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

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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Are You Smarter than a Stone Crab Tour: April 9th, 2015

Dostone crab flyer you love to eat stone crab claws? Would you like to learn more about the stone crab industry? Join the Florida Sea Grant Agent in Collier County for another “Are you Smarter than a Stone Crab?” Tour on April 9th, 2015.  We will visit Kirk Fish Company in Goodland, Fl. Note the tour will start at the Marco Island Library. To register visit:


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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2015 Southwest Florida Fisheries Regulations & Management Workshop

Do you know . . . fisheries regulations workshop

  • What fishing regulations have changed since last year?
  • The latest on goliath grouper research?
  • How to identify local marine fish?

Florida Sea Grant Extension in Lee and Collier Counties  & Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement are pleased to announce their 6th annual

Southwest Florida Marine Fisheries Regulations and Management Workshop

 January 20, 2015 from  9:00 AM—12:30 PM.

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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

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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Join us for a ‘For-Hire’ Fishing Workshop

for hire workshop_print

Volunteer Boater & Snorkelers Needed

Join the University of Florida/Charlotte County Sea Grant Extension program, by participating in the 2014 Great Bay Scallop Search on July 26th, 2014. The search is a resource-monitoring program where volunteers snorkel, looking for scallops in select seagrass areas. The purpose of this program is to monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population.

For more information about the event or to register click here 

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

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

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.