rudloe does here), you can see where pinfish spend their juvenile years hiding from larger predators. Same for the mullet and redfish we spotted off of our canoes in the Wacissa. The osprey we see taking flight in Wednesday’s video depends on these fish for food. The health of the river is as dependent on these habitats as oyster reefs are dependent on rivers for fresh water to maintain a livable level of salinity.

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A good stretch of the St. Marks River borders the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Having this protected land along his charter routes makes his tours a more profitable endeavour.

Among the beneficiaries of this interaction are people working in the ecotourism trade. The Tallahassee Community College Wakulla Center saw an economic opportunity for the county in its abundance of protected land- 73% of Wakulla is managed by state and local government. The Green Guide Certification Program gives people both the understanding of how local ecosystems work, and the business training so that they may make a living. Cynthia Paulson of Palmetto Expeditions set us up on two guided trips. The Magnolia trip airs this Wednesday, the Wacissa trip airs on January 18, 2012.

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About Rob Diaz de Villegas

Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for WFSU-TV, covering outdoors and ecology. Early in his television career, Rob focused on music production. After a couple of years of producing and editing Spanish and bilingual music video shows in San Antonio, Rob returned to Tallahassee in 2002 to resume production of his local music performance show, OutLoud. From that, he transitioned to local music documentaries, until one day he found himself standing in a muddy salt marsh with a camera, and his life was changed forever. Rob created this blog for a National Science Foundation funded marine biology project called In the Grass, On the Reef. No one asked Rob to expand on this work and cover all ecology in our area, but it seemed like a good thing to do. Subsequent projects under the Ecology Blog umbrella include EcoShakespeare (funded by WNET and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and Roaming the Red Hills (funded by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy). His most recent documentary follows the lives of four red wolf pups born at the Tallahassee Museum, apex predators that once hunted in our local wild spaces. Rob is married with two young sons, and they try to have outdoor family adventures as often as possible (you might see them on the blog from time to time).