John Stevely

Historic Fishing Village of Cortez Has a Dream

Large-Scale Habitat Restoration Begins

Join the fun, be a “Grouper Groupie”  Feb 14-15, at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival and witness a village dream becoming a reality.

Using the proceeds from the festival and partnering with a number organizations, the village has begun the serious task of restoring 100 acres of Sarasota Bay shoreline.

You will have a blast! Music, dancing, delicious seafood, and much, much more in the historic fishing village of Cortez. Spend a day strolling through or a piece of what old time Florida looked like.

While having fun, you will learn more about where your seafood comes from.

And, you will be participating in an important cause. The festival’s mission is endorsed by fame ocean-explorer Jean-Michelle Cousteau.

“Your FISH Preserve is very impressive” wrote Jean-Michel Cousteau, founder of the Oceans Future Society. “Its economic value cannot be judged in terms of dollars alone. I have seen from many places around the world, communities like the fishing village of Cortez, suffering from the demise of the natural resources base on which they depend. Your project is an important reminder of the vital connections between nature and humanity.”

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Cortez Fishing Festival, February 15-16, 2014

Festival Mission Endorsed by Famed Ocean Explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau2014 Art work

Here is your chance to enjoy a family fun-filled day along the Sarasota Bay shoreline in the historic fishing village of Cortez. Come see a piece of what old-time Florida looks like and learn more about the Florida’s commercial fishing heritage.

Music, nautical arts, a marine life touch tank, delicious seafood and much, much more.

All festival proceeds go to expanding and restoring the FISH Preserve — 95 acres of environmentally sensitive lands along the Sarasota Bay shoreline.

Admission: $3.00, kids under 12 free. Free remote parking with shuttle service ($2.50, round trip).

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Florida Clam Farming

Good for the Environment, Good for the Economy

Due to foreign competition you don’t often hear about Florida aquaculture (farming fish and shellfish). But, growing clams in Florida has proven to be profitable, good for the environment, and an important way to sustain rapidly vanishing working waterfronts in the state. Want to learn more?

Here are two extremely informative websites.Cedar-Key-Sign

The University of Florida Shellfish  Extension website provides a wealth of information on Florida’s clam industry.

Also, check out the Cedar Keys Everlasting project website which explains the importance of clam farming to this historic Florida fishing village and how the industry benefits the environment

You Got to See This!

Underwater Video of Fish Being Returned to Bottom 105 Feet Down

Four small red grouper placed in utility crate -- all fish released one minute within capture.

Four small red grouper placed in utility crate — all fish released within one minute capture.

View Fish Video Here

Florida Sea Grant Extension Agents are currently evaluating the practically of number of ways to release fish caught in deep water. The change in presure can rupture the swimm bladder, making the fish unable to swim back to the bottom. However, research has shown, that in some cases, if the fish can swim back down it can heal and live.

One of these devices is simply a utility crate. The fish can be placed in the crate, flipped over the side, and then descended until the gas trapped in the body is compressed and the fish can swim back to the bottom. If you check out the accompaning photo and click on the link to video, I think it will all make perfect sense to you.

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Learning To Live With Red Tide

Concentrations of this organism (Karenia brevis) can reach millions of cell per quart of water during red tide events. Photo: FWC.

Check out the Beach Conditions Report

Since the devastating red tide of 2005, we have been fortunate in that there have only been infrequent minor red tide events along Florida’s southwest coast. During 2005, residents and tourists were subjected to what seemed like endless months of dead fish washing up on our beaches and beach-goers fled our beaches due to the respiratory distress caused by the neurotoxin produced by the red tide organism – the stench from rotting fish didn’t help matters. Newspapers trumpeted headlines about “dead zones” in the Gulf where essentially every living creature had died.

Red tide is caused by the presence of a microscopic plant-like organism that secretes a nuerotoxin.

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Thirty-First Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

There's something for everyone at this year's festival!

There’s something for everyone at this year’s festival!

February 16 and 17, 10 – 6.

Festival Website click here

Get ready for two unique days of fun and family entertainment along the historic and picturesque shoreline of Cortez.  If you love seafood and want to savor a taste of Florida’s history, don’t miss the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

The Festival is a special event: visitors will be welcomed to help Cortezians celebrate their love of marine life and pride in their heritage.  Festival goers will enjoy a variety of live entertainment, music, clog dancing, boat rides, marine life exhibits, plenty of delicious seafood, and the beautiful vista from the Cortez shoreline will provide a day you won’t soon forget.  You will also be treated to a nautical Arts and Crafts Show and tours and displays on local marine life and the commercial fishing industry.

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Oysters in the News

Oyster Production in Apalachicola Bay Decliningoyster

Those of us in here in southwest Florida may not be aware of the environmental challenges facing Apalachicola Bay, one of the most productive estuaries in Florida.

Apalachicola Bay supports a world famous oyster fishery, producing just about all of the oysters harvested in Florida. But now times are not good for commercial harvesters. Severe draught and possibly other factors are now threatening their livelihood.

Click on the links below for more information.

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Scallop Restoration News Flash

Recent News on Bay Scallop Restoration

Recent Marine Scene newsletter articles have highlighted efforts to survey bay scallop populations in southwest Florida and efforts to restore scallop abundance to levels not seen in several decades. The hope is that improved water quality and recovery of seagrass beds will set the stage for a recovery in local scallop populations.

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Scallop larvae ready to release. Photo courtesy Bay Shellfish Co.
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An adult scallop, ready for spawning, shows its characteristics blue 'eyes.' Photo courtesy Bay Shellfish Co.
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Scallop food. In these tanks are microscopic algae raised in the hatchery and fed to the scallop larvae. Photo courtesy Bay Shellfish Co.
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Booms are in place, ready for deployment of larvae.Larvae are also released outside of the booms. Photo by John Stevely
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Betty Staugler, Charlotte Co. Sea Grant Extension Agent, deploys larvae into the waiting booms. Photo courtesy Mike Braun
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Jim Culter of Mote Marine Laboratory deploys larvae into waiting booms. Photo by Jay Leverone

Experimental releases of scallop larvae raised in a hatchery are now underway. Scallops have been spawned and then cultivated for about 10 days until they reach the point where the swimming larvae are ready to settle out of the water and take up a bottom-dwelling existence. The hope is that by reducing their two-week free swimming larval stage, a much higher percentage of scallops will survive to settle.

Also, since they will not be floating about in the water for weeks they should settle out close to the release point and enable us to conduct surveys to see if the released larvae truly result in adult scallops. As part of the experiment, booms have been placed to temporarily constrain the larvae and hopefully ensure they settle where we can look for them when they have grown to a larger size. As part of the monitoring process, spat collectors have been placed to see if the young scallops settled near the release point. Spat is a term that refers to tiny scallops that have changed from the free- swimming stage to the bottom- dwelling stage that settles in seagrasses.

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From the Tailpipe to Tampa Bay – Air Pollution Research Reveals Impact of Cars

A comprehensive study that investigated the sources and extent of nitrogen fallout on Tampa Bay shows that cars, trucks, and other mobile vehicles deposit four times more nitrogen oxide, or NOx, in Tampa Bay than power plants.

Overall, power plants are the major sources of air emissions in the bay area. But mobile sources have a disproportionately larger impact, because emissions from cars, trucks and boats are generated closer to the ground, and more of their emissions wind up in the bay. The tall stacks of power plants, on the other hand, send emissions higher into the atmosphere, where a substantial portion is carried outside the bay watershed.

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