Ready for Northwest Florida Artificial Reef Workshop Wednesday February 22

Ready for Northwest Florida Artificial Reef Workshop Wednesday February 22

Northwest Florida Workshop Attendees from 2013 in Niceville, FL. This year’s workshop will be held at the UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa County Office in Crestview, February 22, 2017. Direction and Contact Information can be found at this link http://directory.ifas.ufl.edu/Dir/searchdir?pageID=2&uid=A56 

Researchers from University of West Florida recently estimated the value of Artificial Reefs to Florida’s coastal economy. Bay County artificial reefs provide 49.02 million dollars annually in personal income to local residents.  Bay County ranks 8th in the state of Florida with 1,936 fishing and diving jobs. This important economic study gives updated guidance and insight for industry and government leaders. This same level of detailed insight is available for other Northwest Florida counties and counties throughout the state.

The UWF research team is one of several contributors scheduled to present at the Northwest Florida Artificial Reef Manager’s Workshop February 22. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and Florida Sea Grant are hosting the workshop. This meeting will bring together about fifty artificial reef managers, scientists, fishing and diving charter businesses, and others interested in artificial reefs to discuss new research, statewide initiatives and regional updates for Florida’s Northwest region. The meeting will be held at the UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa County Office in Crestview, FL.

Cost is $15.00 and includes conference handouts, light continental breakfast with coffee, lunch, and afternoon refreshments. Register now by visiting Eventbrite or short link url  https://goo.gl/VOLYkJ.

A limited number of exhibit tables/spaces will be available. For more information, please contact Laura Tiu, lgtiu@ufl.edu or 850-612-6197.

 

Super Reefs staged at the Panama City Marina, which were deployed in SAARS D, located 3 nautical miles south of Pier Park. Learn more about this reef project and others at the Northwest Florida Artificial Reef Manager’s Workshop in Crestview, February 22, 2017. (Photo by Scott Jackson).

 

Northwest Florida Artificial Reef Workshop Tentative Agenda

Date: February 22, 2017

Where: UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa County Office, 3098 Airport Road Crestview, FL 32539

8:15     Meet and Greet

9:00     Welcome and Introductions – Laura Tiu UF/IFAS Okaloosa Co and Keith Mille, FWC

9:25     Regional and National Artificial Reef Updates – Keith Mille

9:50     Invasive Lionfish Trends, Impacts, and Potential Mitigation on Panhandle Artificial Reefs – Kristen Dahl, University of Florida

10:20   Valuing Artificial Reefs in Northwest Florida – Bill Huth, University of West Florida

11:00   County Updates – Representatives will provide a brief overview of recent activities 12:00 LUNCH (included with registration)

12:00   LUNCH

1:00     NRDA NW Florida Artificial Reef Creation and Restoration Project Update – Alex Fogg, FWC

1:15     Goliath Grouper Preferences for Artificial Reefs: An Opportunity for Citizen Science – Angela Collins, FL, Sea Grant

1:45     Current Research and Perspectives on Artificial Reefs and Fisheries – Will Patterson, University of Florida

3:00     BREAK

3:30     Association between Habitat Quantity and Quality and Exploited Reef Fishes: Implications for Retrospective Analyses and Future Survey Improvements – Sean Keenan, FWRI

3:50     Innovations in Artificial Reef Design and Use – Robert Turpin, facilitator

4:10     Using Websites and Social Media to Promote Artificial Reef Program Engagement – Bob Cox, Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association & Scott Jackson, UF/IFAS Bay Co

4:40     Wrap Up and Next Steps – Keith Mille and Scott Jackson

5:00     Adjourn and Networking

 

Register now by visiting Eventbrite or short link url  https://goo.gl/VOLYkJ. Live Broadcast, workshop videos, and other information will be available on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/floridaartificialreefs/ (Florida Artificial Reefs) .

An Equal Opportunity Institution. University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension, Nick T. Place, Dean.

NISAW 2016 – Working together to remove Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) from Northwest Florida

NISAW 2016 – Working together to remove Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) from Northwest Florida

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Giant Salvinia mats completely covering Bay County pond. This fast growing invasive can double in coverage every two weeks! Photo by L. Scott Jackson

Giant Salvinia mats completely covering Bay County pond. This fast growing invasive can double in size every week! Photo by L. Scott Jackson

 

Matthew Phillips and Scott Jackson –

UF/IFAS Extension and Research works with many partners supporting invasive species management actions and strategies across Florida. One key partner is the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conserva­tion Commission (FWC), Invasive Plant Management Section. FWC Biologists provide resources and expertise to address threats from Florida’s most disruptive invasive species. FWC and UF/IFAS have worked together for years. They have teamed-up to help residents make the best cost-effective management decisions to preserve unique habitats and ecosystems. Most days are filled with routine questions from land managers and pond owners but on rare occasions there are days we will never forget.

Active growing Giant Salvinia was observed growing out of the pond water on to moist soils and emerging cypress and tupelo tree trunks. Photo by L. Scott Jackson

Active growing Giant Salvinia was observed growing out of the pond water on to moist soils and emerging cypress and tupelo tree trunks. Photo by L. Scott Jackson

Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is an invasive free-floating aquatic fern from South America that is rarely observed in Northwest Florida. The species is on the Federal Noxious Weed List and the Florida Prohibited Aquatic Plants List. After a site visit with a pond owner, Scott Jackson, a University of Florida/IFAS Extension Agent, identified Salvinia molesta in the Bay County pond and notified the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Invasive Plant Management Sec­tion. Their staff confirmed the identification of the specimen and a second voucher specimen was transferred to the Godfrey Herbarium at Florida State University.

Jackson reported the observation on the Early Detection and Distribution Map­ping System (EDDMapS) housed at the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. This was only the second reported occurrence of giant salvinia in Northwest Florida. It is a high control priority for the state of Florida due to its high invasive potential.

Giant salvinia has caused severe eco­nomic and environmental problems in Texas and Louisiana and in many countries including New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Giant salvinia grows rapidly and produces a dense floating canopy on the surface of ponds, lakes, and rivers. It ag­gressively spreads by vegetative fragments and thrives in slow-moving, nutrient-rich warm fresh water. Floating mats of giant salvinia shade out native submersed vegeta­tion and degrade water quality.

Mats also impede boating, fishing, swimming, and clog water intakes for irrigation and electri­cal generation.1 Salvinia molesta has been listed in The World’s Worst Weeds – Distribu­tion and Biology2 since 1977. It was recently added to 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species, an all taxa list compiled by invasion biologists with the Global Invasive Species Database.3

The most distinguishing physical characteristic of Salvinia molesta is the basket- or egg beater-like hairs on the up­per leaves (a hand lens is required) which distinguishes it from common salvinia (Salvinia minima). Common salvinia also has hairs on the upper leaf surface but they do not form basket-like structures at the tips. The upper leaves of both species repel water.

Photo by Barry Rice, sarracenia.com, Bugwood.org Rows of egg beater or light bulb shaped leaf hairs are a unique identifying characteristic of giant salvinia.

Photo by Barry Rice, sarracenia.com, Bugwood.org Rows of egg beater or light bulb shaped leaf hairs are a unique identifying characteristic of giant salvinia.

The location of the giant salvinia infesta­tion found by Jackson is precariously close to Deer Point Lake, a 5,000 acre water body that is the main source of drinking water for Panama City and surrounding Bay County. The 2.5 acre infestation was on a 3.6 acre divided pond and both sections were treated. Treatment of the infestation was initiated by FWC in June 2013 at no expense to the property owners.

Bay County pond with no observed Giant Slavinia. Take Oct 2013 by Derek Fussell, FWC.

Bay County pond with no observed Giant Slavinia. Taken Oct 2013 by Derrek Fussell, FWC.

The pond continues to be monitored and, to date, there have not been any signs of living Salvinia molesta. We will continue to monitor the pond to make sure there is no re-establishment of giant salvinia. Investiga­tions continue to try and learn more about the introduction of the pernicious species to this isolated pond.

Read more about the successful treatment regime FWC Biologists used to control giant salvinia in Northwest Florida. This was published in Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society’s publication “Aquatics” – see page 5.

WJHG 7 in Panama City ran this news story. Please see their webpage for additional information and video. “Invasive Plant Threatens Deer Point Lake“.

1 Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta), Weed Alert, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conserva­tion Commission, Tallahassee, FL, 2 pp.

2 The World’s Worst Weeds – Distribution and Biology. 1977 and 1991. L.G. Holm, D.L. Plucknett, J.V. Pancho, and J.P. Herberger. 609 pp.

3 Alien species: Monster fern makes IUCN invader list. 2013. Nature 498:37. G.M. Luque, C. Bellard, et al.

Matt Phillips is an Administrative Biolo­gist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conserva­tion Commission, Invasive Plant Management Section in Tallahassee; (850) 617-9430; Mattv.phillips@myfwc.com Scott Jackson is a University of Florida/ IFAS Sea Grant Extension Agent, Bay County; (850) 784-6105; LSJ@ufl.edu

Looking Out for Horseshoe Crabs

Horseshoe crabs spawning. Credit: Bill Hall, Univ. Delaware Sea Grant

Horseshoe crabs spawning.
Credit: Bill Hall, Univ. Delaware Sea Grant

Horseshoe crabs spawning on a beach. Credit: FL Fish & Wildlife Commission

Horseshoe crabs spawning on a beach.
Credit: FL Fish & Wildlife Commission

The female is the larger of the two horseshoe crabs. Credit: Fotosearch -Stock Photo

The female is the larger of the two horseshoe crabs.
Credit: Fotosearch -Stock Photo

Spring is here and that can only mean one thing, horseshoe crabs! That’s right it’s horseshoe crab survey time!

Each spring the scientists with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) look for volunteers to report horseshoe crab sightings around the state as part of their annual horseshoe crab survey.

So, if you would like to be part of the research team, all you need to do is get out and walk along the beach and let FWC researchers know when you see horseshoe crabs. Please see the information at the end of this article for submission information. The following is some background information on horseshoe crabs.

About Horseshoe Crabs

  • The horseshoe crab is found on shores of the western Atlantic Ocean ranging from Maine to Mexico. Fossils of horseshoe crab ancestors show that these animals have been around for over 350 million years – before the age of dinosaurs. Therefore, it is no surprise that scientists typically refer to horseshoe crabs as “living fossils.”
  • Interestingly, horseshoe crabs are not really crabs at all! As it turns out, they are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than they are to true crabs. This is because unlike true crabs, horseshoe crabs do not have antennae or jaws, and their legs are similar to those found on spiders.
  • Currently, horseshoe crabs are being harvested commercially for three purposes in the United States: bait (conch & eel fisheries); marine life (aquarium trade, research, etc.); and biomedical (for blood).
  • Compared to other states, especially along the Atlantic coast, Florida does not have a large horseshoe crab fishery.  The primary harvest in Florida is for marine life.
  • Horseshoe crabs are ecologically important. During certain times of the year, horseshoe crabs lay billions of eggs on beaches. These eggs are an important food source for migrating birds and the marine wildlife.
  • Horseshoe crabs are also directly important to humans because research on their compound eyes has lead to a better understanding of the human visual system.
  • In addition, horseshoe crab blood is widely used by the biomedical industry. Special cells in their blood (which by the way is blue) are used to test for bacterial contamination in our blood supplies and in the production of many commercial drugs. A horseshoe crab’s blood contains hemocyanin, a copper – based molecule that gives it a blue color.
  • Finally, the material that makes up their exoskeleton (chiton) is used to make contact lenses, skin creams, and hair sprays.
The blood of the horseshoe crab is blue because it is copper-based. Credit: FL Fish & Wildlife Commission

The blood of the horseshoe crab is blue because it is copper-based.
Credit: FL Fish & Wildlife Commission

Horseshoe Crab Anatomy

  •  The tail of the horseshoe crab is often thought to be a weapon by many people. However, the horseshoe crab is actually harmless and the tail is used to dig through sand and to turn the crab upright if it is accidentally turned over.
  • The first pair of legs can be used to distinguish between males and females. Males use their specialized front legs, called claspers, to hold on to the female during spawning.

Project Objectives and Goals

Currently, horseshoe crabs are being over-harvested in some states. The management plan issued by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission requires that all Atlantic coastal states must identify horseshoe crab spawning beaches.

With your help! – FWC’s goal is to identify horseshoe crab spawning beaches around Florida.

How can you help?

FWC is asking the public to report sightings of horseshoe crab activities. The information that the researchers would like to collect from you is the following:

  • Date and time of your sighting.
  • Location of your sighting.
  • Whether or not horseshoe crabs were spawning.
  • A rough estimate of the number of horseshoe crabs seen.

Spawning behavior of horseshoe crabs is best observed within three-days before and after a full or new moon on sandy beaches with low wave action.

If you want to be more involved, you can contact the FWC researchers about collecting data on abundance of male and female horseshoe crabs, and on sizes of individuals. You can contact FWC using any of the following methods:

Go to MyFWC.com/Contact and click on the “Submit a Horseshoe Crab Survey” link, then “Florida Horseshoe Crab Spawning Beach Survey,” or go directly to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/horseshoe_crab

  1. You can also report findings via email at horseshoe@MyFWC.com
  2. Or call toll-free at 1-866-252-9326

If you have any questions please let me know. Enjoy your beach walks and “crab” watching.

(Bill Mahan is a FL Sea Grant Agent and Director of the Franklin UF-IFAS Extension Program. Contact him at (850) 653-9337, 697-2112 x 360; via e-mail at bmahan@ufl.edu; or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/UFIFASFranklinExtension

Save the Date: Artificial Reef Workshop Feb. 19 & 20th (Date Change!)

Picture of a boat and an ecosystem artificial reef

Save the date for the Florida Sea Grant-FWC Artificial Reef Workshop on Feb. 19-20 in Niceville. (Photo courtesy Bill Horn, FWC)

Please save the date for the 2013 Northwest Florida Regional Artificial Reef Workshop sponsored by Florida Sea Grant and FWC, to be held at the Niceville Community Center in Niceville, FL on Wednesday-Thursday, February 19-20, 2013. (Change due to Gulf Council Meeting Date Conflict)

Agenda and Registration Information to be released Dec 14 or earlier.