Sea Grant Notes – Feb 21, 2020

February 21, 2019 Sea Grant Notes



As many know, there has been an increase in manatee sightings across the area. The Escambia County Extension Office, working with Escambia County Division of Marine Resources, will be tracking these sightings to determine when, where, and how often these animals are in our area.

If you see a manatee please contact me at the County Extension office (850-475-5230 ext. 111) or email me at



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.




Feb 23-29.

Air Potato Round-Up – we are asking the community to deliver the bulbils of the invasive air potato to the Escambia County Extension Office during the week of Feb 24-28. There will 5-gallon buckets at the front office where you can place them. Please keep them dry. Not sure what they look like? Contact Rick O’Connor at Escambia County Extension and we will send photos.



Will be giving a presentation on this brackish water turtle at the Navarre Beach Visitors Center at Navarre Park – Hwy 98.

Feb 24

9:00 AM



UF IFAS Extension is working with Florida State University / Panama City and Explore Northwest Florida to coordinate their first Northwest Florida Nature Tourism Summit in Panama City.

Feb 25, 2020

$20 registration

There will be speaker tracks for ecotourism business owners and those interested in getting started, as well as students and outdoor enthusiasts. UF IFAS Extension will have a booth on the Florida Master Naturalist Program and have offered to serve as speakers as they finalize their list.

Ecotourism Summit Registration Link:

More about Explore Northwest Florida:



Feb 29 – Gulf Islands National Seashore / Naval Live Oaks – 1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Removing beach vitex along the shoreline. Contact Rick O’Connor at the Escambia County Extension Office for more information.




2020 EMBRACE THE GULF – The Reptiles


2020 YEAR OF THE TURTLE – The Softshells


Safe Boating Tip of the Month – Reducing impacts on aquatic plants and wildlife

National Invasive Species Awareness Week – An Opportunity for Action


Keeping “Zombie Deer” Out of Florida





Mar 6

10:00 – 12:00 for schools

12:00 – 4:00 for public

Shoreline Park South

This will be the 20th year for this great event.

This year schools will participate from 10:00 until Noon.

Open to the public from Noon until 4:00.

There will be games, activities, kayak lessons, education booths, and much more.

This family event is always fun.



Mar 6

5:30 – 8:30 PM

Roy Hyatt Environmental Center

1300 Tobias Road – Cantonment

There will be evening hikes down some of the nature trails, a bird of prey exhibit, the reptile room and planetarium will be open, and there will be telescopes set up outside. There will be a food truck and a silent auction event going on as well. This too is a popular family event.

Free – there is a charge for the food and if you win an item at the auction.



Mar 9

5:30 PM

Escambia County Central Office Complex

3363 West Park Place

Room 104



Mar 10

1:00 PM

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.



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.




Mar 19

6:00 PM

Downtown Public Library

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




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



Water Quality

Health Advisories

  • FDOH is only monitoring Bayou Texas and Sanders Beach at this time
  • Feb 17: Bayou Texar – MODERATE

Sanders Beach – GOOD

  • View all data below


  • 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 (2.6)

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 20 (FWC)
  • Panhandledetected at background levels in Bay County.
  • SW Florida – detected in Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties
  • East Coast of FL – not detected
  • No HABs reported in the panhandle this week

Fish Kills

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



Habitat Restoration

  • OCEAN HOUR Clean Ups Feb 22
  • Sanders Beach – 913 S. “I” Street
  • Bruce Beach – 601 W. Main Street

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.


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 – TBD
  • – Santa Rosa – Mar 16 – Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center – 4:00 PM
  • – Okaloosa – TBD
  • – Walton – Mar 10 – Northwest Florida State College – 1:00 PM

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.

Jan 9-13, 22

Feb 7-8

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

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

  • 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


  • National Invasive Species Awareness Week – Feb 23-29

This year we will be collecting the bulbils of the invasive air potato plant. These bulbils will be used to feed air potato beetles which are used to consume and control the invasive air potato across the state. IF you know locations of this plant (and the bulbils), PLEASE bring the bulbils to the Escambia County Extension office for collection. The bulbils should be clean and dry (do not wash – just wipe) and leave in the 5-gallon bucket provided in the front office.

  • Weed Wrangle – Feb 29

To end National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Escambia County Extension will be hosting the annual WEED WRANGLE. This national event is a day of invasive plant removals. Locally we will be removing the invasive BEACH VITEX.

Gulf Islands National Seashore – Naval Live Oaks Visitors Center

1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway

8:00 – 12:00

Please bring: close-toed shoes, protective clothing, gloves, tools (lopers, shovels), and a water bottle. YOUTH MUST BE ACCOMPAINED BY AN ADULT.

  • 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 Damselfish

  • Beach Vitex
  • Weed Wrangle – we are planning a removal workday for Feb 29 – Gulf Islands National Seashore / Naval Live Oaks – 1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway – 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM – removing beach vitex – contact Rick O’Connor at the Escambia County Extension Office for more information.
  • – 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
  • – 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 Damselfish
  • – 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.



  • Local Seafood in Peak Season for February
  • – Clams
  • – King Mackerel – safety issue with eating to much of this species; check website below
  • – 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 –



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 4 1 1 .25
Sanders Beach 2 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  

Posted: February 21, 2020

Category: Coasts & Marine, Natural Resources
Tags: Sea Grant Notes

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