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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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Florida Master Naturalist Estuary Trawl Trip

Yesterday, we wrapped up our last Florida Master Naturalist field trip for my current class. My colleague Renee Wilson from Rookery Bay NERR and I took the group on a trawling trip in the estuary. As I've said before, we are extremely fortunate to have an enthusiastic group of students who are eager to learn as much as they can. We pulled the trawl in two locations in hopes of capturing a wide variety of critters. While I'd be lying if I said they were the most diverse trawls I've pulled, we nonetheless caught some cool animals; we got spotfin mojarra, silver perch, spot, bay anchovies, polka-dot batfish, and a sheepshead as far as fish. Some of our inverts included a blue crab, many porcelain crabs, brief thumbstall squid, an unidentified nudibranch, brittle stars, comb jellies, lots of sponge pieces, sauerkraut bryozoan, a polychaete (marine worm), and some tunicates.
FMNP students working hard to pull in the net.

I discuss how the shape of a fish's body can provide important clues about its life style. (I'm holding a silver perch)

Me showing a pretty good sized spot, which is a member of the drum family.

Renee has the group look through some of sponge pieces we found to illustrate the importance of these sessile (attached, non-moving) organisms as habitat for other creatures.  The stringy stuff  beneath the sponge is actually a colonial organism called sauerkraut bryozoan (bryozoans are also referred to as moss animals)
A very large osprey nest along our route. Several of the nests had fledglings in them.

Shaking out the net before bring aboard. (Go Guy!!)

I show the group a sheepshead we caught in the net. Sheepshead are in the porgy family.

I couldn't resist showing the group the sheepshead's front teeth. They are adapted for biting off barnacles, other encrusting organisms, and of course fishermen's bait.

The catch of the day... A polka-dot batfish!!!


You can see how they get their name "polka-dot" batfish. They have modified pectoral and pelvic fins that allow them to "walk" along the bottom.

Their downward facing mouth is another clue that this is a fish that spends its time along the bottom.

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