Libby Carnahan

2017 Earth Day Mail Art Competition

UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County invites you to celebrate Earth Day by getting in touch with your artistic side! Pick up your colored pencil, paintbrush, or scissors and get creative! The 2017 Earth Day Mail Art Competition is currently accepting submissions of original, handmade artwork from all ages in 3 categories- Love Tampa Bay, To Earth With Love, and Plastic Aware. Residents of Tampa Bay counties may submit one distinct creative piece per category. Age groups are broken down into youth (<12 years old), teens (13-18 years), and adult (18+). There will be 3 prizes awarded in each category.  For full contest rules and prize details click here.

MAIL ART CATEGORIES

#LoveTampaBay – Show us why you love Tampa Bay’s waters and wildlife
#ToEarthWithLove – Show us how you give back to the earth, whether it is through recycling, composting, conserving water, educating, etc.
#PlasticAware – Show us how plastics are impacting the environment and/or communities (people)

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Salty Topics: Exploring Oil Spill Impacts in the Gulf of Mexico

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In April of 2010, a gas release on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused an explosion that caused devastation in the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 210 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of 87 days to make this oil spill the worst one in recent history. Because of this oil spill, the coastlines of states like Texas, Louisiana, and Florida have portions that were polluted by the oil spill in 2010, and there are still sightings of oil washing up on these state’s shores today. Nearly 8,000 marine animals, such as turtles and birds, were reportedly dead within six-months of the oil spill.

Even though the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred over six years ago, scientists and researchers are still discovering the oil spill’s effects on the Gulf of Mexico. Come join us and Dr. Monica Wilson as she discusses recent research findings and explores the Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s impacts on habitats, aquatic wildlife, and human health.

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Salty Topics: A Blue-Green Summer in South Florida

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This past summer, Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and St. Lucie Estuary became sheathed in toxic algal blooms. Do you know why these toxic algal events occurred? This month’s Salty Topics speaker series welcomes you to learn about the context of these events in a discussion presented by Dr. Karl Havens.

During early summer 2016, a bloom of the toxin-producing blue-green alga Microcystis began for form on the surface of Lake Okeechobee. By July, it covered nearly 45% of the surface of the lake with a fluorescent green surface scum. The bloom was fueled by high levels of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in the lake water that come from agricultural runoff, and by warmer than average water temperature and good underwater light conditions that were favorable for rapid growth. At the same time that this bloom was happening in the lake, the US Army Corps of Engineers was releasing large quantities of water from the lake in order to lower water levels in preparation for hurricane season. They are required to do this by a federally-authorized ‘lake regulation schedule.’ The flood control releases carried nutrients and toxic algae downstream to the St. Lucie Estuary, where massive blooms also developed and included another toxic species called Anabaena. As of late August, the blooms persisted and the ecological, human health and economic impacts have yet to be determined. A perfect storm created this event, and to fully understand it one must have some context about the regional flood control system and about sources of nutrients – topics to be discussed as part of this talk.

Karl Havens is a Professor at the University of Florida and Director of Florida Sea Grant, which is a NOAA-funded program that is a partnership between the Department of Congress, the State University System of Florida and Florida coastal communities. The mission of the program is to support research, education and outreach to preserve coastal resources and economies. Dr. Havens has been studying lakes for over 30 years and has published over 160 journal articles, three books and numerous book chapters dealing with harmful algae and other topics related to human impacts on lake ecosystems.

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Salty Topics: Tampa Bay Blue Carbon Project

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Do you know that Tampa Bay’s coastal ecosystems soak up and store carbon in a process called Coastal Blue Carbon? If not, come join us and Dr. David Tomasko for our Salty Topics speaker series!

Coastal Blue Carbon is a new term for carbon captured by living coastal and marine organisms and stored in coastal ecosystems. Mangroves, sea grass beds and salt marshes take up atmospheric carbon and store it in their systems throughout their life cycle. Also, these plants trap fine muddy sediments in their roots structures building thousands of years. Tampa Bay is a unique ecosystem as it is one of the few places in the U.S. to have three critical coastal habitats – mangroves, salt marsh, and seagrasses. Dr. David Tomasko, Principal Associate ESA, will share the results of the Tampa Bay Blue Carbon Project that was jointly funded by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and Restore America’s Estuaries.

The presentation will include:
• Carbon storage and sequestration rates for Tampa Bay habitats
• Impacts of land use change, including sea-level rise and management actions, on carbon in the estuary
• How blue carbon ecosystem services can inform management decisions and provide additional incentives to support conservation and restoration and adaptive management

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Salty Topics: A Thorny Matter: Invasion of the Indo-Pacific Lionfish in the Western Atlantic

lionfishInvasive Indo-Pacific Lionfish were introduced by aquarium hobbyists to waters off the southeast coast of Florida in the 1980s.  Over the past ten years, these beautiful, ornate fish have rapidly spread across the entire tropical western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Venezuela, throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.  The population sizes in the invaded range commonly exceed those from their native habitats by several orders of magnitude.  With a seemingly insatiable appetite for our native fishes, and a lack of local predators and disease to keep them in check, Lionfish can have detrimental effects on the invaded marine ecosystem.  In this talk, we will review the history of the invasion, discuss the biology and ecology that has allowed them to be so successful, highlight some damaging impacts they can have, and finish with what scientists are doing to combat the problem.

On Thursday, March 3rd, UF/IFAS Extension, Florida Sea Grant at Weedon Island Preserve welcomes Dr. Chris Stallings, University of South Florida College of Marine Science, to present “Salty Topics: A Thorny Matter: Invasion of the Indo-Pacific Lionfish in the Western Atlantic”. The educational program is intended for adult and high school age audiences.

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What YOU need to know about Sea Level Rise

Southwest Florida is experiencing sea level rise. However, if we inform ourselves with the science and plan collectively as a community, we will be more resilient to any potential impacts. After a careful review of scientific research and associated literature, the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel, an ad-hoc group of local scientific experts, has drafted a “Recommended Projection of Sea Level Rise in the Tampa Bay Region“.  Come learn about the report, ask questions, and discuss next steps for our region at 7pm November 5th Salty Topics at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702.‪

Beach ErosionThe recommendation provides guidance on what sea level rise projections should be incorporated into local planning efforts. The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) has voted unanimously to accept the  Recommendation for distribution to local governments. The TBRPC One Bay Resilient Communities Working Group will continue to facilitate the discussion of adaptation planning with planners, emergency managers and government leaders to identify practical and incremental solutions to address sea level rise.

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Salty Topics: Seahorses- searching for small, cryptic fish in a vast ocean world

seahorse.rlingSeahorses and pipefish (syngnathid fishes) inhabit shallow coastlines around the world, congregating in some of the most “at-risk” marine habitats on the planet – seagrasses, mangroves, and coral reefs.  Even in places where syngnathids are locally abundant their distribution is patchy, with highly variable group sizes on both small and large scales.

Join Dr. Heather Masonjones, of University of Tampa, at Salty Topics, Thursday April 2nd. Refreshments served at 6:30pm followed by the Salty Topics lecture at 7:00 p.m. at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702. Register online at http://saltyseahorses.eventbrite.com.

The small body size, cryptic nature, and sparse distribution of seahorse and pipefish make studying their habitat use, ecology and natural mating systems difficult. The work demands creative innovations to track individuals, monitor populations, and develop predictive habitat models for effective conservation.  Our current understanding of the habitat use and population ecology of the dwarf seahorse in Tampa Bay will be discussed, linking key aspects of changing coastal environments to their demographic variability over time.  In addition, new work with a larger species of seahorse in the Bahamas will also be presented, to help illustrate how different environmental contexts can shape both the evolution of and risks to species on a broader geographic scale.

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Red Snapper Workshops

RedSnapperThe public is invited to attend one of five public workshops on the recreational red snapper season in Gulf of Mexico state waters scheduled for early March. At these workshops, FWC will gather stakeholder input on a proposed 2015 season that would start the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 23) and run through Sunday, July 12, resume for all of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5-7) and finish with Saturdays and Sundays throughout  September and October, with the last day of harvest being Sunday, Nov. 1. This proposed season would be 70 days. This season was the preferred option discussed by Commissioners during the February meeting in Jacksonville. Staff will present results from these workshops to the Commission at its April meeting in Tallahassee.

Workshop schedule (all are from 6 to 8 p.m. local time): Continue reading

Salty Topics: Simple Submersibles as Tools in Ocean Exploration

RIOVThe Salty Topics marine research speaker series is in its 4th year at Weedon Island Preserve in northeast St. Petersburg, Florida. Join us on Thursday, December 4th, as Erica Moulton takes us deep into the world of ocean submersibles. Registration and refreshments will open at 6:30 and the talk will begin at 7pm at the Cultural and Natural History Center, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702. Register online. For questions, contact Florida Sea Grant Agent Libby Carnahan at lcarnahan@ufl.edu

When exploring the world’s oceans, it is best to have the right tool for the job!  Today, thanks to technological advances, scientists are obtaining more information than ever before about our ocean’s biology, geology, and chemical and physical processes. Erica will touch on the similarities and unique differences of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and submarines. The presentation on ROVs will also examine how scientists, explorers and citizen scientists are using them to contribute to what we know about our ocean planet.  We will also have a short hands on opportunity to demonstrate how all ROVs function.

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Sharks, Friend or Foe?

Duh-dum, duh-dum, duh-dum, …Shark Week! Well friends, it is that time of year again. Sharks take center stage this week on cable television. With all the hype, it can be hard to separate the fact from the fiction. Are sharks friends or foe? Perhaps they are not either. Perhaps we should look at them as oft-misunderstood, ecologically-important predatory ocean fish. So what are sharks?

Sharks ARE ancient. Sharks are sometimes referred to as “living fossils”. Ancient sharks lived in the oceans long before animals colonized the land. Sharks have lived on earth for at least 400 million years! Most fossil evidence of early sharks exists as fossil teeth along with a few skin impressions. Ancestry of sharks dates back before the earliest known dinosaur. Although the dinosaurs are long gone, sharks still live on.

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