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



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,, Rows of egg beater or light bulb shaped leaf hairs are a unique identifying characteristic of giant salvinia.

Photo by Barry Rice,, 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; Scott Jackson is a University of Florida/ IFAS Sea Grant Extension Agent, Bay County; (850) 784-6105;

Shark Safety Tips

Shark Safety Tips

Pregnant Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) cruses sandy seafloor. Credit Florida Sea Grant Stock Photo

Pregnant Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) cruses the sandy seafloor. Credit Florida Sea Grant Stock Photo

Shark Safety Tips

UF/IFAS Extension – Florida Sea Grant

By L. Scott Jackson (Bay County) and Rick O’Connor (Escambia County)

Recently, two teens were victims of unusual shark attacks in North Carolina. The two attacks occurred within minutes and miles of each other. A similar incident happened in the Florida Panhandle in 2005. One teen lost her life and one lost his leg. The attacks were within days of each other and the distance between the two attacks was less than 100 miles. Experts identified Bull Sharks as being responsible for both Panhandle shark encounters.

Bull Sharks migrate north as ocean waters of the Gulf and Atlantic warm. As the nearshore environment cools in the late fall and winter, Bull Sharks follow the receding warm water and eventually move out of the local area. Bull Sharks are an aggressive shark responsible for a reported 100 attacks on humans resulting in 21 fatalities. (Reported from 1580 to 2014 Source: International Shark Attack Files).

Experts suggest Bull Sharks may be responsible for many shark attacks where the species is unknown or not identified.

Overall, the number of shark encounters is slowly trending higher as more people swim and participate in other water related activities. However, negative encounters with sharks remain a rare occurrence. In 2014, Florida reported 28 shark bites with no fatalities. On average, only one shark attack fatality is reported every other year in the United States. The risk of shark attack is very low compared to other potential recreational hazards. For example, in 2014, 26 people died as a result of lightning strikes in the United States, with six of those being in Florida.


George Burgess with the International Shark Attack File has compiled a list of action strategies you can use to reduce the chances of a negative encounter with a shark:

Keep these tips in mind the next time you hit the beach!

  1. Avoid being in the water from sunset to sunrise. This is when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.
  1. Stay in a group, and do not wander too far from shore. Isolated individuals are more likely to be attacked than large groups; in addition, the farther you are from shore, the farther you are from help.
  1. Consider your clothing: avoid wearing shiny jewelry, because the reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.
  1. Avoid brightly colored or patterned clothing, because sharks see contrast particularly well.
  1. Do not enter waters being used by sport or commercial fisherman – sharks can sense the smells emitted from bait at incredible distances.
  1. Avoid entering waters with sewage output and/or entering the water if you are bleeding. Such additions to the water can act as strong olfactory attractants to sharks.
  1. Know your facts! Porpoise sightings do not indicate the absence of sharks. In fact, the opposite is often true. Also be on the lookout for signs of baitfish or feeding activity – diving seabirds are good indicators of such action. Animals that eat the same food items are often found in close proximity. Remember, a predator is never too far from its prey.
  1. Refrain from excess splashing while in the water, and do not allow pets in the water because of their erratic movements.
  1. Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep drop-offs, as these are favorite hangouts for sharks.
  1. Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present, and evacuate the water if sharks are seen while there. And, of course, do not harass a shark if you see one!
  1. Stay calm if you do see a shark, and maintain your position in as quiet a manner as possible. Most sharks merely are curious and will leave on their own.
  1. Relax! You are more likely to be injured by lightning than attacked by a shark. To learn more about your relative risks, see: The Relative Risk of Shark Attacks to Humans

Our beautiful Emerald Coast is an alluring wild habitat. Simply put – Swimming at the beach is not the same as swimming in a backyard pool. Have fun at the beach but be mindful and respectful of potential hazards. Knowing what to do to be safe will actually help you enjoy time at the beach while keeping worry and concern at a minimum.

Follow these beach safety tips for helping your family enjoy the beach while protecting coastal wildlife.

Follow these beach safety tips for helping your family enjoy the beach while protecting coastal wildlife.


Invasive Species of the Day: Tiger Prawn and Climbing Ferns

Invasive Species of the Day: Tiger Prawn and Climbing Ferns


Giant Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon):

Giant Tiger Prawn: This large shrimp, also known as the Asian Tiger Shrimp and the Black Tiger Shrimp, can reach lengths between 8-12 inches.  It resembles are native edible penaeid shrimp but differs in that it has distinct black and yellow stripes. It was brought to the U.S. from the Indo-Pacific region as an aquaculture product.  There was an accidental release of 2,000 animals from a South Carolina farm in 1988.

The nonnative Giant Tiger Prawn - also known as the Black Tiger Shrimp. Photo by David Knott,

The nonnative Giant Tiger Prawn – also known as the Black Tiger Shrimp. Photo by David Knott,

Reports of this shrimp in the wild have increased over time.  They have been found in all Gulf coast states and there has been at least 1 record in each of the Florida Panhandle counties.

The impact of this shrimp to our area is still unknown but they have a high tolerance for salinity change and consume many types of benthic invertebrates.  It is thought that they could become serious competition for our native penaeid shrimp and could possible transmit diseases.

If you think you have found one of these shrimp, record size location (GPS preferred), and email information to  To learn more about this species view the USGS factsheet.

For more information contact the author Rick O’Connor, UF/IFAS Escambia County Extension – Sea Grant and Marine Science Extension Agent, 850-475-5230.

Climbing Ferns (Lygodium japonicum and Lygodium microphyllum):

Japanese Climbing Fern (Lygodium japonicum) and Old World Climbing Ferns (Lygodium microphyllum): are presently the only non-native invasive ferns in Florida.  Both ferns reproduce and spread readily by wind-blown spores. A single fertile leaflet can produce 28,600 spores.  Animals, equipment, and even people that move through an area with climbing ferns are very likely to pick up spores and move them to other locations on the property or even to other properties.

Japanese Climbing Fern Lygodium japonicum photo by Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,

Japanese climbing fern is a delicate looking perennial climbing vine.  It is capable of forming a dense mat-like thatch capable of covering trees and shrubs. Initially, it was introduced from Japan as an ornamental. It is scattered throughout the lower portions of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and south into central Florida. Further planting or cultivation of this vine is prohibited by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  It climbs very quickly to the crowns of pine trees, which can move fire into the growth points during controlled burns, making it a concern on forested lands.

Old World climbing fern has been a problem for many years in central and south Florida but it is currently moving north. The first plant was documented in 1958 by a nursery in Delray Beach.  By 1965, it was found in natural areas of Marion County.  The northern edge of its advance by 2012 was Hernando County on the Gulf side and Duval County on the Atlantic coast.

Adequate control of both climbing ferns has been achieved with multiple applications of glyphosate and/or metsulfuron. Other herbicides, such as triclopyr and imazapic have also been used to
control Japanese climbing fern.  However, when the plant is growing in areas adjacent to wetlands or water, fewer herbicides are registered for those sites.  Hand digging is also an option, except when the fern is producing spore covered leaflets.  Disturbing it then would propagate more plants.

Old World Climbing Fern has moved northward from South Florida into Central Florida. Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

Old World Climbing Fern has moved northward from South Florida into Central Florida. Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

As with most invasive plants, repeated and correctly timed treatments are likely to be necessary. For more information about climbing ferns contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and read the following publications: and

For more information contact Les Harrison, UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County – Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Agent by phone at 850-926-3931.






Harvesting Safer Oysters – “From Bay to Table”

Harvesting Safer Oysters – “From Bay to Table”

Oysters on the half shell

Oysters on the half shell ready to eat! Photo Courtesy of Florida Sea Grant

Making oysters a healthy and sustainable seafood choice is the goal of oystermen and seafood dealers across the nation and the state of Florida. New education programs for the oyster industry went into effect January 1, 2014 and were implemented by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) this past spring. FDACS oversees oyster resources and seafood dealer certification.More information about FDACS division Aquaculture can be found at .

As our fall harvest areas reopen, many local oystermen are now viewing a new 25 minute video which is now required along with a Commercial Saltwater Products License to harvest oysters commercially. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) issues licenses for both commercial and recreational oyster harvesters and enforces laws related to harvesting. More information regarding proper licensing can be found online at .

All harvesters can do their part to insure seafood safety by following important harvesting guidelines. These include time and temperature protocols in the collections and transportation of shellfish to the dealer or home. Also important, are harvest boat safety, condition, and sanitation practices. Protection of oyster resources through proper culling and following the 3” inch size limit is important to creating sustainable oyster resources. The new video provides this education and an Oyster Harvester Training Certificate for commercial harvesters is available to those who watch the video at the following FDACS and UF/IFAS Extension Offices by appointment:

FDACS Field Offices:

Melbourne Office: 321-984-4890

Port Charlotte Office: 941-613-0954

Cedar Key Office: 352-543-1084

Tallahassee Office: 850-617-7600

Apalachicola Shellfish Center: 850-653-8317

UF/IFAS Locations:

Bay County: 850-784-6105

Franklin County: 850-653-9337

Santa Rosa County: 850-623-3868

This harvesting and training information is also appropriate for recreational harvesters even though it is not required.

Recreational harvesters regulations and instructions can be found at .

Seafood safety is of interest to everyone,including harvesters, seafood dealers, and consumers. Each year there are a relatively small number of serious cases of foodborne illness as result of shellfish consumption. Often illness is a result of poor choices made by consumers. Consumption of raw oysters or other shellfish is not recommended for individuals with compromised immune systems. Poor immune systems are often the result of liver-disease or when chemotherapy treatment is used. Patient diagnosed with diabetes, iron overload disease, and HIV/AIDS are also advised not to consume raw shellfish.

New research also suggests another risk group are patients with acid reflux and digestive issues. Some over the counter and prescription medications, including antacids and proton pump inhibitors, increase stomach pH which allows more potentially harmful bacteria to survive ingestion, leaving patients at a higher risk for a variety of foodborne illnesses. The best advice is to consult your doctor if you have questions about whether consuming raw shellfish is appropriate for your health concern. Cooking is also a tasty way to safely prepare and enjoy shellfish. For additional guidance please visit .

Take survey to identify Gulf research needs

Take survey to identify Gulf research needs


Gulf of Mexico Research Plan Interim Report

You can provide input to numerous groups around the Gulf of Mexico that are developing regional science and restoration plans or funding Gulf research through a single survey. <<<Click Here to Take the Survey

This survey is part of an update to the Gulf of Mexico Research Plan (GMRP). This project assists the Gulf of Mexico research community in identifying research and related priorities and learning if priorities shifted during the past six years.

Multiple groups already have used input collected through previous GMRP efforts to identify and fund research, and the 2013 survey results will be distributed widely as a service to the research community. The results of this survey will be shared with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), NOAA Restore Act Science Program, National Academy of Science’s Gulf of Mexico Program, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and other groups. The GMRP efforts are partially sponsored by NOAA and the four Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant college programs.

Responses will be anonymous, and it will take less than 15 minutes to complete this critical survey. The survey will close on Dec. 13, so complete it today.

For more information contact Steve Sempier, Sea Grant Gulf of Mexico research planning coordinator.