Restoring Healthy Estuaries – Update
Restoring our estuary to a more healthy state is of interest to many in our community. The Sea Grant Program in Escambia County is trying to provide both education and training to help local citizens better understand what problems we have, solutions that may help mitigate them, and train citizens to assist in monitoring our bay. Here is an update for May 20, 2016.
Health advisories are issued when bacteria counts are too high. Both state and county agencies who do this monitoring have reduced their effort due to budget constraints. Here are the numbers they have logged so far this year:
Bayou Texar – sampled 13 times, 3 advisories issued (23% of the time)
Bayou Chico – sampled 5 times, 2 advisories (40% of the time)
Bayou Grande – sampled 5 times, 1 advisory (20%)
Lower Perdido Bay – sampled 6 times, no advisories issued this year
Upper Perdido Bay – samples 6 times, 1 advisory (17%)
Fish kills occur for a variety of reasons. To date only two fish kills have been reported for the Pensacola Bay area. Both were redfish. One was attributed to parasites, the other to disease.
Over 2000 plants were grown by three high school programs – Escambia High, West Florida Tech, and Pine Forest High for shoreline restoration projects in the bay. Sabine Yacht and Racquet Club also had a living shoreline put in. These living shorelines not only remove nutrients and bacteria from runoff entering the bay – they reduce shoreline erosion.
If you are interested in a living shoreline – contact Sea Grant Extension Agent Rick O’Connor at the Escambia County Extension Office.
Ocean Hour continues to remove plastic debris from our beaches for one hour each Saturday morning. The top three items have been cigarette butts, drinking containers, and food wrappers.
The Turtle Trash Bash is held at Navarre Beach the last Saturday of each month. Here they are finding a lot of plastic grocery bags.
Betsy Walker and the fishermen at Pensacola Beach Marina recently filled one of the large monofilament recycling boxes. The box was shipped to Berkley Fishing Line to be recycled into other plastic items. This is pretty cool.
The hot spot for microplastics still is Pensacola Beach and the top item are microfibers. These microfibers come from our clothing when we wash them. The best way to avoid this problem is to purchase 100% cotton material.
For more information on where Ocean Hour will be cleaning, or other information on marine debirs contact Rick O’Connor at the County Extension Office.
Some organisms in our estuary can be monitored as an indicator of the health of our bay. Scallops, terrapins, and horseshoe crabs are currently on our list. Seafood species, seagrasses, and oyster spat are on the list to be added. Those interested in training to monitor can contact Rick at the Extension Office.
Scallops – the scallop search will officially begin in late July but if you find live scallop between now and then please let Rick know.
Terrapins – we have records of terrapins and nesting in Santa Rosa County – Garcon and Navarre. No reports from Pensacola Beach or Perdido but we will continue to monitor.
Horseshoe Crabs – have been reported from Big Sabine, Bayou Grande, and Ft. Pickens. Let us know if you find some.
IF YOU GROUP IS INTERESTED IN A PRESENTATION ABOUT THE HEALTH OF OUR BAY CONTACT RICK O’CONNOR AT THE COUNTY EXTENSION OFFICE.