Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Life Cycle of a Stone Crab

Stone crabs are one of Florida’s most valuable fisheries, and like other species we depend on for seafood, they often utilize a variety of habitats and undergo a series of physical transformations throughout their life.

Mating in stone crabs takes place near and offshore during the fall and can only occur when the female has molted and her shell is soft. While eggs are fertilized internally, they are eventually deposited beneath the female’s abdomen or “apron” in an external mass called a sponge. Spawning typically occurs during summer months and females can release millions of fertilized eggs in several intervals.

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National Survey Evaluates Importance of Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife Watching

Every five years, a national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation is conducted to measure the importance of wildlife-based recreation. The survey evaluates the value of these activities to people and to the economy. The preliminary findings of the 2011 National Survey were released in August 2012 and a complimentary state overview was released in September 2012, both by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The final reports are expected to be available this month (November 2012) for the national overview and December 2012 for the state overview.

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Estuary Nurseries: Early life histories of popular sportfish

Perhaps the most well-known function of estuaries, such as Charlotte Harbor, is their role as nursery grounds for growing fish, shrimp and shellfish.  Very few marine species spawn in estuaries, but estuaries are used extensively as nursery grounds.  Most fish and crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, etc.) spawn offshore.  The eggs are typically planktonic (free floating).  Eggs develop into larvae that depend upon tides and currents to transport them to suitable habitats to settle out and grow within.  Settling young fish and crustaceans utilize a number of different survival strategies, but common to all is a quest to not be eaten.

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Summary of the 2012 Great Goliath Grouper Count

goliath grouper on PaddlewheelFor the third year in a row, Florida Sea Grant Agents in southwest Florida teamed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with the assistance of volunteer divers and captains to participate in the “Great Goliath Grouper Count.” Although the project originally covered Collier through Pasco Counties, it has expanded to include sites in the Big Bend region and southeast Florida.  The goals of this regional project are to:

  • Provide a snapshot of goliath grouper presence and abundance at known artificial reefs
  •  Compare abundance & size distribution to habitat, depth, and region – both between and within years
  •  Characterize the size structure of goliath grouper within the study area
  •  Involve stakeholders in the collection of fisheries data

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