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, 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