Lend a Hand

Water quality weekly roundup!

A view from space, showing the massive bloom of algae, which looks like streaks of fluorescent paint across the surface of Lake Okeechobee. The color and physical appearance of this surface bloom is highly indicative of a toxin-producing species of cyanobacteria called Microcystis. Photo source: NASA Earth Observatory

A view from space, showing the massive bloom of algae, which looks like streaks of fluorescent paint across the surface of Lake Okeechobee. The color and physical appearance of this surface bloom is highly indicative of a toxin-producing species of cyanobacteria called Microcystis. Photo source: NASA Earth Observatory

Did you know? You can now report algae blooms through this easy to use, smart phone friendly website.

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2015 Great Bay Scallop Search – Volunteers Needed

A Scallop Searcher finds what she's looking for

A Scallop Searcher finds what she’s looking for

Great Bay Scallop Search

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

8:30 am – 2 pm

(Orientation beginning at 9am)

 GASPARILLA MARINA

Register to Participate

Join the University of Florida/Charlotte County Sea Grant Extension program, by participating in the 2015 Great Bay Scallop Search, a resource-monitoring program where volunteers snorkel, looking for scallops in select areas within Gasparilla Sound and lower Lemon Bay.  The purpose of this program is to monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population.   Reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited so reserve your spot today.  This event is designed to be a fun family event.

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Marine Life Harvesting Regulations Presentation

Recently, I’ve had several questions regarding the legality of harvesting live shells and other marine life such  as fiddler crabs, sand dollars and sea stars. In short, the recreational collection of sea shells is allowed depending on whether or not the harvested sea shell contains a living organism, the type of organism it contains, and where you will be collecting. The following presentation was prepared for county park rangers and resource managers in Collier County. The presentation addresses:

  • Jurisdiction for harvesting marine life in Florida
  • Basic license requirements

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Help Minimize Dolphin/Angler Interactions

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are a common inhabitant of southwest Florida’s bays, inlets, and estuaries. The social nature and behavior of these mammals OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmake the chances of seeing one very likely while out on the water. While seeing dolphins can enhance the quality of a trip, increased encounters between dolphins and anglers can create a negative experience for both groups.

The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP), a collaboration between the Chicago Zoological Society and Mote Marine Laboratory, has been studying bottlenose dolphins along southwest Florida’s coastline for over 40 years. The SDRP has observed that many of the dolphins that inhabit southwest Florida’s coastal waters are long-term, year-round residents. In recent years, the SDRP has documented increased incidents of dolphins stalking fishing boats, waiting for released fish, and depredating (stealing bait or catch) from fishing lines near piers and boats. In addition, SDRP has received numerous reports and feedback from local charter guides, anglers and eco-tour operators about increased incidences of dolphins approaching fishing boats.

encounter

photo credit: Kim Hull

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Calling All Volunteer Boaters and Snorkelers!

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Join the University of Florida/Charlotte County Sea Grant Extension program, by participating in the 2013 Great Bay Scallop Search, a resource-monitoring program where volunteers snorkel, looking for scallops in select areas within Gasparilla Sound and lower Lemon Bay. The purpose of this program is to monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population.

Reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited so reserve your spot today. This event is designed to be a fun family event.

Visit this link for complete details.

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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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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2012 BAY SCALLOP SUMMARY: FOR THE CHARLOTTE HARBOR ESTUARIES OF LEMON BAY & GASPARILLA SOUND

On August 4th, one hundred and thirty-seven citizen scientists participated in the 4th Annual Great Bay Scallop Search conducted in the Charlotte Harbor estuary waters of Lemon Bay and Gasparilla Sound.  The search is a way of assessing bay scallop distribution and trends in abundance over time in local waters.  This event was the first of four volunteer based scallop searches scheduled in southwest Florida.  The others occurred in Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and Pine Island Sound.

Volunteers who participated in the search attended a required training session where they received monitoring gear and instructions on how and where to sample.  The methods used are designed to provide uniform data that can be used to compare different areas of the bay, different areas of southwest Florida (Tampa to Pine Island Sound) and one year to the next.  It is important to note, volunteers do not look for every scallop in the study area, just those that fall within their narrowly defined search area.

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Scallop Searches Scheduled for August – Spots are Filling Up Fast

In past Marine Scene editions we have noted that there is encouraging evidence that bay scallops in southwest Florida may be recovering almost 40 years after their disappearance in the early 1970s. Citizens can play an important role in helping scientist document whether this trend will continue and determine the extent of recovery. To do this we need long-term data from several areas throughout southwest Florida. You can help by volunteering a fun-filled day to assist with the four scallop searches listed below.

Scallop season news: This year the scallop season extends from July 1 to September 24 (remember taking scallops is only allowed north of the Pasco-Hernando county line).  Tip: If a scallop is less than 2 inches in size, don’t take it – you won’t get much meat for your effort and it is a waste of the resource. Remember scallop harvest is limited to 2 gallons of whole scallops, so you probably won’t have too much of a problem getting your limit. I am getting reports that folks are finding scallops despite the impact of Tropical Storm Debra. You can find a bunch of good info on scallop harvesting at our Florida Sea Grant website. Info on the 2012 FFWC scallop abundance surveys can be found here.

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