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.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Another Successful Florida Master Naturalist Field Trip: Trawling in Rookery Bay

I wasn't sure if the weather was going to cooperate, but we ended up having a great boat ride for our last Florida Master Naturalist field trip last night. It doesn't hurt that we have  a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable class, which always makes a field trip even better!!
We took out one of Rookery Bay's mullet skiffs to do some trawling  and examine local marine life up close. We pulled a small otter trawl, which is a type of fishing net that is dragged along the bottom behind the boat(FYI we have a perrmit to do it, and we don't trawl in areas with sensitive bottom habitats such as oysters or seagrass-we trawl over sandy/muddy bottom where there is an active current) . The mouth of the net is held open by two large wooden "doors" that are attached to either side of the net, and kept a apart by the water pressure. In front of the net opening is a  metal "tickle" chain that drags along the bottom and spooks up critters into the net.
We ended up doing 2 trawl and brought aboard several critters including a sea nettle jellyfish, a  9-armed sea star, banded brittle stars, brief squid, snapping shrimp, mojarras, hardheaded catfish, lane snapper, porcelain crabs, mud crabs, tunicates, comb jellies, slipper shells, encrusting bryozoans, sauerkraut bryozoans, and sponge pieces.

After the trawls we visited an active bird rookery in Rookery Bay proper. It was quite a site-dozens of egrets, ibis, pelicans, cormorants and herons congregating on a tiny mangrove island! I know the picture of the rookery isn't that great, but we made sure to keep a respectable distances from it so as not to disturb the birds. We actually had great bird sitings all evening: roseate spoonbills, black and yellow crowned night herons, green herons, great and snowy egrets, tri-colored herons, 1 pilleated woodpecker,  least terns, black skimmers, etc!

We were also fortunate to have one heck of a sunset  accompany our boat trip !! No sense in trying to describe it, I'll just show it to you!!!!! If this isn't a reason to take this course, I don't know what is!!!

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