Recreate Responsibly

Recreate Responsibly

Spring break is upon us and this often includes trips to the beach. Encountering dolphins and other marine life in the wild can be a once-in-a lifetime experience.  There are a few simple guidelines that you can follow to prevent human/wildlife conflict while promoting a positive and memorable experience.  These tips from NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries can serve as a guide to recreating responsibly.  

  1. Keep my pets home or on a leash: Before you take your pet on an outdoor adventure, make sure they are permitted to be there, and if they are, keep them on a leash at all times! When pets get too close to wildlife, especially marine mammals, all animals are at risk of harm, stress, and even disease.
  2. Lead by example: What are some ways you can lead by example while enjoying the outdoors? By helping others to become responsible wildlife watchers, we protect both people and animals. Show respect for wildlife and other visitors, speak up about wildlife viewing violations, and choose businesses who recreate responsibly.
  3. Report wildlife that seems sick or abandoned: Plenty of marine animals love to spend time on the beach to rest or eat, just like us! Seeing wildlife on the shore is not always cause for concern, but if you see an animal that appears sick or abandoned, make sure to give it plenty of space and contact your local wildlife authorities. Contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922 in Florida.
  4. Keep snacks to yourself: Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to sharing food with animals! Wildlife are perfectly capable of finding their own food. Feeding wildlife often does more harm than good and is actually illegal for many species, so keep those snacks to yourself!
  5. Lend a hand with trash removal: Each year, billions of pounds of waste enter our ocean. This debris can be ingested by wildlife causing them harm or even death. To do your part try reusing and even refusing plastics. Make sure to properly dispose of your garbage and recycle whenever possible as well pick up any debris you see!
  6. Keep my hands to myself: You might be tempted to pet a seal basking in the sun but getting too close or startling them can evoke aggressive behavior and seriously injure them as well as you. Be sure to stand at a safe distance to get that perfect photo as touching, feeding, or harassing wild animals is often illegal and can ruin both yours and the animals’ day.
  7. Hang back and enjoy the view: Giving wildlife their space is SO important! Getting too close to wildlife exerts the precious energy they rely on for hunting, attracting mates, and raising their young. By hanging back from our wildlife, we can help to keep them healthy and stress-free.

Finally, we encourage the public to show their support for wildlife on social media by taking the pledge and share this information with a friend.


World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on February 2nd to raise awareness about wetlands. Nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, with 35% degraded or lost since 1970, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests. Yet, wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, water filtration, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more.

A wetland is a land area that is saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally. Inland wetlands include marshes, peatlands, lakes, rivers, floodplains, and swamps. Coastal wetlands include saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and even coral reefs. Fish ponds, rice paddies and salt pans are human-made wetlands.

It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them. World Wetlands Day is the ideal time to increase people’s understanding of these critically important ecosystems by enhancing public awareness of how much wetlands do for humanity and the planet, and to promote actions that will lead to their conservation, wise use, and restoration.




October is National Seafood Month and we are celebrating all month long! There’s no better time than now to #CelebrateSeafood. Adding seafood to your meals (at least twice a week for the amazing health benefits, according to the experts) can be exciting and fun! There are so many flavorful recipes, simple cooking methods, and fast meals so you can spend more time with your family. Simple seafood recipes are our specialty and they can be yours, too! We guarantee these simple seafood recipes and tips will help you step up your seafood game.

Here are the top three reasons you should step up your seafood game:

Live longer: Eating fish literally saves lives – eating seafood two to three times per week reduces the risk of death from any health-related cause. Plus, seafood has essential omega-3s.

Seafood is a “protein with benefits”: It’s among the highest-quality proteins and offers many additional health benefits. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, improve how you feel during pregnancy, help your child develop a healthy brain and eyes, and improve memory and sharpness in older adults.

Seafood is delicious, versatile, budget-friendly, and fast: From delicate, mild flounder to flavorful salmon, seafood can please any palate. Fresh, seasonal catches are easy on the wallet as are frozen and canned options. From start to finish, you can get fish or shellfish on the dinner table in 15 minutes or less.

Did you know 7 out of 10 deaths in the U.S. are preventable through nutrition and lifestyle changes, like adding omega-3s to your diet? Low seafood intake contributes to 55,000 deaths each year, making seafood deficiency a leading dietary contributor to preventable death in the U.S.

Hungry for more? Take the pledge to #CelebrateSeafood all summer long and follow us on social media for tips, tricks, recipes and more!

Shared from:

Florida bay scallops and linguini.
Lionfish Meet Their Match

Lionfish Meet Their Match

The northwest Florida area has been identified as having the highest concentration of invasive lionfish in the world.  Lionfish pose a significant threat to our native wildlife and habitat with spearfishing the primary means of control.  Lionfish tournaments are one way to increase harvest of these invaders and help keep populations down.  Not only that, but lionfish are a delicious tasting fish and tournaments help supply the local seafood markets with this unique offering.

Since 2019, Destin, Florida has been the site of the Emerald Coast Open (ECO), the largest lionfish tournament in the world.  While the tournament was canceled in 2020, due to the pandemic, the 2021 tournament and the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day festival returned to the Destin Harbor and led to the removal of over 10,000 invasive lionfish.

This weekend, May 14 and 15, 2022, the tournament and festival will be in back in full force at HarborWalk Village in Destin Harbor. A record number of teams will be on the water competing for cash prizes and other loot.  Florida Sea Grant will be on hand to support the two-day festival that will include lionfish tasting and fillet demonstrations, conservation and art booths, interactive kids zone, shopping, and lionfish viewing! Bring your family and friends out to support this unique event and do your part to help fight invasive lionfish.

For more information on the tournament, visit or

For information about Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, visit

The Invasive Lionfish

“An Equal Opportunity Institution”

Celebrating the Okaloosa Darter

Celebrating the Okaloosa Darter

World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3, 2022.  This year’s theme is “Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration.” We celebrate this day to bring attention and awareness to many of the plants and animals that are considered threatened and endangered species and highlight efforts to conserve them. It is estimated that over a million species are currently threatened with extinction.

Turkey Creek Niceville, FL (credit E. Zambello)

Florida is considered a very biodiverse state having a great variety ecosystems and unique plants and animals that inhabit these areas.  This makes Florida an attractive place to live but can result in increased pollution and land use changes that can be threats to this biodiversity. One local species that experienced this type of pressure is the Okaloosa darter. This tiny 1 to 2 inch fish dwindled to as few as 1,500 individuals surviving when it was declared endangered in 1973.  Factors such as its small range, competition from other species, and historical land use practices including artificial impoundments, erosion, and siltation, contributed to its demise.

The Okaloosa darter prefers to live in small, clear, lightly vegetated streams fed by ground water seepage from sand hill areas.  This highly specialized habitat is found in only six streams in Okaloosa and Walton Counties and almost exclusively within Eglin Air Force Base’s boundaries.  Environmental managers from Eglin Air Force Base partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies and worked diligently to reduce land use impacts and rehab the impaired streams over the past several decades. They reclaimed clay pits near stream headwaters, improved road crossings to reduce sedimentation and enhanced the habitat for the darter.

Okaloosa darter photo credit:

Due to these efforts, the population of Okaloosa Darters has increased to more than 600,000 and the species has now been down listed from endangered to threatened.  In fact, the projects have been so successful that the darter is now being considered for delisting as a threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This is something to celebrate on this World Wildlife Day as an example of how we can recover key species for ecosystem restoration.  The best news is that Eglin Air Force Base’s Jackson Guard Unit is continuing to make on-base conservation a priority, not only for the Okaloosa Darter, but for other plants and animals under their purview.