Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

Search This Blog

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aquatic Species Collecting Workshop at Mote Marine Laboratory

Yesterday, I was up in Sarasota helping to facilitate an  Aquatic Species Collecting Workshop at Mote Marine Laboratory. Tim Oldread,  who is the Director for School and Public Programs at Mote was the lead instructor, and kind enough to let me tag along. This fall I plan to begin offering the workshop in Naples, but first had to "co-facilitate" a session with an experienced facilitator. The aquatic species collection permit is offered through FWC and the Florida Marine Science Educators Association and is an excellent opportunity to Florida educators to collect and possess aquatic species for their classrooms or programs.
The workshop is available to certified Florida teachers and/or employees of educational centers.  Certificate holders are eligible to collect specified aquatic species for educational purposes that would be restricted under fishing license guidelines. This Educator Certification is valid for 3 years.

During the training workshop, participants discuss collecting alternatives, benefits, collection and transport techniques, methods to minimize environmental impact, restrictions imposed by the Collecting Certificate, available resources, and related activities. Its also a great opportunity to meet and network with other educators!!!Yesterday, we concluded the workshop by doing a little sampling of our own using seine and dip nets. Some of our catch included pinfish, mojarras, pipefish, emerald parrotfish, spot, planehead filefish, shrimp, and blue crabs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

State of the Coast Website!

Have you ever wondered how many people live along the coast, how vulnerable our state's shorelines are to sea level rise,  or what kind of economic impacts our coastal communties generate? If so, check out this site! Recently NOAA launched its State of the Coast Website. The purpose of this site is to highlight the crucial importance of healthy coastal ecosystems to a robust U.S. economy, a safe population, and a sustainable quality of life for coastal residents.

NOAA's State of the Coast offers quick facts and more detailed statistics through fifteen interactive indicator visualizations that provide highlights of what we know about coastal communities, coastal ecosystems, the coastal economy, and how a changing climate might impact the coast. Explore topics such as changes in coastal population from 1970 to 2040, the impact coastal areas have on the U.S. economy, the overall health of the U.S. coast, and the vulnerability of our coasts to long term sea level rise.

Florida Master Field Trip to Keewaydin Island!

On Saturday I took my Florida Master Naturalist Class out to Keewaydin Island. It was a great opportunity to discuss barrier island ecology and explore some of the habitats found there. We did a walking transect of the island; first  first walked through a tidal creek and got up close and personal with our local mangrove species. Next we traversed through a coastal strand habitat being careful not to step on any prickly pear cacti or sand spurs! Finally, we checked out the dunes and associated vegetation and did a little self exploration on one of the most beatiful beaches in SW Florida. It was a great trip, and am looking forward to the next one.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Caution Advised when Making Legal Decisions Relating to Damages from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Gulf Coast residents have been the targets of aggressive advertising campaigns by law firms seeking clients for litigation related to the oil spill. Thomas Ruppert Esq., the Coastal Planning Specialist with the Florida Sea Grant College Program, has compiled a useful advisory for Gulf residents considering legal action against BP. Although Gulf Coast residents are entitled to compensation from BP and other responsible parties for certain losses, claimants should exercise caution to ensure initial actions do not affect future legal rights. You do not need to be in a hurry, because by law you have at least three years to file a claim. Taking time to weigh options carefully before acting will not result in lost legal rights. Acting hastily could limit your ability to secure temporary financial assistance. Click here to learn more details.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trawling with the Collier Sheriff's Teen Acadamy

                                                       I spent my morning out in the estuary pulling some  trawls with a group of high school student selected to be apart of a leadership program put on by the Collier County Sheriff's Department. We had about 42 students come out with us in two shifts. They were a great group. We saw lots of birds including snowy and great egrets, white ibis, brown pelican, least tern, black skimmer, osprey, and roseate spoonbill. We also saw several dolphins and a manatee. Unfortunately, we didn't get a lot diversity in the trawls. The comb jellies were thick, and in fact, ended up smothering a lot of the smaller fish (mostly mojarras) we caught. One of my favorite catches was an Oscillated Flounder. Unlike the more common Gulf Flounder we get that has 3 oscillated spots on its dorsal side, this one has 4. Other items brought up included 9-armed sea star, banded brittle star, porcelain crab, glass shrimp, ragged sea hare, colonial tunicate and a species of swimming crab.  Not a bad way to spend my morning! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Florida Master Naturalist Coastal Module Underway!!

Last night I started teaching  the coastal module of the Florida Master Naturalist Program. I'm collaborating with my colleauges from Rookery Bay to teach the class. Looks like we have a great group that's eager to learn. This is one of the reasons why I love teaching this course. After introductions, paperwork (liability forms, pre tests) and a course overview we covered basic interpretation techniques and general coastal ecology. We meet again tonight.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Got Questions about Florida Seafood Availability? New Hotline Established

As a result of the Gulf oil spill, there is growing confusion about the availability of commercially harvested seafood in Florida retail stores and restaurants. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has implemented a new toll-free hotline at 1-800-357-4273 to provide consumers with current information about the status of Florida's open and closed fishing harvest areas, the availability of seafood varieties, and general pricing information. The hotline will be updated daily with new information useful to consumers.
Information included on the hotline will also be added to the Department's seafood web site http://www.FL-Seafood.com where consumers can also find links to other pertinent websites.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

4-H Mini-Marine Science Workshop

On Friday, June 4th I partnered up with Karen Blyler, who is the state marine education coordinator for 4-H, and Dr. Mike Spranger, Florida Sea Grant Extension Director (and my boss) to hold a marine science workshop for the Gulf Coast Gators 4-H Club. We had about 20 kids participate. Unfortunately, I had to miss the field session held at Tigertail Beach, but was able to catch up with the group at Rookery Bay later in the day. We had a great time! Students investigated oyster clumps and their inhabitants, learned about fish anatomy and adaptations by examining fake and dead specimens (I opened up a bonnethead shark so they could see its internal anatomy-we found several crabs and a shrimp in its stomach), practiced casting and catching "backyard seabass", tested their Florida fishing regulations knowledge, and compared,contrasted, and discussed the origions of animal, plant,and mandmade artifacts found at the beach. Needless to say, by the end of the day we were all worn out!! Thanks for a great time!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

New UF/IFAS Publication: "Effects of Oil Spills on Marine and Coastal Wildlife"

I wanted to make you aware of a great resource that just came out by Dr. Holly K Ober,assistant professor and Extension specialist with the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. The 4-page fact sheet provides an overview of direct and indirect effects of oil spills on wildlife, factors influencing the degree of impact, susceptibility of various types of wildlife, and the history of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. You can access the fact sheet by copying and pasting the following link:http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW33000.pdf
(photo credit: Kim Bassos-Hull, Mote Marine Lab)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Great Goliath Grouper Count (Day 2)

Today my colleagues and I continued our Goliath Grouper surveys by going offshore. We had a slight change of plans though. We ended up only sampling 2 sites instead of 3, but had great dives and saw lots of goliath grouper at each site. We went to the R-tower and an old shrimp trawler callled the Gravy Train. Unfortunately, my camera case flooded and I didn't get to take a single picture(RIP camera). Fortunately, Katie Laakonen had my back and took plenty of pictures for me. Enjoy Katie's pictures!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2010 Great Goliath Grouper Count (Day 1)

Today my colleagues from the City of Naples Natural Resource Department, Collier County Coastal Zone Management, and the Collier Sheriff's Office began our surveys for the Great Goliath Grouper Count (GGGC). We split up into two research teams and each surveyed three artificial reef sites. My group surveyed the Santa Lucia, Gordan 4.5 Mile, and Doctors Pass 4.5 mile reefs and saw about 25 goliath grouper. Below are some pictures and video of today's surveys. The GGGC is a Florida Sea Grant pilot project that will provide a regional snapshot of goliath grouper size distribution and minimum abundance values for designated nearshore and offshore artificial reefs in Southwest Florida. Project partners will sample approximately 60 sites between Collier and Pinellas Counties within a 5-day period. The goal of the project is provide a unique survey of a large number of sites in a short period of time that is beyond the resources of scientists working alone in an attempt to provide them with additional data on goliath grouper distribution in the region. Enjoy the pictures!