Monthly Archives: February 2014

Salty Topics: Hook, Line, and Sink ‘Em

Picture 055 - CopyWhen fishing, reeling a fish up from deep water (>~40ft+) can often cause barotrauma for the fish. The changes in pressure can cause physiological stress to the fish, including an over-expanded swim bladder.  A growing body of research reveals grouper, snapper, and other reef fish suffering from barotraumas can survive if properly released and quickly allowed to return to safe habitat.

Until recently, the best management practice for barotraumas was fish venting. However, new release methods and fish descending gear are showing promising results.  By increasing the survival rates of fish they release, anglers can help make Florida’s fisheries healthier and more robust.

Thursday, March 6th,  John Stevely of Florida Sea Grant will present “Hook, Line, and Sink Em: A Study of Fish Descending Methods” at the Salty Topics speaker series. The talk starts at 7pm at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702.

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Mud or Stone? Make sure you have the right crab!

mud crab FWC

A mud crab in an oyster bed. (Photo credit: FWC)

Anglers in southwest Florida are fortunate they have several options to chose from when fishing with live bait; particularly crabs. Besides using blue and fiddler crabs to catch popular species such as red drum, sheepshead, and pompano, many anglers also use what is known as mud crabs. As their name implies mud crabs are often found in muddy environments particularly around oyster beds, shell rubble, rocks, pilings, mangrove prop roots, and other structures. While there are several species of mud crabs, they typically have brownish to black-colored carapaces (or shells) and the fingers (or tips) of their thick, unequal-sized claws are also dark in color. The interior portion of their claws, however, tend to be pale in color.

Mud crabs belong to the family Xanthidae, which also includes the more familiar Florida stone crab (Menippe mercenaria). Like many mud crabs, the fingers of a stone crab’s claws are also dark in color. Depending on their size, a stone crab’s carapace can vary from black/dark purple to tan in color, which can look similar to the body of a mud crab.

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Upcoming Seminar: Human Impacts on Ecology of Beaches

Susan Bell, will present “Sandy Beaches: Human Impacts on the ecology of a Coastal Habitat” this Thursday, February 6th.  Coastal Sandy beaches are  sites of much human recreation and development . FWC-Horseshoe-CrabsHowever,  the ecology of this coastal ecosystem is relatively unknown. FWC.shorebird Sandy beaches contain a unique assemblage of fauna, especially within the sandy sediments, that is highly utilized as food by waterbirds, fish, and ghost crabs. Human impacts on beaches include: removal of wrack, alteration of shorelines, and/ or enhancing conditions, and potentially oil spills. Dr. Bell will address how these human actions can potentially impact the wildlife that live on and in beach systems.FWC.shorebirdFWC.shorebird

Dr. Susan Bell, Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, received her Ph.D. in 1979 in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. Her current research interests include:  restoration of coastal ecosystems, ecology of sandy beach ecosystems and assessing changes in underwater seagrass landscapes.

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