Tag Archives: seagrass

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.

 

Scars Hurt Signs Are Up

Boat Launch at Frank Pate Park, Port St. Joe

Jon Brucker, Manager of the Aquatic Preserve, suggested a set of new signs from the Be Seagrass Safe organization to attract boaters’ attention to the need to protect seagrass in the St. Joseph Bay. The large, colorful signs were purchased by the Friends and installed by Aquatic Preserves staff at  popular boat launch sites.
The seagrass growing in the St. Joseph Bay is mostly the type called turtle grass. It provides shelter for small salt water animals and for young, growing fish and shellfish. It is also a favorite food source for juvenile green sea turtles.

Friends Post Signs to Protect Seagrass

John Brucker, Manager of the Aquatic Preserve, suggested a set of new signs from the Be Seagrass Safe organization to attract boaters’ attention to the need to protect seagrass in the St. Joseph Bay. The large, colorful signs will be purchased by Friends and installed by Aquatic Preserves staff at three popular boat launch sites: George Pate Park in downtown Port St. Joe, Presnell’s Landing on State Road 30A (if the owner permits), and St. Joseph Peninsula State Park at Eagle Harbor.
The seagrass growing in the St. Joseph Bay is mostly the type called turtle grass. It provides shelter for small salt water animals and for young, growing fish and shellfish. It is also a favorite food source for juvenile green sea turtles.

Annual Meeting News & Reports

Annual Membership Meeting, January 7
First, the nearly 30 members present voted by acclamation to install two new Directors on the Board. They are Linda Palma and Tim Nelson. Both Linda and Tim spend a lot of time volunteering at the
Buffer center, helping with ongoing projects and creating new enhancements for the Visitor Center. Among their many contributions, Linda has recorded a self-guided audio tour of the exhibits by Sandra  Chafin, now available any time in the Visitor Center. Tim and Allix North have produced a beautiful drone fly-over tour of the Buffer Preserve. You can watch it on the television in the Visitor Center.

A $500 check from the Florida Scallop and Music Festival of Port St. Joe was presented by Guerry Magidson, Chairman of the Board of Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, to Friends President Lynda
White.

Buffer Preserve Manager Dylan Shoemaker presented a PowerPoint talk on the issues facing the Buffer Preserve this year. He reminded us that the mandate of the Preserves is “To Conserve and Protect.” Six current issues were discussed:
I. Restoring the hydrology (natural water flow) within the Buffer’s three watersheds. The focus now is on the Money Bayou watershed.
II. Protecting plant and animal resources.
III. Controlling invasive species, both plants and animals.
IV. Protection of the 18 cultural and historical archaeological sites in the Preserve.
V. Promoting conservation and responsible use of the natural area by the public. The Preserve has recently added a new staff member, Shana Hale, who specializes in education and outreach.
VI. Promoting scientific research that contributes to conservation and protection of native ecosystems.

Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves Manager Jonathan Brucker presented a talk about current projects of the Aquatic Preserves. Volunteer opportunities were emphasized. Aquatic Preserves volunteers are needed to help with water quality monitoring in the four bays, St. Joseph Bay, Apalachicola Bay, Alligator Harbor, and St. Andrews Bay. The water is tested for nutrients and for harmful algal blooms. Volunteers may also help with seagrass monitoring at around 25 sites in St. Joseph Bay and others in Alligator Harbor and Apalachicola Bay. If you want to volunteer, please email Jonathan.Brucker@dep.state.fl.us , or call the Aquatic Preserves, 850-670-7723.
Several important restoration projects are underway in the bays of the Preserves. Seagrass restoration is an important one since many marine animals depend on the seagrass. Scars in seagrass beds will be filled in using a sediment tube method, beginning this summer, and 49 buoys have been deployed to prevent motor boats entering shallow areas of the bays. Other restoration projects include oyster clutch replacement and the Living Shoreline Project, funded by BP oil spill payments, which will add beneficial vegetation along shorelines.