Events

Register Today for Earth Day Everyday!

Earth Day comes but once a year! However, there are simple actions you can take in your daily life to contribute to the well-being of your family, your community, and your planet.

Florida Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension in Pinellas County are offering 2 Earth Day Programs-one for Youth and Family and a program for Adults.IMG_1043

On Friday, April 18th, students will learn about the habitats and critters that live in estuaries like Tampa Bay. Then, they will interact with a hands-on model of our coastal environment to learn how their actions can positively impact the Tampa Bay environment. Finally, utilizing a kill a watt meter, students can discover how much energy average household appliance use. The program best suited for children 6-12 years. Youth must be accompanied by parent or guardian. Register at https://youthearthday.eventbrite.com.

IMG_1647On Saturday, April 19th, the 3-hour hands-on workshop will include rainwater harvesting, energy conservation, and estuary-friendly living complete with 1-hour canoe excursion. Each participant will receive an Estuary to Friendly Living booklet, guide to Rain Barrels, insulated shopping bag, and home energy saving kit.  Participants may choose to purchase a completed barrel for $30, paid in advance (see ticket type). Barrel quantities are limited. Register at https://ufifasearthday.eventbrite.com.

Salty Topics: Sun-Eating Sea Slugs

seaslug.e. clarkiDr. Skip Pierce, University of South Florida Department of Integrative Biology,  will present “Sun Eating Sea Slugs” Thursday, April 3rd at the Salty Topics Marine Research Series at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive Northeast, Saint Petersburg, FL 33702.

Sea slugs (not at all related to garden slugs) are a group of beautifully-colored species found mostly in shallow tropical seas.  Many slugs have formed a unique relationship with their food. Algae, a plant which thrives off of the sun for survival, is the most common diet for the sea slugs. The slugs have the capability to retain the algae’s chloroplasts and keep them up and running for energy. Some sea slug species can last for a year without ever eating food because they “eat the sun”.

Skip Pierce earned his Ph. D.  from Florida State University in1970. He has been working on chloroplast symbiosis in sea slugs for about 20 years. He is currently working in Hong Kong, the Florida Keys, and the Caribbean Sea.

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“Are You Smarter than a Stone Crab?”April 29th: Marco Island

Slide1Help spread the word!

The next “Are You Smarter than a Stone Crab” tour will be Tuesday, April 29th. I’m excited to be working with Kirk Fish Company in Goodland, FL for the tour. The Kirks are a multi-generation Florida fish family with lots of knowledge and experience.
The program is a great opportunity to learn about stone crab biology, the management of the fishery as well as its economic and cultural importance to the region. Of course you get to eat stone crab too!
Space is limited so register today. http://2013stonecrabtour.eventbrite.com/

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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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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Scientists respond to Pilot Whale Deaths in southwest Florida

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Image credit: NOAA

The stranding and deaths of dozens of short-finned pilot whales off Kice Island in Collier County has made multiple headlines recently. Scientists from NOAA fisheries in coordination with Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Rookery Bay Reserve, Marine Animal Rescue Society, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Collier County Sheriff Office have coordinated to respond to these stranding.

In an attempt to learn how the whales died, scientists conducted what is known as a necropsy, which is an autopsy for animals, on several of the whales. Besides investigating potential causes of death, necropsies provide important insight into the whales’ life history such as their age, size, weight, sex, and whether they are sexually mature. Often this kind of information is difficult to determine when the animal is alive. Scientists can compare this information to other stranding records they have for short-finned pilot whales to learn more about the species and what might be contributing to these events.

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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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New Geologic Discovery in the Florida Middle Ground

USGS Florida Middle Grounds Colm O'Reilly Spree Expeditions, Inc.The Florida Middle Ground is a set of ridges that lie in 85-165 feet of water, approximately 120 miles northwest of Tampa Bay. The Florida Middle Ground is a fisherman’s paradise. The complex structure of ridges and valleys far from shore attract marine life including fish and invertebrates. Until recently, scientists believed that the ridges are a relict coral reef

However, a 2010 US Geological Survey (USGS) expedition uncovered a different story.  Join us for Salty Topics on Thursday, December 5th at 6:45pm as Chris Reich, USGS, shares the new discover in the Florida Middle Ground! Salty Topics is at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702. Register online at http://floridamiddleground.eventbrite.com/

Underwater drilling at 85 feet revealed that the core of the eastern ridge of the Florida Middle Ground complex consists of muddy sand that is capped by a 12-ft-thick sequence composed primarily of a single species of marine snail (Vermetid gastropods). The worm rock formed between 8,200 and 8,900 years ago.

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Sea Level Rise Expert brings Science to Public Audience

chambersClimate Change and associated Sea Level Rise are complex topics. To interpret the science, the Salty Topics Marine Research Seminar Series is pleased to present Dr. Don Chambers, University of South Florida College of Marine Science, presenting “Sea Level Rise: What do We Know?”

The program will begin at 6:30pm, Thursday, November 7th with light refreshments & a viewing of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program King Tide Traveling Photo Exhibit. The series is hosted at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33702. Register online at https://sealevelrise2013.eventbrite.com/.

Dr. Chambers will discuss the various tools that have been used to observe sea level rise since the early 1700s and present a summary of what we know about sea level rise, especially new insight gleaned from nearly global satellite and in situ measurements over the last two decades. We will discuss the relationship of sea level rise to climate change and the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets and discuss what we still need to understand in order to make more accurate predictions for future sea level rise.

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Join the Community Discussion about Climate Change

hands holding up globeSea level rise, shifting seasons and extreme weather are some of the climate change buzzwords that have become increasingly common. But do we really understand what they mean or how they will impact our lifestyles? Two forums are being held that will engage the public in a conversation about these important issues. You are invited to join the discussion.

“Climate: Change the Conversation” will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center in St. Petersburg.  A second forum will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the St. Petersburg College, Fine Arts Auditorium in Tarpon Springs.

The program will include an introductory presentation and small group discussion about the potential effects of climate change in the Tampa Bay region. Each interactive station will highlight one local aspect of climate change and its associated impacts.

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