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Sea Grant Notes – Mar 6, 2020

March 6, 2020                                       Sea Grant Notes

 

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IS NOW MONITORING 10 SITES FOR BACTERIA IN SWIMMING WATERS IN THE PENSACOLA BAY AREA

This week all are GOOD – you can check out which sites are being monitored (and the yearly update) below.

 

SPRING TIDES RUNNING THIS WEEK – SEARCH FOR HORSESHOE CRABS

Horseshoe crabs will approach beaches during spring tides to nest.  We are searching for such locations.  It is a bit cold right now, but 2 females were seen recently near Grand Marlin so lets keep a lookout and please contact the extension office if you see any.  Spring tides this month:

March 5,6,7, and March 31

 

MANATEE WATCH

This is a reminder that we are tracking manatee sightings here at the extension office.  If you encounter one please contact us either at (850) 475-5230 ext 111, or email roc1@ufl.edu.

 

SNOOK SEARCH

We are also kicking off a Snook Search program.  After attending a recent conference, we learned that they are now all but established in the Cedar Key area and some have been reported near Apalachicola.  If anyone sees (or catches) one, please contact the extension office.

 

FLORIDA MASTER NATURALIST PROGRAM – FRESHWATER COURSE

Escambia/Santa Rosa Extension is offering the 40-hour Freshwater Course of the Florida Master Naturalist Program.  Classes will meet on Tuesdays between Mar 24 – May 12.  The course includes classroom sessions on the natural history of Florida’s Freshwater systems as well as field trips to local sites.

To view agenda and register visit – https://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/fmnp/fs20-07.html.

 

GRAY TRIGGERFISH OPENS MAR 1 THROUGH MAY 1

 

SPOTTED SEATROUT (Speckled Trout) OPENS MAR 1 IN THE WESTERN PANHANDLE

The new western panhandle zone includes state and federal waters from Escambia County to Gulf County BUT DOES NOT INCLUDE INDIAN PASS.

The bag limit for this zone is 3 fish/person/day.

 

REMOVING BATS BEFORE MATERNITY SEASON BEGINS

Bats select many different types of structures to roost in, including homes and buildings.  Residents are allowed to remove bats from their structures UNLESS it is maternity season.  This season runs from April 15 to August 15.  If you need to remove bats, you should do so before April 15.

 

THIS UPCOMING WEEK

 

SEAGRASS AWARENESS DAY!

This is the 20th Anniversary of this awesome family event.  Come out and enjoy games, activities, lessons, and education all focused on our local seagrass communities.

Mar 6

Shoreline Park South – Gulf Breeze

School visits from 10:00 – 12:00 PM

General public from 12:00 – 4:00 PM

Free

 

ROY HYATT’S NIGHT OF NATURE

This is another fun family event where kids of all ages will be able to see local reptiles, birds of prey, visit the new planetarium, star gaze outside, and participate in a night hike where educators will teaching about “creatures of the night”.  A food truck will be present and there is a silent auction as well.

Mar 6

Roy Hyatt Environmental Center – 1300 Tobias Road Cantonment

5:30 – 8:30 PM

 

RIBBON CUTTING FOR NEW INNERARITY POINT PARK

Mar 6

Innerarity Point Park – 3835 Cruzat Way

10:30 AM

 

THIS WEEKS ARTICLES

 

2020 EMBRACE THE GULF – The Birds

https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/02/21/embrace-the-gulf-2020-the-birds/.

 

2020 YEAR OF THE TURTLE – The Mud Turtles

http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/nat/.

 

New Spotted Seatrout Rules & 2020 Gulf Red Snapper Season Dates

http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/nat/.

 

Seagrass… It’s Alive!

http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/nat/.

 

 

COMING UP IN MARCH  

 

ESCAMBIA COUNTY MARINE ADVISORY MEETING  

Mar 9

5:30 PM

Escambia County Central Office Complex

3363 West Park Place

Room 104

 

PANHANDLE TERRAPIN PROJECT – SANTA ROSA COUNTY TRAINING

Mar 16

4:00 PM

Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

8740 Gulf Blvd – Navarre Beach

Sea Grant will be training local volunteers to participate in diamondback terrapin nesting surveys and tagging projects.

Free.

 

SCIENCE HOUR – WILDLIFE SANCTUARY OF NORTHWEST FLORIDA

Mar 19

6:00 PM

Downtown Public Library

This month Dorothy Kaufmann from the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida will discuss wildlife rehabilitation in the area.

Free.

 

FLORIDA MASTER NATURALIST PROGRAM – FRESHWATER COURSE

Mar 24 – May 12; each Tuesday

8:00 – 3:00

This 40-hour course will cover the plants, animals, and ecology of Florida’s freshwater environments.  In addition to class time there will be field trips to local steepheads, pitcher plant bogs, environmental centers, rivers, and the Mobile Delta.  Course fees include all materials and trips.

Fee $230 – $295 (depending on materials ordered)

Link to registration is pending; more soon

 

PANHANDLE TERRAPIN PROJECT – WALTON COUNTY TRAINING

Mar 30

11:00 AM

Northwest Florida State College

100 College Blvd. Niceville FL

Sea Grant will be training local volunteers to participate in diamondback terrapin nesting surveys and tagging projects.

Free.

 

PANHANDLE TERRAPIN PROJECT – PERDIDO KEY TRAINING

Mar 30

6:30 PM

Southwest Branch Library

12248 Gulf Beach Highway

Sea Grant will be training local volunteers to participate in diamondback terrapin nesting surveys and tagging projects.

Free.

 

Water Quality  

 

Health Advisories

  • THIS WEEK WE ADD 7 NEW STATIONS TO BE MONITORED BY FDOH.
  • Mar 2: Bayou Texar – GOOD

Sanders Beach – GOOD

Bayou Chico – GOOD

Bayou Grande – GOOD

Big Lagoon SP – GOOD

Perdido Key SP – GOOD

  • Mar 3 Casino Beach – GOOD

Park East – GOOD

Park West – GOOD

Quietwater Beach – GOOD

  • View all data below

Rainfall

  • Rainfall collected weekly from East Hill (UF IFAS)
  • 2019 rainfall total in East Hill was 47.5”. Rainfall for airport was similar.
  • Jan (4.0) Feb (2.8) Mar (0.6)

Salinity and Rainfall

  • Volunteers are monitoring salinity at 8 locations in the area to determine how excessive rainfall and run-off may be impacting water quality and restoration success. We will post quarterly results beginning April 1.

Longnose Killifish Monitoring

  • Longnose killifish (Fundulus similis) have a low tolerance for low salinity waters. The absence of this fish in selected creeks MAY indicate run-off issues.  Sampling is done quarterly, and reports will be posted.

Red Tide & Harmful Algal Blooms

  • Last report was posted Feb 28 (FWC)
  • Panhandlenot detected  
  • SW Florida – not detected
  • East Coast of FL – detected at very low concentrations in Martin and Palm Beach counties
  • On Feb 28 FDEP found Dolichospermum circinale and Microcystis wesenbergii in West Tiger Point Pond and Dolichospermum in Maplewood Creek. Samples to determine whether these algae were in fact releasing toxins were not taken.

Fish Kills

 

Marine Science Academy – Washington High School – Fish & Water Quality Data – updated

http://whs-ecsd-fl.schoolloop.com/MarineScienceAcademy.

 

 

Habitat Restoration

 

  • OCEAN HOUR Clean Ups Mar 7
  • Naval Live Oaks – Gulf Islands National Seashore – 1801 Gulf Breeze Prky
  • Bob Sikes Bridge – meet at Grand Marlin

Clean Ups begin at 9:00 and supplies are provided

  • Living Shorelines

The best time to have a living shoreline planted is the fall and winter.  Contact me if interested in learning more.    

  • SEAGRASS AWARENESS DAY – Friday March 6

This is the 20th year of this awesome event.  It will be held at Shoreline Park South in Gulf Breeze.  The fun begins at 12:00 and runs until 4:00.

There will kid activities, food, games, prizes, and educational booths to learn about our seagrass communities.

  • Seagrass Monitoring – training and dates TBA
  • Mangrove Migration – surveys for mangroves in our area will begin late spring. If you think you have found one, please contact the County Extension Office.

 

Wildlife & Fisheries

 

  • Panhandle Diamondback Terrapin Project

Seeking volunteers from Escambia to Walton County to participate in terrapin nesting surveys to help assess the status of this animal in our estuaries.

  • – Escambia Training – Mar 30 – Southwest Branch Library Gulf Beach Highway – 6:30 PM
  • – Santa Rosa – Mar 16 – Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center – 4:00 PM
  • – Okaloosa – TBD
  • – Walton – Mar 30 – Northwest Florida State College – 11:00 AM

If interested in participating, contact the Escambia County Extension office.

  • Horseshoe Crabs
  • – We are seeking sightings of horseshoe crabs in our area in hopes of finding nesting activity and participate in a tagging program. Horseshoe crabs will approach the beach during the high tides of the new and full moons each month.  They are more active in spring and fall but could any month.  Here are the full and new moons for the winter months.

Mar 5-7, 31

  • Barrier Island Snake Survey

Escambia County Extension will continue a series of snake surveys on Perdido Key to determine the frequency of occurrence for the Eastern Cottonmouth.  Surveys begin in April and quarterly reports will be posted here.

  • The Great Scallop Search

Each year the Sea Grant programs from the Escambia and Santa Rosa County Extension offices host a snorkel search for bay scallops.  Volunteers are needed and many locations require a boat to access.

  • – The Big Lagoon Scallop Search will be Saturday June 13. More details coming.
  • The Great Scavenger Hunt

To celebrate NATIONAL ESTUARIES WEEK, Escambia County Extension will be hosting The Great Scavenger where we get local volunteers to search for protected species, species of concern, invasive species, and indicator species.  This year the Scavenger Hunt will be September 12.  More details coming.

  • Manatee Watch

ESCAMBIA COUNTY IS NOT TRACKING MANATEES SEEN IN PENSACOLA BAY AREA.  If you encounter one please contact us at (850-475-5230 ext. 111) or email roc1@ufl.edu.

You can also contact Dauphin Island Sea Lab at 1-866-493-5803.

  • Snook Search

It has been reported that snook are established as far north as Cedar Key and there are reports in the panhandle area.  If you see/catch any snook please contact the Escambia County Extension Office to report location.

  • 2020 Gulf Red Snapper Season

June 11 – July 25; with a possible with a possible fall re-opening if quota allows.

  • Gulf County (Port St. Joe) 2021 Scallop Season and Beyond

Aug 16 – Sep 24

  • Removing Bats Before Maternity Season Begins

Bats select many different types of structures to roost in, including homes and buildings.  Residents are allowed to remove bats from their structures UNLESS it is maternity season.  This season runs from April 15 to August 15.  If you need to remove bats, you should do so before April 15.

 

Invasive Species

 

  • Florida Invasive Species Awareness Week – May 18-22

This year UF IFAS Extension will be providing Facebook LIVE broadcast of how to identify and remove selected local invasive species.

Monday May 18 – Feral Hogs

Tuesday May 19 – Giant Salvinia

Wednesday May 20 – Congongrass

Thursday May 21 – Air Potato

Friday May 22 – Regal Demoiselle

  • Beach Vitex
  • – If you think you may have this plant on your property and want advice on how to manage. Email me.
  • Invasive Lionfish
  • 2020 Emerald Coast Open – pre-tournament is Feb 1 – May 13. Main tournament will be May 15-17.  Registration for this event is at emeraldcoast.com.
  • – LRAD (Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day) will be the weekend of May 15-17 at Destin Harbor.
  • – Lionfish have been found near Ft. Pickens inside the pass. If anyone diving this area, or anywhere within the bay, and finds lionfish – please contact us and let us know.
  • Regal Demoiselle
  • – This is an invasive reef fish that has made its way to our area. We are currently developing an ID guide for this, and other potential invasive reef fish problems, for local divers.  More on this ASAP.
  • – If you find this fish on any of our reefs – please email me.
  • Brown (Cuban) Anole
  • – This is an invasive species that has become quite common near our coast lines. During the colder months these animals will gather under objects in the yard where they lower their heart and breathing rates awaiting spring.  This is a good time to remove them.

 

Seafood

 

  • Local Seafood in Peak Season for March
  • – Softshell Blue crab
  • – Clams
  • – Oysters
  • – Pompano
  • – Pink Shrimp
  • – Snapper – check state limits and accessibility; change frequently
  • – Spanish Mackerel
  • Seafood @ Your Fingertips – we will be offering this program in 2020; stay tuned for dates and locations
  • Seafood Safety Program – Escambia County Marine Advisory Committee meeting – Apr 13 – 5:30 PM – more information on topics coming.
  • Seafood Safety Guidelines – Escambia County Division of Marine Resources – https://www.myescambia.com/our-services/natural-resources-management/marine-resources/seafood-safety.

 

 

HEALTH ADVISORY DATA

Enterococcus bacteria count rubric for health advisories (Florida Department of Health)

 

GOOD             0-35 colonies/100ml of sample

MODERATE    36-70 colonies/100ml

POOR              71> colonies/100ml

 

Health Advisory Frequency

Data provided by the Florida Department of Health’s Healthy Beaches Program

Body of Water # of samples collected # of POOR reports # of advisories issued % frequency of advisories
Bayou Texar 6 1 1 .17
Sanders Beach 4 0 0 .00
Bayou Chico 1 0 0 .00
Bayou Grande 1 0 0 .00
Big Lagoon SP 1 0 0 .00
Perdido Key SP 1 0 0 .00
Casino Beach 1 0 0 .00
Park East 1 0 0 .00
Park West 1 0 0 .00
Quietwater Beach 1 0 0 .00

 

 

Fish Kill Data provided by FWC

Month # of Fish Kills reported # of Dead Fish reported Cause
Jan 0 0  
Feb 0 0  
Mar 0 0