Monthly Archives: May 2012

2012 Florida Bay Scallop Season

July 1 — September 10

If you’re thinking of heading north to enjoy Florida’s popular scalloping season, we have a new publication for you.  Florida Sea Grant now has available a map of marinas and boat ramps for scallopers who visit the Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach areas of Taylor County. It’s a companion to the popular map for the Citrus County area. You can obtain a free copy of the Taylor County map by emailing info@flseagrant.org, and ask for publication number SGEF 191. The map is also online at the Florida Sea Grant website, flseagrant.org.

Each year FWC biologist survey bay scallop populations in June, prior to the season opening. The data this year should be entered by June 22. So, if you want to check where the hot spots are, check out this FWC website.

Top 10 New Species List

Each year the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University announces a list of the Top 10 New Species for the preceding calendar year. The list contains some truly incredible wonders of nature. Here are a few examples to whet your appetite (perhaps appetite is not the best term to use). Photos courtesy Arizona State University.

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Louisiana Pancake Batfish -- It was discovered just before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 and its entire known distribution is in the region of the spill. It is also a remarkably hideous (in a good way) animal. It is flat like a pancake, spikey, hops on its fins and has huge bulging eyes.
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Psychedelic Frogfish -- It has an unusual psychedelic pattern and is unique among frogfishes in being flat-faced.
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Bonaire Banded Box Jelly -- It was so 'common" it had a common name before it was scientifically named. They had a "citizen scientist" naming contest which drew more than 300 entries. It's beautiful but highly venomous.

New Boat Sales Are At Historical Lows

At a recent Florida Sea Grant sponsored conference (Stem to Stern II), I had the opportunity to listen to Mr. Dusty McCoy, CEO of Brunswick Corporation, discuss recent trends in the U.S. boat building industry.

The decades of the 1980s and 1990s were good to the boat construction industry, in part fueled by the popularity of Personal Power Craft (PWCs – “jets skis”). However, for the past 20 years, ownership of traditional water craft (Non-PWC) has remained at the same level and has not kept pace with population growth.  Furthermore, sales of new boats have declined significantly. In 2000, new boat sales totaled 344,000 in 2011 new boat sales totaled 140,000.

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Anglers and Divers in for a Treat!

Spectacular Addition to Lee County Artificial Reef System Coming this Summer

picture of USS Mohawk

USS Mohawk, 1935. Photo Courtesy US Coast Guard

Photo of modern day Mohawk

USS Mohawk, 2012, being towed to Ft. Myers. Photo courtesy of Bob Wasno.

The 165-foot’ Coast Guard cutter, the USS Mohawk, is scheduled for deployment this summer as part of the Lee County Artificial Reef Program. The vessel has just been towed from Key West to Ft. Myers Beach and will be deployed after it has been properly cleaned and prepared. The cost of deployment, approximately $1.3 million,  is mostly funded by the West Coast Inland Navigation District. Scuttled military ships such as the Hoyt S. Vandenberg and Spiegel Grove in the Keys, and the Oriskany in the Panhandle, have become economic boosts for the communities where they have been sunk as artificial reefs. Research conducted by the Florida Sea Grant College Program has clearly documented the economic benefits of artificial reef development in southwest Florida.

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Water Atlas — Detailed Data for Scientists of All Ages

Water atlas cover pictureFrom kids to senior scientists, researchers in Tampa Bay depend upon the Water Atlas website for the most up-to-date and in-depth data available on ecosystems in the region. Now, the Water Atlas has become easier to use, particularly for citizen scientists concerned about water quality in lakes and rivers near their homes. The goal is to allow people from every walk of life to understand the issues facing the region as it continues to grow.

While an enormous amount of data is contributed by trained scientists, the Water Atlas also includes information collected by citizen scientists.

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Ocean Acidification: What is it?

There is a new term being bantered about related to climate change – ocean acidification. Simply put, ocean acidification refers to a fundamental change in ocean water chemistry resulting from more carbon dioxide (CO2) being dissolved in seawater. This is a result of the increasing concentration of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere due to our burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal, etc.).

About one-third to one-half of the CO2 released into our atmosphere ends up in the oceans. The more CO2 in the water, the more acidic it becomes. Although scientists have been talking about increases in CO2 resulting in climate change for decades, the concept of ocean acidification is relatively new.

When CO2 dissolves in water it produces a weak acid called carbonic acid. It may be a weak acid, but it helps shape our surrounding geology in Florida. It is the mechanism that produces the notorious sinkholes found here (notorious if you happen to build your home near one). When CO2 is dissolved in rainwater it creates this weak acid which can, over 1000s of years, dissolve limestone. Limestone primarily consists of calcium carbonate which was originally from sea life such as clams, snails and other mollusks.

So what? Many marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate shells (clams, snails, sea urchins, etc) or skeletons (corals, certain types of phytoplankton, etc) are negatively impacted by increasing CO2. The change in water chemistry makes it harder for these organisms to secrete calcium carbonate. Also, acidic water actually dissolves calcium carbonate (remember the sinkholes mentioned above). Several researchers have reported that by the end of this century, coral reefs may erode faster than they can be rebuilt. Although scientists do not yet fully understand the ecological consequences of ocean acidification, it is feared that there could be widespread impacts on Earth’s marine ecosystems.

From Stem to Stern II: Statewide Boating Conference Returns

http://www.flseagrant.org/boating/StemtoStern/

After a six‐year hiatus, the statewide boating and waterway management conference “From Stem to Stern” returns May 15‐17 in Clearwater Beach at the Marriott Suites on Sand Key. Registration for the event is now open, and you can take advantage of the early‐bird registration fee of $100 if you register  before April 2.

The first “From Stem to Stern” conference was held in 2006, and attendees seemed to really recognize the need for boating and waterway stakeholders from around Florida to gather and discuss issues facing their counties and regions. This year’s invited speakers will address events that have transpired in the interim, including updates on state legislation affecting navigation and working waterfront communities, the state’s anchoring and mooring program that is being pilot‐tested in five cities; and issues related to waterway access and environmental protection. The flyer at the end of the newsletter provides more conference details.

Join Us During Your Lunch Hour, and Bring Your Brown Bag

We offer a FREE brown bag webinar series to help you make informed decisions about purchasing and eating Florida seafood. You’ll also learn how seafood makes it from the ocean to your table, and the sustainability and safety associated with some of Florida’s most commercially valuable seafood products. Never participated in a webinar? With an internet connection, it is pretty easy. Our next one will be April 11 from 12:15 to 12:45, and it will be about mackerel. For more information, visit http://floridaseafoodwebinar.eventbrite.com/ or contact Bryan Fluech, Collier County Sea Grant Extension Agent at fluech@ufl.edu.

Florida Sea Grant/Rookery Bay Scientific Angler Series

March 21: Tracking Mercury Through the Food Web in Southwest Florida Coastal Waters
Dr. Darren Rumbold‐ Florida Gulf Coast University

April 10: Tarpon Fishing. What Matters, What Doesn’t, and How You Can Help
Dr. Kathy Guindon‐ FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

These are held from 6:30‐8 pm at the Rookery Bay Reserve Environmental Learning Center. We’ve got some great speakers lined up to discuss ongoing research and conservation projects related to our regional fisheries. Visit Bryan Fluech’s blog at http://collierseagrant.blogspot.com/2011/11/2012‐scientific‐angler‐seminar‐series.html for complete details.

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