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

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Birth of Sea Grant

I came across this great history lesson about the "birth" of the National Sea Grant College Program and wanted to share it with you.
A Novel Idea: The idea of a Sea Grant College Program was originally suggested by oceanographer, inventor and writer, Dr. Athelstan Spilhaus at the 93rd meeting of the American Fisheries Society in 1963. Interest in the Sea Grant concept grew, much of it sparked by an editorial written by Spilhaus that appeared in a 1964 issue of Science: " I have suggested the establishment of ‘sea-grant colleges' in existing universities that wish to develop oceanic work . . . These would be modernized parallels of the great developments in agriculture and the mechanic arts which were occasioned by the Land-Grant Act of about a hundred years ago . . . Establishment of the land-grant colleges was one of the best investments this nation ever made. That same kind of imagination and foresight should be applied to exploitation of the sea."
Thus, at a time when America was excited about science in general, especially the possibility of reaping sustained economic benefits from the vast resources of the seas, national enthusiasm for the Sea Grant College concept grew. In 1965, Sen. Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island introduced legislation to establish Sea Grant colleges on campuses nationwide as centers of excellence in marine and coastal studies. With the adoption in 1966 of the National Sea Grant College Act, Congress established an academic/industry/government partnership that would enhance the nation's education, economy, and environment into the 21st century.
A Revolutionary ProgramJust as our nation's Land Grant institutions have revolutionized agriculture, so too are the Sea Grant colleges steering our nation toward the productive and sustainable use of our coastal, marine, and Great Lakes resources, through integrated programs of scientific research, education and training, and technical assistance. These programs make available a wealth of information on marine and aquatic topics—from public school curriculum materials to the most advanced scientific research. In short, Sea Grant funds high quality research that is responsive to user needs, bringing university expertise to solve today's marine environmental problems.
Taken from: (http://www.seagrant.noaa.gov/aboutsg/historyofsg.html)

If you'd like to learn more about the National Sea Grant Program visit: http://www.seagrant.noaa.gov/aboutsg/index.html

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Misunderstood Comb Jelly

Perhaps one of the most misidentified and misunderstood critters commonly found in Florida coastal waters is the comb jelly. While these gelatinous marine animals may look similar to jellyfish, they actually are not related at all to their stinging counterparts. Jellyfish (these days also known as "sea jellies" since they are not really fish) along with corals and anenomoes belong to the phylum Cnidaria (Nih-dar-e-uh). These animals are  characterized by the presence of stinging cells called nematocysts. Comb jellies, on the other hand belong to the phylum Ctenophora (Teen-a-for-a).
They have transparent, jelly-like bodies with bright, iridescent bands of color. The bands are made up of tiny hairs called combs, which divide the body into eight symmetrical areas. These "combs" help the animal swim by beating rhythmically and propelling it forward.  Unlike true jellyfish who use their stinging cells to stun and capture prey, comb jellies draw in prey (mostly planktonic organisms) by pumping water through their body cavity.

So what does this mean to the common beachgoer? Comb Jellies are HARMLESS!! Now that you know they can't harm you, feel free to examine them up close. Keep in mind though, that they do easily break apart when taken out of the water. One of the best ways to examine them up close is to put them in a clear container so that you can view them whole. This also allows you to see the beautiful irridescent colors associated with their beating combs. Many species of comb jellies are also biolunenescent, which means they can produce their own light. They often emit a soft glowing color which can easily be seen at night time!
comb jellies are commonly found along Florida's coastal and marine waters. Pick one up!

Want to learn more?

Image credit: NOAA

Additional Resources
Rhode Island Sea Grant Fact Sheet on Jellyfish

Chesapeake Bay Field Guide

NOAA Ocean Explorers- "Surprises from Comb Jellies in the Arctic"

University of Californial Museum of Palentology-Introduction to Ctenophora

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recording: Florida Stone Crab Webinar

Did you know that it IS legal to remove both claws of a stone crab if they both meet the minimum size limit of 2 3/4 inches?
Want to know more?

Today my colleague Dr. Lisa Krimsky, the Miami-Dade Sea Grant Extension Agent and I hosted our sixth session of our Florida Seafood Sustainability and Safety Brown Bag Webinar Series-Florida's Stone Crab Fishery. The goals of today's webinar are:

1. Increase participant's knowledge of the basic biology and ecology of Florida stone crabs
2. Enhance participant's understanding of the trends, importance, and management of the commercial stone crab fishery.
3.Make participants more informed consumers about the purchasing and handling of stone crabs.

To view the webinar recording click HERE
 (You might get a message that blocks you from downloading the webinar; you will need to click on "allow" to let your computer download the presentation)

Please ensure you are able to connect to Elluminate by visiting:
http://support.blackboardcollaborate.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=8336&task=knowledge&questionID=1251 and following the directions for first time users.
If you have connection problems, please contact Ron Thomas with UF/IFAS distance education at http://icsde.ifas.ufl.edu/contact-us.shtml

We want to know what you think!
To help us improve future webinars, we would greatly appreciate your input by completing a short online evaluation about the presentation.

Recordings of Past Webinars
If you would like to watch a recording of past webinar sessions in our Florida Seafood Sustainability and Safety Brown Bag Webinar Series click HERE.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Santa Lucia Reef Clean Up

Today my colleagues and I conducted an underwater clean up on the Santa Lucia Reef as part of the 2012 International Coastal Clean Up. This is the third year we've coordinated  our efforts to help clean up this reef. The Santa Lucia is one of Collier County's most heavily utilized artificial reefs; it is only two miles from Gordan Pass and sits in approximately 30 feet of water. It is a popular stopping spot to cast net bait and is heavily fished as well. It is an old Cuban turtle boat topped with large concrete pilings that create extensive relief and structure for fish. Unfortunately, this configuration also results in a lot of cast nets and line getting caught up on the site, which can serve as a hazard to marine life, fishermen, and divers.  Using lift bags and baskets we removed about a dozen and a half cast nets, three boat anchors, a fishing pole, several beer bottles, and a hefty load of fishing line, tackle, and rope. As usual, the visibility wasn't great to begin with, and removing nets and other debris only made it worse. On top of that, there was a heavy presence of stinging nettles jellyfish around us, which made the clean up effort that more exciting!!! Even with these conditions, we still saw lots of cool fish such as snook, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, goliath grouper, gag grouper, spadefish, belted sandfish, porkfish, lizzardfish, Gulf flounder, Spanish mackerel, barjacks, tomtates, and bandtail buffer.
This effort could not have happened without the help and support from the following groups
  • Collier County Coastal Zone Management
  • Collier CountyEnvironmental Services 
  • Collier County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit,
  • City of Naples Natural Resources Department, 
  •  Rookery Bay Reserve
Thank you to all my partners for helping to keep our reefs clean!!
One of many jellyfish accompanying us today on our dive.

One of many cast nets found on the Santa Lucia

A couple of Sheepheads checking out the action as a cast net is being removed from the reef nearby.

This gives you an idea of the visibility we were dealing with on the reef.

A very heavy basket of nets and other debris being brought to the surface

Waiting for a basket to be emptied before going back down for another load.

Some of the nets brought up from the bottom

Besides cast nets, we recovered lots of fishing line and hooks.

Lift bags played an important role in bringing the collected gear topside.

Sgt. Dave Bruening, myself, Pam Keyes, and Chris D'arco following the clean up

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gulf Gag Grouper Season opens Friday!

Starting tomorrow (September 16th, 2011) Gulf recreational fishermen will get their chance to bring home gag grouper for the next two months after being closed since June. Based on updated stock assessment data, the interim gag grouper management rule established a 2011 recreational season from September 16 through November 15. The current bag limit of two gag within the four fish aggregate grouper bag limit and the minimum size of 22-inches total length will still be in effect during the two-month open season.
This interim rule was implemented earlier in the year while long-term management options were being developed. These measures are being implemented because the latest stock assessment indicates that gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico are overfished and undergoing overfishing. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, regional management councils must take immediate action to halt overfishing and rebuild affected stocks when these stocks are identified.
To learn more about the interim gag grouper rules visit:

Monday, September 12, 2011

U.S. Top 10 Favorite Seafood Products

Think back to your last seafood meal. Can you remember what you ate? Shrimp? Tuna? Salmon? If you are like a growing number of Americans, perhaps the answer is Tilapia or Panagasius.

Press Release from: Seafoodsource.com
The National Fisheries Institute recently released its Top 10 list of America’s favorite seafood products in 2010.
Eight of the top 10 spots on the list remained unchanged from 2009. But two farmed finfish species — tilapia and pangasius — continue to climb the list.

For the first time, tilapia overtook Alaska pollock to become America’s fourth most popular seafood item, at 1.45 pounds per capita in 2010, up from 1.208 pounds in 2009.

And pangasius, the catfish-like species raised primarily in Vietnam, which made its debut on the top 10 list at 0.356 pounds per capita in 2009, surpassed clams to become America’s ninth most popular seafood item, at 0.405 pounds.

The rest of the list remained unchanged, with shrimp again leading the way at 4 pounds per capita in 2010, more than one-quarter of the 15.8 pounds of seafood that the average American consumer enjoyed. That’s down slightly from 4.1 pounds in 2009.

Canned tuna held on to the No. 2 position at 2.7 pounds per capita, up from 2.5 pounds in 2009. Consumption of salmon, the No. 3-ranked species, dropped from 2.04 pounds per capita in 2009 to 1.999 pounds in 2010.

Alaska pollock came in at No. 5 at 1.192 pounds, down from 1.208 pounds in 2009, as the 2010 Bering Sea pollock quota had been cut significantly from 2009.

The next three spots belonged to catfish (0.8 pounds), crab (0.573 pounds) and cod (0.463 pounds). Rounding out the Top 10 list was clams at 0.341 pounds.

NFI’s Top 10 list came three days after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service released  its annual Fisheries of the United States report. Americans ate 15.8 pounds per capita in 2010, down from 16 pounds in 2008 and 2009 and the lowest amount since 2002’s 15.6 pounds. The agency adjusted the 2009 total, which originally came to 15.8 pounds, recalculating it to 16 pounds.

“If you look at the numbers from 2008, 2009 and now 2010, keeping in mind population growth, we’re hopeful that we’re beginning to see seafood consumption steadying, a trend that makes it poised for gains,” said NFI President John Connelly.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NOAA Releases 2010 Fisheries of the U.S. Report

Ever wonder how much seafood is landed in the United States? Today NOAA released its 2010 Fisheries of the United States Report which provides an annual snapshot of domestic  landings and values. Among other things, the report indicated U.S. commercial fishermen landed 8.2 billion pounds of seafood in 2010, valued at $4.5 billion, an increase of 200 million pounds and more than $600 million in value over 2009.The report also highlights the top U.S. ports including the leader for the 22nd consecutive year, the Alaska port of Dutch Harbor-Unalaska. For the 11th consecutive year, New Bedford, Mass., had the highest valued catch, due in large part to the sea scallop fishery.
 According to Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA's fisheries Service, "These increases in fish landings and value are good news for our nation’s fishermen and for fishing communities, where jobs depend on healthy fish stocks. We know fishermen are making sacrifices now to rebuild fish populations, and these efforts, combined with good science and management, support sustainable jobs for Americans."

Another aspect of the report highlights seafood consumption patterns in the country. In 2010, the average American ate 15.8 pounds of fish and shellfish, a slight decline from the 2009 figure of 16 pounds. Nationwide, Americans consumed 4.878 billion pounds of seafood, slightly less than the 4.907 billion pounds in 2009.On a global scale, the U.S. continues to be third-ranked for consuming fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan. Imported seafood continues to increase to help fill consumer demand - about 86 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. was imported from overseas. The U.S., however, also exports 63 percent of its domestically produced seafood, which represents an increase of four percent over 2009.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FishFAQ.. How much do you know about fish?

If there is anything I have learned as a marine extension educator it is the more I know about our coastal and marine world, the more I realize there is so much more that I need to learn! I wanted to share with you a great resource from NOAA Fisheries called FishFAQ..."A bouillabaisse of fascinating facts about fish (and other marine life)"

This site provides the answers to a wide variety of frequently asked questions relating to fish and other life from our oceans. As mentioned in the website, "The National Marine Fisheries Service (Now NOAA Fisheries Service) annually answers thousands of questions about the oceans and the life that thrives within them. On the basis of a canvass of experienced marine scientists in the Fisheries Service done in 1973 more than a hundred questions have been chosen as most representative. These are the Most Frequently Asked Questions containing some fascinating facts about fish"


What is the world's largest fish? The smallest?
The largest is the whale shark, which grows to more than 50 feet in length and may weigh several tons; second largest is the basking shark, which may measure 35 to 40 feet long. The smallest fish is the tiny goby, an inhabitant of fresh-to-brackish-water lakes in Luzon, Philippines. It seldom is longer than a half inch at adulthood, yet is so abundant it supports a fishery.

Can fish distinguish color?
Most fish are colorblind, despite the opinion of many sportfishermen. Fish can see color shadings, reflected light, shape, and movement, which probably accounts for the acceptance or rejection of artificial lures used by fishermen.

What are the commercially important shrimp on the east coast of the United States, and what are their ranges?
Three shrimp species are of primary commercial importance: Pink shrimp from Chesapeake Bay through the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies to Brazil; white shrimp from Fire Island, New York, to Cape Kennedy, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico from Pensacola, Florida, to Campeche, Mexico, in Cuba and Jamaica; brown shrimp from Massachusetts down the east coast through the Gulf of Mexico, and the West Indies to Uruguay.

I encourage you to check out the website to test your "smarts" about fish and other ocean life! You might just learn a thing or two!