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Sea Grant Notes – May 26, 2017




DEP and DOH only sampled Bayou Texar and Sanders Beach this week.


Date Location Water Temp (F) Salinity (ppt) Dissolved Oxygen (mg/L) Enterococcus levels (colonies/100ml) Bacteria Levels Advisory Issued
May 22 Bayou Texar 79 6.6 6.6 107 Poor YES
  Sanders Beach         Good No

Data provided by Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health


To view all 2017 water quality data visit



ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY OF THE PENSACOLA BAY SYSTEM: Retrospective Review for Future Resource Management and Rehabilitation

Lewis, Michael, J. Taylor Kirschenfeld, and Traci Goodhart. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Breeze, Florida, EPA/006/R-16/169, 2016.


This 146-page document reviews historic database, biodiversity, contaminants, groundwater quality, surface water quality, sediment quality, dredging, bioaccumulation, public health risk, wildlife health risk, habitat status and restoration, economic value, and climate change within the Pensacola Bay System.


The document is too long to post on the website but I will be posting smaller fact sheets throughout the year. If you are interested in the complete document, contact me. Roc1@ufl.edu



Perdido and Pensacola Bay

The Northwest Florida Water Management District conducted public meetings on the recent SWIM plans for Perdido and Pensacola Bay watersheds. If you were not able to attend the meetings you can view the draft plans (and make comments) at the following website.




Fish Kills


JANUARY      Jan 10  Algal bloom in Trout Bayou – no fish kill reported


FEBRUARY    Feb 17  19 unknown species      Navy English Cove (Deer Point – Shoreline Park)

Feb 21  1 sturgeon                    Big Lagoon

(there was another dead sturgeon reported from AL – in

the Old River area)


MARCH          no fish kills reported


APRIL             no fish kills reported


May                 May 13            50 dead bonito reported in GOM near Perdido Key


Red Tide


NW FL – NO detection anywhere


NOT PRESENT < 1000 cells / liter No problems


VERY LOW Ø  1000 – 10,000 cells / L Possible respiratory irritation; shellfish closure at > 5000 / L
LOW Ø  10,000 – 100,000 c/L Respiratory irritation; possible fish kill
MEDIUM Ø  100,000 – 1,000,000 c/L Respiratory irritation; probable fish kill
HIGH Ø  1,000,000 c/L All of the above including discolored water




Sample from Escambia River had no microplastics


76% of the microplastics continue to be fibers, 20% beads, 4% other


2016 Water Quality Report





Because of the fear of mercury, scientist have found that many pregnant women, and mothers, are avoiding seafood and thus are avoiding some essential nutrients needed for growth and development. This week the EPA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration published an information sheet that helps identify seafood products to be aware of and those that are better choices.

However, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) believes the document does go far enough to promote the health value of the “better choices” and their recommendations may skewed a bit. More information cab ne found at






We are pleased to announce a new Sea Grant Oil Spill Outreach Team publication is available online.


We are pleased to announce the release of a pair of new bulletins outlining how the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted the popular marine animals dolphins and sea turtles. To read these and other oil spill science publications, go to http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/publications/.


The Deepwater Horizon’s impact on bottlenose dolphins – In 2010, scientists documented a markedly increased number of stranded dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Was oil exposure to blame? Could other factors have been in play? Read the answers to these questions here: http://masgc.org/oilscience/oil-spill-science-dolphins.pdf .


Sea turtles and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – This publication reviews the estimated damage oil exposure caused to sea turtles and discusses continued research and monitoring efforts for these already endangered and threatened species. Click here to read this bulletin: http://masgc.org/oilscience/oil-spill-science-sea-turtles.pdf .


“Sea turtles and oil spills” presentations – On March 23 in Brownsville, Texas, more than 100 participants gathered in person and online to listen to scientists, responders, and sea turtle specialists explain what we know about how these creatures fared in 2010 and detail ongoing conservation programs. Watch videos of the presentations here: http://gulfseagrant.org/sea-turtles-oil-spills/.


Our audiences asked for information on these subjects, and we were more than happy to deliver! If you have a specific interest our team can assist with, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email with your question. As always, we ask that you send this message to friends or colleagues who share your interest in the latest oil spill science findings.



Emerging surfactants, sorbents, and additives for use in oil spill clean-up The Deepwater Horizon oil spill renewed the world’s focus on the need for safe, effective methods to combat oil’s intrusion into the delicate marine ecosystem. This 8-page publication outlines an array of tools in development designed to aid in future oil spill clean-up efforts. Read it here: http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/publications/.


On our website you’ll also find our presentations and other publications that focus on dispersants:






As always, we strive to bring the latest peer-reviewed oil spill science to our audiences around the country. Please never hesitate to contact us with a specific request at http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/contact-a-member-of-the-oil-spill-outreach-project/.




Marine Debris – Ocean Hour




May 27th – Taking a Memorial Weekend break! No clean up.

May 30th– (Tuesday) Special Clean up at Casino Beach, 6 Casino Beach Blvd. (meet by the pavilion) and Park West Pensacola Beach. Usual time.

Sign in is at 8:45 – Clean up 9:00 – 10:00

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/oceanhourfl


If you, or your organization, are interested in beginning a debris removal project in your neighborhood – contact me and let me know.


Remember to encourage visitors to Pensacola Beach to use the trash bags in the yellow trash boxes to collect and dispose of their waste.



June 10 (TENTATIVE) – PKA and the Friends of Pensacola State Parks will be celebrating World Ocean Day most likely beginning with a beach cleanup at 8 AM; meeting at the Perdido Key Visitors Center.

September 16 – PKA/Perdido Key State Park sponsored International Coastal Cleanup Day at Perdido Key State Park


Living Shorelines


If you have waterfront property and are interested in restoring, contact me and we will begin the assessment. You can learn more about the process by visiting or website: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/permitting-living-shorelines/.



At last check – the mangroves at Big Lagoon State Park were doing fine





Gag season starts June 1 in Gulf federal and most state waters


Gag grouper will open for recreational harvest in most state and all federal Gulf of Mexico waters June 1, and will remain open through Dec. 31.


Monroe County is excluded from this season because it follows the Atlantic state season. Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties are also excluded from this opening because they have their own season from April 1-June 30. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will be discussing extending this shorter four-county season at the July Commission meeting in Orlando. Learn more or comment on these changes at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.


Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters begin where state waters end and extend to 200 nautical miles.


The minimum size limit for gag grouper in Gulf waters is 24 inches total length, and the daily bag limit is two fish per person within the four-grouper-per-person aggregate limit.


If you plan to fish for gag grouper in Gulf state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required). To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.” Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.


Learn more about grouper at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Groupers.”


King mackerel management changes effective May 11


Several commercial and recreational changes to king mackerel management in Florida state and federal waters will take effect May 11. These changes are consistent with federal regulation changes that are effective the same day.


Approved changes include:

  • Setting the Gulf/Atlantic state waters management boundary line, which used to shift from the west coast during the summer season to the east coast during the winter season, to be at the Monroe/Miami-Dade county line year-round.
  • Increasing the recreational bag limit in Gulf state waters and Monroe County from two to three fish per person.
  • Clarifying that commercial harvesters taking king mackerel must adhere to federal commercial vessel limits when fishing in state waters.

For more on these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and either “Recreational Regulations” or “Commercial Regulations,” and then “Mackerel, King.”


The FWC is also accepting public input on the status of the Atlantic coast cobia fishery and additional feedback opportunities may follow.


Written comments on cobia and other topics can also be submitted at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments. For your online comments on cobia to be considered at the July 10-11 Commission meeting, submit them no later than June 15.


Learn more about these workshops at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Rulemaking” and “Public Workshops.”


Clean bird feeders to help protect cardinals and other birds

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has received reports of sick and dead cardinals in north Florida from concerned residents who have bird feeders. Artificial feeding stations, such as bird feeders, can draw large numbers of birds into one area. Cleaning bird feeders can decrease the potential for spreading diseases.

Initial reports via the online wild bird mortality surveillance system came in from northwest Florida (Santa Rosa, Bay and Holmes counties). Three to four weeks later, reports came in from north central Florida (Dixie, Marion, Flagler and Duval counties). Observations of other dead songbird species were rare in these reports.

Sick cardinals appear to move slowly, often hiding in ground vegetation with limited ability to fly. They seem capable of only short flight distances a few feet off the ground.

The FWC collected two cardinal carcasses and submitted them to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, where laboratory evaluation confirmed the birds were infected with salmonella species. These bacteria are transmitted by ingestion of contaminated feces. For this reason it is very important to clean bird feeders regularly, especially during disease outbreaks.


If you have bird feeders, take the time to follow the guidelines below to minimize the risk of disease transmission:

  • Use a diluted bleach solution to clean your bird feeders every two to three weeks. First, discard old feed. Then, while wearing gloves, use a scrub brush and soapy water to remove crusted material from the feeder. Next, soak the feeder in a 1:10 bleach solution for 10 minutes. Rinse the feeder with water and place in a sunny area to dry thoroughly before use.
  • Clean birdbaths in a similar fashion.
  • Minimize crowding at feeders. Provide enough feeders spaced far enough apart so birds do not have to jostle each other for space at a feeder.
  • Rake clean any debris (feed and bird feces) that accumulates around the feeder area.
  • Do not clean bird feeders and birdbaths near human living and eating areas. Salmonella can cause illness in people, so it is best to take precautions such as wearing rubber gloves and washing hands thoroughly.

If you observe dead cardinals or other dead songbirds in your yard, remove your bird feeders for a period of at least two weeks. Report your observations to the wild bird mortality surveillance system at MyFWC.com/Bird.

Additional information on salmonella in songbirds can be found at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center.


Share your marine fisheries comments on new saltwater commenting webpage


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management wants to hear from you. In an effort to keep stakeholders informed and to gather public input on upcoming issues, a new webpage has been created: MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

Keep track of items expected to be discussed by the Commission in future meetings and provide your thoughts on fishery management in state waters (shore to 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic and shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf) by visiting the new webpage.

Currently, staff are collecting comments on the statewide management of cobia, sheepshead and tripletail, as well as goliath grouper, flounder, spotted seatrout, trap fisheries and shrimp. Staff are also collecting comments on gray triggerfish and gag grouper in Gulf state waters. To comment, fill out the form at the bottom of the commenting page. Comments can also be emailed to Marine@MyFWC.com or submitted over the phone at 850-487-0554.

Have a question instead of a comment? Email Marine@MyFWC.com, call 850-487-0554 or send your question in via Ask FWC.


2017 Gulf recreational red snapper state season opens weekends starting May 6


The 78-day 2017 recreational red snapper season in Gulf of Mexico state waters opens Saturdays and Sundays in May starting May 6. On May 27, the season will open daily through July 9. The season will also reopen for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, and on Labor Day.


This season will maintain fishing opportunities for recreational anglers in state waters and provide spring, summer and fall fishing options.


The Gulf federal season was recently announced by NOAA Fisheries and will be June 1-3 for private recreational anglers and June 1 through July 19 for federally-permitted charter boats and head boats.


If you plan to fish for red snapper in Gulf state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a Gulf Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required). To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.” Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.


Learn more about red snapper at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers.”


FWC provides tips for living with alligators


The American alligator is a conservation success story. Florida has a healthy and stable alligator population, which is estimated at 1.3 million and consists of alligators of every size. They are an important part of Florida’s ecosystem, but should be regarded with caution and respect.


During spring when temperatures rise, alligators become more active. Although alligator incidents are rare, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recommends taking precautions when having fun in and around the water. Alligators inhabit all 67 counties in Florida and can be found anywhere there is standing water. Reduce the chances of conflicts with alligators by swimming only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Also keep pets on a leash and away from the water.


Because alligators control their body temperature by basking in the sun, they may be easily observed. However, the FWC urges people to keep their distance if they see one. And never feed alligators as it is dangerous and illegal.


The FWC places the highest priority on public safety and administers a Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program to address complaints concerning specific alligators. People with concerns about an alligator should call the FWC’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286). SNAP uses contracted nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators 4 feet in length or greater that are believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property. The FWC also works diligently to keep Floridians and visitors informed, including providing advice about Living with Alligators.


Learn more about alligators at MyFWC.com/Alligator.




All Pensacola Beach residents should be aware that they must be compliant with the Escambia County Exterior Light ordinance by 2018.


(352) 373-6441; www.conserveturtles.org


You can read more about the lighting ordinance by visiting






2017 Data


Location # of surveys # of tracks # of nests # of heads
Perdido 11 0 0 0
Pensacola Beach 1 0 0 0
Upper Escambia Bay 4 0 0 ~ 160*
Lower Escambia Bay 0 0 0 0
Navarre 0 0 0 0
Navarre Beach 6 0 0 0
Hurlburt Field 1 0 0 0
Okaloosa Co. 1 0 0 0
Hogtown Bayou 1 0 0 0
  • 150 heads have not been confirmed terrapins




We are good to go!


SEARCH #1 – JUNE 24 – 8:00 – 12:00

Shoreline Park, Gulf Breeze – contact Chris Verlinde – chrismv@ufl.edu

Big Lagoon, Perdido – contact Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu


SEARCH #2 – AUG 5 – 8:00 – 12:00

Same locations, same contact


Volunteers will need their own mask fins and snorkel

You should have a team of no fewer than 3

Some locations require a boat, others do not, please let us know if you are a boat team


You can read the 2016 scallop report at










Pre-tournament tournament

  • 16 divers participated
  • 2175 lionfish submitted
  • Tim Shivers, Deepwater Mafia 1 – submitted the most (451 lionfish)



LRAD tournament

  • 12 dive teams participated
  • 3868 lionfish submitted
  • 1st place team – “Hang On” – submitted 926 lionfish
  • Largest lionfish – “Reef Cleaners” – 17.09 inches
  • Smallest lionfish – “Texas Lionfish Control Unit” – 2.91 iniches








Lionfish Trap Study Moving Along

Coast Watch Alliance has been working with researchers to develop effective traps for lionfish. View video if one trap design at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6RDCl6Vl_M


Commercial Saltwater Products Lionfish to Sell Lionfish

If you are a diver and interested in harvesting lionfish commercially, contact Sea Grant Agent Rick O’Connor for information on how to get started. (850) 475-5230. Roc1@ufl.edu.


If you have private reefs that you feel may need to be cleaned of lionfish – contact me at the Extension Office or email.



Beach Vitex

Have new fact sheet posted. You can find it at



Searching for Cuban Tree Frogs

The word is that folks are already hearing calling frogs. So, if you are interested in monitoring for Cuban Tree Frogs view this link to learn how to set up PVC pipe to do so. If you do decide to help us monitor – please contact me and let me know where in the area you are monitoring so we can keep track. Any reports of CTF please send my way.


If you have questions please contact me. Roc1@ufl.edu (850) 475-5230.







Perdido United Methodist Church Natural Trail – “The Way”


Florida Master Naturalist Jerry Patee and MANY volunteers have developed a new nature trail in the Perdido area.  Located on the property of the Perdido United Methodist Church, it is called THE WAY. Read more about this trail by visiting https://thewayperdido.com/.



Local Seafood in Peak Season for May


Blue Crab

Clams – cultured in Cedar Key are available year round

Crawfish – Louisiana only

Mahi-Mahi – FL only

Brown Shrimp

White Shrimp

Pink Shrimp

Snapper – availability is dependent on current regulations, check with local markets

Yellowtail Snapper – in peak season but more common in south Florida

Spanish Mackerel – AL/MS only


Source: Gulf Coast Seafood; Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation



If you own a nature tourism business we are trying to provide information that you may need to improve your business. If you have questions or needs, please contact me.


We are working with several agencies, the county, and the state of Alabama to develop a paddle trail that will include Perdido River and connect it to the state paddle trail that begins at Big Lagoon State Park. More info on this project as it unfolds.


If you are looking to explore the natural side of the panhandle check out Naturally EscaRosa at http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/naturally-escarosa/index.php. To find some good ideas. You can also download the app from the app store. DOWNLOAD! AND FIND US ON FACEBOOK – we are going to begin posting information from different businesses on our FB page – FOLLOW US AND LEARN MORE ABOUT LOCAL NATURE AND FARM TOURS.


Florida Master Naturalist Program

COASTAL MODULE – June 6 – July 11

For more information on the class and to register visit – http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/fmnp/courses.html#coastal.


Panhandle Outdoors LIVE

Aug 17             Artificial Reefs                         Navarre Beach

Sep 19-21        St. Joe Bay                               St. Joe FL

Oct 24              Coastal Dune Lakes                  South Walton Co.

Oct 26              Natural Resource Field Day      UF West Florida Research and Education Center – Jay


Registration coming soon





Reporting Goliath Grouper

Dr. Angela Collins, Florida Sea Grant, is tracking goliath grouper throughout the state of Florida. She is particularly interested in records from the panhandle and has an easy way to report.  If you fish or dive and encounter one of these fish, please visit the follow website and report it.




Jun 16 – Sep 10

Dixie and Taylor counties in the Big Bend

All state waters from the Suwannee River to Fenholloway River


July 1 – Sep 24

All state waters from Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Day Beach #4 in Levey County. North and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County to the western most point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.


July 25 – Sept 10

St. Joe Bay (Gulf County), West of St. Vincent Island (Franklin County)

Westward up to the Mexico Beach Canal (Bay County)


Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.



Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/marine/2016/11/18/sea-grant-notes-nov-18-2016/