Archive for ‘conservation’

March 28, 2012

Make Way for the Crabs!

The horseshoe crabs are back into spawning season and FWCC is asking, once again, for sharp eyed naturalists to keep an eye out for mating pairs and satellite males.  New and full moons, along with the high tide, tend to be the best days to view the animals as they emerge onto the beach to dig, lay, and fertilize their delicate eggs.  The upcoming full moon on April 6th will likely be a day for high activity, particularly with the warm welcoming weather we’ve been experiencing in Florida lately.

You can report sightings online or even email findings to horseshoe@myFWC.com.  Pay particular attention to details like:

  • Number of crabs, whether paired or satellite males near a paired couple
  • How big the animals are (4″ or less is a juvenile)
  • Date, Time, Location, Habitat type, and Weather Conditions (including moon phase) where you observed them

I’m hoping to catch some crabs in action this weekend near my usual stomping grounds on the Indian River Lagoon.  As ever, I’ll be out on trash pickup duty, and hope to have some photos for curious readers to see exactly how the debris situation has improved (or worsened) since I was last out in the fall.

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August 23, 2011

More On that Penguin Spill in 2000

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August 17, 2011

Awaiting the Spawn

Lunar cycles have a profound effect on the timing of events, often ones involving reproduction, in wildlife.

In the winter times in the Caribbean we have Grouper Moons, and in the late summer, we hold our breaths waiting for the coral to spawn a few days following a full moon.  We had such a full moon on August 13th, and researchers all across the Caribbean are camped out waiting, taking measured breaths on SCUBA tanks hoping to prolong their bottom time, to see the release of eggs and gametes from the coral heads.

So far, not a single watched site from Florida, to Mexico, to the farthest fringe of the Western Atlantic islands, has documented any spawning event.  SECORE, a group of researchers including professional aquarists from Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii, are one such group watching a patch of reef in Curacao, hoping to secure samples of coral larvae for later work in laboratory conditions involving rearing the little ones.  Another group from the University of Pennsylvania is also hoping to take home larvae, and even dedicated some of their updates recently to the on-site tank builds involved.

Maybe tonight will be the night!  We’ll have more here on the updates from the lab groups as the news continues to come in.  Cross your fingers!

August 13, 2011

Josh Lucas Joins Oceana

You may remember Josh Lucas as the adorable down-home old flame to Reese Witherspoon’s city-fied character in Sweet Home Alabama, or perhaps from his appearance in A Beautiful Mind.  From now on, I’ll remember him, and score his reputation right up there, with the likes of other actors that have joined forces with wildlife nonprofit groups to further the cause and campaigns on behalf of ocean conservation.  And yes, for the record, that puts him up there with Leonardo DiCaprio, January Jones, Adrian Grenier, Ted Danson, Kate Walsh and plenty of other recent spokespeople to stand by Oceana‘s side.

What about you?  Want to be a Wavemaker?  Oceana makes it incredibly easy, and they won’t overwhelm you with emails either!  Join up.

August 12, 2011

The Drought Is Breathtaking

TIME magazine is running a breathtaking collage from photojournalist George Steinmetz illustrating in images the severity of the American drought and its impact on communities. I’m taken aback by several photos of parched areas neatly juxtaposed against relatively lush green lawn-scapes that simply do not belong. Like colorful jade green Legos spilled across a tan tile floor in the average American home. And just as painful to look at an appreciate for their waste of water as it is to walk over wayward Legos on barefeet in the middle of the night.

I’m particularly struck by the image above, one of Steinmetz’ best in the piece where “the Island” resort is no longer an island at all and the boat docks sit on baked mud.

All this makes me proud to own a garden dominated by native Florida plants that tolerate the poor soil, wicked temperatures, and lack of rain with a stout constitution.  It makes me likewise proud of my incredibly dirty Subaru sitting in the driveway.  I can’t consent to sudsing down a car when whole communities are running dry.

August 11, 2011

Another Manatee Rehab’d and Released

 

In other FWC related news today, staff biologists and SeaWorld’s Animal Care team were able to successfully release an adult manatee back into the wild near Merritt Island. The manatee in question had been brought in last winter during a cold snap after observation it had symptoms of cold stress and needed assistance.

Congratulations to both teams involved and especially those fantastic folks at SeaWorld who work so hard to rehabilitate these animals throughout the year.

August 11, 2011

Marmoset for Sale? Better Have A Permit!

Remember the other week when FWC officers busted a guy on out-of-season hunting violations based on his Facebook photos?  Well, the FWC doesn’t stop there in using the internet to search out wildlife violations in Florida.

Recently officers were tipped that a man was attempting to sell a marmoset – a small monkey requiring a special permit for sale and possession in our Sunshine state – via internet classifieds.  They set up a sale with him over the web to purchase the animal at $2,700.  When the man opened up his home for the investigators to view the monkey for purchase, they smacked him with several misdemeanors after he failed to produce the necessary permit, including a violation that the size of the cage for the monkey was not in keeping with standards.

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July 13, 2011

Bears! (Stephen Colbert Was Right!)

Imagine this, you’re saving the planet on your usual bike route to work when …

A Panama City man was knocked off his bicycle July 7 on Highway 98 in Tyndall AFB when a black bear trying to cross the busy four-lane highway collided with him. John Hearn, who works on Tyndall and bikes the 12 miles to work several times a week, was left with bumps, bruises, road rash and a broken bike after the collision at 6:40 a.m. The bear, estimated to weigh 250-300 pounds, bolted into nearby woods after the collision. Hearn estimated he was going 23 miles per hour when the unexpected happened. He did not require medical attention. In the four years he’s been biking to work Hearn says he’s been hit by cars twice but this is his first encounter with a bear.

The world is just a crazy place somedays! (Above photo via FWC, Stan Kirkland.)

July 6, 2011

They're Heeeeere!

It’s hard to believe but groups around Florida are starting to report hatchling sea turtles on their beaches! The Florida Oceanographic Society shared these awesome photos of tiny loggerheads coming up out of the sand and makin’ tracks down to the water at Bathtub Beach.

As always, if you’re lucky enough to see an emergence of sea turtles in person, do not get this close (these photos were taken by permitted individuals) and let them do their own thing.  It may seem helpful to walk them down to the water, but that natural weeding out that occurs is a necessary thing.

Something that you can do to benefit the hatchlings? Always be sure to fill in the holes from your sand castle building adventures!  (Also tear down any castles before you leave.)   These monuments and pitfalls can become traps and are potentially lethal to hatchlings that are scurrying off the sand in favor the water away from gulls, racoons, and crabs.

Stranded and sick hatchlings (or “washbacks” as they’re termed if they occur after strong storms) can always be reported, the best group I know of for our area is the Sea Turtle Preservation Society.

June 25, 2011

"Ode to the Credit Card Captains"

As you may know, my parents have been off on a sailing adventure in the BVI’s for the past two weeks. They came home with great tans, good stories, and a renewed ability to cope with their crazy busy lives in the States. (Honestly I’m just glad they came back, I was pretty sure I’d get a phone call telling me to sell the house and all their belongings and forward the proceeds to their new expatriate lifestyle in the Carribbean.)

Sail charters in the BVI’s are fairly common, but not all the potential captains are particularly well screened for competency. Case in point, the “Credit Card Captains” in this jaw-dropping little video. Whew. Of course I’m far more concerned about the damage done to the harbor by the anchorage, dragging of mooring balls, and all the rest – but my Dad assures me most of the harbor where this scene unfolded is sand and rubble rock bottom, so they probably didn’t damage too much seagrass bed and coral reef in the process.