All posts by Tim Nelson

Join the Sea Urchin Roundup#2 – September 25th

Participate in the Sea Urchin Roundup #2  on Saturday, September 25, 2021

The FDEP/Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves and FWC/FWRI are hosting the St. Joseph Bay Urchin Roundup#2 on Saturday September 25th. We are looking to recruit volunteers to help collect urchins to relocate out to deeper water to help reduce grazing pressure on seagrasses in St. Joseph Bay.

Check-in is at the Frank Pate Public Boat Ramp in Port St. Joe.  We will also have a registration tent and outreach tent at Frank Pate Boat Ramp all day for the event.

Bring your own boat, gloves and snorkeling gear and join us in removing sea urchins from seagrass beds! We will provide maps and gps locations showing where to collect urchins and buckets to put them in. Return buckets filled with urchins to our check-in station and get some swag. We will relocate the urchins to deeper water away from seagrass.

Check-in begins at 8:00 AM, and all urchins must be turned in by 5:00 PM. Please check in with an FWC or DEP employee to get your bucket and sign a volunteer waiver. Urchins should be returned in this bucket with seawater to be safely relocated by FWC or DEP employees.

St. Joseph Bay, located in Gulf County in the Panhandle, once contained extensive beds of seagrass and supported an abundant scallop fishery. Residents and visitors enjoyed extensive, pristine seagrass beds and clear bay waters. Summertime recreational scallop harvesting contributed greatly to the local economy. Seagrass beds in the bay are dominated by turtle grass which also provide food for abundant green sea turtles. The scallop fishery has become depleted in recent years, algal blooms are more frequent, and the acreage of seagrass beds has decreased. An overabundance of sea urchins (Lytechinus spp.) continues to destroy turtle grass beds through overgrazing. This project will jump start natural recovery of seagrass by installing exclosures over grazed areas to allow seagrasses to grow back without sea urchin grazing pressure. In addition, sea urchin roundups, public outreach events, will involve citizens to remove sea urchins from active grazing fronts. The animals will be released in deeper areas of the bay at a distance from grazed areas.

This project is a partnership between FWRI and the Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Staff from both agencies are maintaining the exclosures, monitoring the abundance of sea urchins quarterly, assessing sea grass abundance by in-water and mapping surveys, and measuring water quality monthly.

Join the Sea Urchin Roundup – May 22nd

Participate in the Sea Urchin Roundup on May 22, 2021

The FDEP/Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves and FWC/FWRI are hosting the St. Joseph Bay Urchin Roundup on May 22nd. We are looking to recruit volunteers to help collect urchins to relocate out to deeper water to help reduce grazing pressure on seagrasses in St. Joseph Bay. See the information flyer.

Check-in is at the Frank Pate Public Boat Ramp in Port St. Joe.  We will also have a registration tent and outreach tent at Frank Pate Boat Ramp all day for the event.

Bring your own boat, gloves and snorkeling gear and join us in removing sea urchins from seagrass beds! We will provide maps and gps locations showing where to collect urchins and buckets to put them in. Return buckets filled with urchins to our check-in station and get some swag. We will relocate the urchins to deeper water away from seagrass.

Check-in begins at 8:00 AM, and all urchins must be turned in by 5:00 PM. Please check in with an FWC or DEP employee to get your bucket and sign a volunteer waiver. Urchins should be returned in this bucket with seawater to be safely relocated by FWC or DEP employees.

Rain date is June 5, 2021.

St. Joseph Bay, located in Gulf County in the Panhandle, once contained extensive beds of seagrass and supported an abundant scallop fishery. Residents and visitors enjoyed extensive, pristine seagrass beds and clear bay waters. Summertime recreational scallop harvesting contributed greatly to the local economy. Seagrass beds in the bay are dominated by turtle grass which also provide food for abundant green sea turtles. The scallop fishery has become depleted in recent years, algal blooms are more frequent, and the acreage of seagrass beds has decreased. An overabundance of sea urchins (Lytechinus spp.) continues to destroy turtle grass beds through overgrazing. This project will jump start natural recovery of seagrass by installing exclosures over grazed areas to allow seagrasses to grow back without sea urchin grazing pressure. In addition, sea urchin roundups, public outreach events, will involve citizens to remove sea urchins from active grazing fronts. The animals will be released in deeper areas of the bay at a distance from grazed areas.

This project is a partnership between FWRI and the Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Staff from both agencies are maintaining the exclosures, monitoring the abundance of sea urchins quarterly, assessing sea grass abundance by in-water and mapping surveys, and measuring water quality monthly.

 

Friends Held Annual Meeting

The Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves held their annual meeting January 18th at the Buffer Preserve. Attendees were updated on the state of the Preserves post Michael. Dylan Shoemaker, Buffer Preserve Manager, reported on the efforts to clean up and repair damage to the land and buildings. Jonathan Brucker, Aquatic Preserve Manager, outlined ongoing testing of water quality in the bay and other locations as well as shoreline restoration and cleanup.
Lynda White, President of the Friends Board of
Directors, thanked the Friends for their support and encouraged everyone to get the word out that Bay Day is back, better than ever, on February 8th.   Lynda White

Tram Tours running again!


Beginning Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
And continuing on each THIRD Thursday of the month.

We’re so excited to have our tram tours running again! Space is limited so please email our Environmental Specialist Sophia Fonseca to reserve your spot. Be sure to include how many individuals are attending.  Send Email

The tour is open wagon with no roof. Please bring hats and sunglasses to protect from the sun. The tour will begin on Treasure Road across the street from the Preserve Center. Looking forward to seeing you!  Learn More

Our Friends group land donation has made the news!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 24, 2019
Land Donated to State of Florida in Gulf County
~Donation will preserve undeveloped tracts of land for native plants and animals~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands, acting on behalf of the
Governor and the Board of Trustees, announces the donation of a valuable piece of conservation land to the St. Joseph Bay State
Buffer Preserve in Gulf County. The 7.23 acre-property was donated by the Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves. This land is part of the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Florida Forever Project.
“This land will help protect one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in northwest Florida and one of the least disturbed coastal
bay systems statewide,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “We thank the Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves for their donation,
partnership and dedication to protecting Florida’s unique natural resources.”
“Acquiring these lots will be very beneficial to the Buffer Preserve. Our staff constantly monitors the natural habitats of many plants and animals,” said St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserves manager Dylan Shoemaker. “This acreage contains wetlands that are extremely
important to cleaning waters which drain to the bay.”
Managed by DEP’s Office of Reslience and Coastal Protection, St. Joseph Bay Buffer Project will protect the water quality and
productive seagrass beds of the bay by protecting the undeveloped land around it, ensuring the survival of dozens of rare plants. The
land will become a buffer while providing opportunities for the public to enjoy the natural beauty of the bay.
“As President, and along with the entire Board, we are thrilled to be able to purchase these lots,” said President of Friends of the St.
Joseph Bay Preserves Lynda F. White. “One of our major goals has been to assist in every way possible to increase the Preserves’ acreage. By doing so, we are investing in the future of St. Joseph Bay and St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve.”
Florida Forever is the state’s conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving our natural resources and renewing our commitment to conserve our natural and cultural heritage. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands is Florida’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship.

Lester Stars at Turtle Fest

John Ehrman, Lynda White and Lester the Loggerhead

The Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserves were well represented at the 3rd Annual Sea Turtle Festival on Sunday, July 1st. Even though it rained most of the day, there were many tourists and residents who stopped by to learn more about the Buffer and Aquatic Preserves.
Lester the Loggerhead, our education ambassador for sea turtles, enabled us to educate visitors about these remarkable creatures nesting on our beaches.  Lynda White