Panhandle Outdoors

In Search of Horseshoe Crabs

In Search of Horseshoe Crabs

Back in the spring, I wrote an article about the natural history of this ancient animal. However, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is interested in the status of horseshoe crabs and they need to know locations where they are breeding – and Florida Sea Grant is trying to help.

Horseshoe crabs breeding on the beach.
Photo: Florida Sea Grant

If you are not familiar with the horseshoe crab, it is a bizarre looking creature. At first glance, you might mistake it for a stingray.  It has the same basic shape and a long spine for a tail.  But further observation you would realize it is not a stingray at all.

 

So then… What is it?

 

When you find one, most are not comfortable with the idea of picking it up to look closer. The spine is probably dangerous and there are numerous smaller spines on the body.  Actually, the long spine in the tail region is not dangerous.  It is called a telson and is most often used by the animal to push through the environment when needed, as well as righting itself when upside down.  It is on a ball-and-socket joint and if you pick them up, they will swing it around – albeit slowly – but it is of no danger.  Note though, do not pick them up by the telson – this can damage them.

 

If you do try to pick them up with your hands on their sides, you will find they are well armored and have numerous clawed legs on the bottom side. At first, you are thinking it is a crab, and the claws are going to pinch, but again we would be mistaken.  The claws are quite harmless – they even tickle when handled.  I have held them to allow kids to place their hands in there to feel this.  However, when held they will bend their abdomen between 90° and 120°, as if attempting to roll into a ball – which they cannot.  At this point, they become difficult to hold.  Your hands feel they are in the way and the small spines on the side of the abdomen begin to pierce your skin.  So, you flip it on its back.  It begins to try a 90° bend in the other direction and begins to swing the telson around.  This is probably the most comfortable position for you to hold – but I am not sure what the crab thinks about it.

 

So, what do you have?

 

Well, you can see why they call it a crab. It has clawed legs and a hard shell.  The body is very segmented.  You can also see why it is called a “horseshoe”.  But actually, it is not a crab.

 

Crabs are crustaceans. Crustaceans have two body segments – a head and abdomen, no middle thorax as found on insects.  This is the case with the horse crab as well.

 

Crustaceans have 10-segmented legs, though the claw (cheliped) and swimming paddles (swimmerets) of the blue crab count as “segmented legs”. Horseshoe crabs have 10 as well – seems this IS a crab – but wait…

 

Crustaceans have two sets of antenna – two short ones and two long – horseshoe crabs do not have any antenna. Traditionally biologists have divided arthropods into two subphyla – those with antenna and those without – so the horseshoe crab is not a crab.  It is actually more closely related to spiders, ticks, and scorpions.

Blue crabs are one of the few crabs with swimming appendages.
Photo: Molly O’Connor

It is an ancient animal, fossil horseshoe crabs in this form date back over 440 million years – out dating the dinosaurs. There are four different species of today and there probably were more species in the past.  Their range extends from the tropics and temperate coastlines of the planet.  Today three of the remaining four species live in Southeast Asia.  The fourth, Limulus polyphemus, lives along the eastern and Gulf coast of the United States.

 

Unfortunately, this neat and ancient creature is becoming rare in some parts of its range. There is a commercial harvest for them.  Their blood is actually blue and contains properties beneficially in medicine.  Smaller ones are used as bait in the eel fishery, and there is always the classic loss of habitat.  These are estuarine creatures and are often found in seagrass and muddy bottom habitats where they forage on bottom dwelling (benthic) animals.

 

FWC is interested in where horseshoe crabs still breed in our state. Some Sea Grant Agents in the panhandle are assisting by working with locals to report sightings.  Sea Grant also has a citizen scientist tagging program to help assess their status.  Horseshoe crabs typically breed in the spring and fall during the new and full moons.  On those days, they are most likely to lay their eggs along the shoreline during the high tide.  This month the full moon is October 5 and the new moon is October 19.  We ask locals who live along the coast to search for breeding pairs on October 4-6 and October 18-20 during high tides.  If you find breeding pairs, or better yet, animals along the beach laying eggs – please contact your local Sea Grant Agent.  We will conduct these surveys in the spring and fall of 2018 and post best search dates at that time.

 

For more information on the biology of this animal read http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/marine/2017/04/10/our-ancient-mariner-the-horseshoe-crab/.

 

 

References

 

Barnes, R.D. 1980. Invertebrate Zoology. Saunders College Publishing. Philadelphia PA. pp 1089.

 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Facts About Horseshoe Crabs https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207135801.htm

 

Oldest Horseshoe Crab Fossil Found, 445 Million Years Old https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207135801.htm

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/06/in-search-of-horseshoe-crabs/

The Benefits of a Living Shoreline

The Benefits of a Living Shoreline

Imagine this…

You are a sailor on a 16th century Spanish galleon anchored in a Florida Bay south of Tampa. You, along with others, are ordered to go ashore for a scouting trip to set up a base camp.  You transfer over to a small skiff and row ashore to find a forest of root tangled mangroves.  There is no dry beach to land so you disembark at the edge of the trees in knee-deep water.  The bottom is sandy and your footing is good but you must literally crawl through the tangled mess of mangrove prop roots to finding dry ground.  As you do, you encounter spider webs, numerous biting insects, and the bottom becomes muddy and footing is less stable.  I am sure I would have returned to the ship to report to the captain that there is nothing of value here – let’s go back to Spain!

The dense vegetation of a black mangrove swamp in south Florida.
Photo: UF IFAS

Along the shores of northwest Florida it would have been different only that they would have encountered acres of grass instead of trees. The approach to Pensacola would have found a long beach of white sand and dunes.  Entering the bay, they would have found salt marshes growing in the protected areas, with the rare exception of dryer bluffs in some spots – which is where de Luna chose to anchor.  These marshes are easier to traverse than the emergent root system of the mangrove, but the muck and mire of the muddy bottom and biting insects still remain.

 

For centuries, Europeans have sought to alter these habitats to make them more suitable for colonization. Whether that was for log forts and houses or marinas and golf courses, we have cleared the vegetation and filled the muck with fill dirt. But have we lost something by doing this?

 

Yes… Yes we have, and some of what we have lost is valuable to us.

 

We have lost our water quality.

These emergent shoreline plants filter debris running from shore to the sea during rain events. The muck and mire we encounter within the marsh would otherwise entered the bay or bayou.  Here it would cloud the water and smother the submerge seagrasses.  My father-in-law told me that as a kid growing up on Bayou Texar in Pensacola he remembered clear water and seagrasses.  He remembered throwing a cast net and collecting 4-5″ shrimp.

 

That has changed.

In our modern world, it is not just mud that is running off towards our bays. We can add lawn fertilizers, lawn and garden pesticides, oils and grease from cleaning, and a multitude of other products – including plastics.

 

We have seen a decline in living resources.

The large shrimp my father-in-law talked about are not as common. He spoke of snapper – very few now.  Bay scallops are basically gone in Pensacola and have declined across much of Florida’s gulf coast. Horseshoe crabs have become rare in many locations.  Moreover, salt marsh/mangrove dependent species, such as diamondback terrapins, are difficult to find.

Storm drains, such as this one, discharge run-off into local bays and bayous.
Photo: Rick O’Connor

Maybe of more concern is the decline of commercially important aquatic species such as crabs, shrimp, and finfish. It is known that 80-90% of these commercially important species spend at least part of their lives in the marshes and mangroves.

 

And this we are losing.

 

And then there is the shoreline itself.

The emergent plants the Spanish encountered actually act as a wave break. Sand running off the land is trapped to form a “beach”, albeit a mucky one, and the wave energy is absorbed by the plants reducing the energy reaching the shore.  The damage in south Florida from hurricane Andrew was devastating.  But that same storm made a second landfall in the marshes of Louisiana and there was little to write about – the marsh absorbed much of the energy.  The removal of these vegetated shorelines has enhanced the loss of coastline across the Gulf States.

 

Can we restore these shores and return these “services”?

 

Yes…

Whether communities want to or not is another question, but we can.

Studies have shown that a marsh 10′ across from water to land can remove 90% of the nutrients running off. Nutrients can trigger hypereutrophic conditions in the bay – which can lead to algal blooms – which can lead to low dissolved oxygen – which can lead to fish kills and seagrass loss.  In addition to removing nutrients, marshes and mangroves can remove a variety of other contaminants and plastics.  Many sewage treatment facilities discharge their treated effluent through the coastal plant communities before it reaches the bay, thus improving water quality.

 

We know that restoring a living shoreline will enhance the biological productivity of the bay. Studies have shown that swamps and marshes can produce an annual mean net primary production of between 8000 – 9000 kcal/m2/year, which is equivalent to tropical rainforest and the open estuary itself.

 

Finally, living shorelines will stabilize erosion issues, much longer than seawalls and other harden structures. Studies have shown that seawalls will eventually give in.  Wave energy is increased when it meets the wall and reflects back.  This generates higher energy waves that decrease seagrasses and actually begins to remove sediment around the wall itself.  You will see the land begin to erode behind the wall and eventually it begins to fall forward into the bay.  The east coast of Florida recently experienced this during hurricane Irma.  Interestingly the west coast experienced negative tides.  The exposure of these seawalls to an empty bay had the same effect.  Without the water pressure to hold them, they began to crack and fall forward.  A living shoreline can sustain all of this.

FDEP planting a living shoreline on Bayou Texar in Pensacola.
Photo: FDEP

So how do restore my shoreline?

 

  1. You will need a permit. The state of Florida owns land from the mean high tide seaward. To plant above this line you do not need a permit, but you will want to plant at and below to truly restore and benefit from the services. Permitting can be simple or complicated – each property is different. Visit http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/permitting-living-shorelines/ to learn more about the process.
  2. You will need plants. There are a few nurseries that provide the needed species. There is a zonation to the plant community and it is important to put the right plant in the right place. The above link can help with this and the Extension office is happy to visit your location and give recommendations.
  3. You will need to plant them. Fall and spring are good planting times. A recent project we helped with planted in April and it has been very successful.
  4. You may want to monitor the success of your project. This not needed, but if interested the Extension office we can show how to do this.I certainly understand why many would rather remove these shoreline ecosystems, but I think you can see the benefits outweigh the problems. It is not an all or none deal. Living shorelines can be designed to allow water access. If interested in learning more contact your county Extension office.

 

I certainly understand why many would rather remove these shoreline ecosystems, but I think you can see the benefits outweigh the problems. It is not an all or none deal.  Living shorelines can be designed to allow water access.  If interested in learning more contact your county Extension office.

 

References

 

Permitting a Living Shoreline; can a living shoreline work for you? http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/permitting-living-shorelines/.

Miller Jr., G.T., S.E. Spoolman. 2011. Living in the Environment: Concepts, Connections, and Solutions. 16th edition. Brooks and Cole Cengage Learning. Pp. 674.

 

Sharma, S. J. Goff, J. Cebrian, C. Ferraro. 2016. A Hybrid Shoreline Stabilization Technique: Impact of Modified Intertidal Reefs on Marsh Expansion and Nekton Habitat in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Ecological Engineering 90. Pp 352-360.

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/10/06/the-benefits-of-a-living-shoreline/

Microplastics Awareness Month

Microplastics Awareness Month

For almost 40 years, the Ocean Conservancy has held the International Coastal Cleanup in September. Across the planet hundreds of thousands of volunteers clean marine debris from their shorelines.  The data collected is used by local agencies to manage this problem; such as discontinuing the use of pull tops from aluminum cans.  In the last couple of years researchers are trying to make the public aware of another form of plastic most know little about – microplastics.

“Nurdle” are primary microplastics that are produced to stuff toys and can be melt down to produce other products.
Photo: Maia McGuire

Microplastics are defined as pieces measuring 5 mm in length or smaller. These can be large pieces of common plastics that been degraded by sea and sun.  They can be small pellets called nurdles that are melted down and poured into molds to produce common plastic products or used to stuff toys.  They can also be small beads used as fillers in personal care products, such as toothpaste.  Those that are manufactured at this size are called primary microplastics; those that degrade to this size are secondary microplastics.

 

How Do They Find Their Way to Local Waterways?

 

The sources of secondary microplastics is obvious. We either intentional or unintentionally discard our waste into the environment.  According to data collected by the local nonprofit group Ocean Hour, cigarette butts are the number item collected during weekly cleanups.  Many are not aware that much of the material in a cigarette butt is actually plastic fibers, and many butts are tossed to the ground intentionally.  Adhered to these fibers are the products of smoke we are concerned with in our own health – tar, nicotine, and ethylphenol.

 

Ocean Hours data show other forms of plastics (bags, wrappers, cups, bottles, and caps) are very common. These items are discarded directly, or indirectly, into the environment and eventually end up in our bays and oceans – “all drains lead to sea kid”.  Here they are eventually broken down.  Some scientists believe all the plastic ever produced is still in the sea, continuing to breakdown smaller but never really going away.  I viewed a webinar within the last year where a researcher from the west coast was discussing the “great plastic island” in the Pacific.  She showed a photo from the location and you did not really see a lot of large plastic drifting.  However, a plankton tow revealed large amounts of microplastics.

Marine debris collected by Ocean Hour during the first half of 2017.
Image: Ethan Barker

Less common are the primary microplastics… but they are there. According to our monitoring in the Pensacola Bay Area, they make up about 20% of the microplastics found.  When we wash our faces, or brush our teeth, with plastic filled products these microplastics are washed down the drain to the local sewer treatment facility.  Here they remain on the surface of the water that is being treated and are eventually discharged into wetlands, or directly into a water body.

 

Are These Microplastics Having a Negative Impact on the Environment?

 

Locally, we are monitoring 22 stations. We are finding an average of 9 pieces of microplastic / 100ml of sample (little more than 3 ounces).  This equates to a lot of microplastic in our bay. Science does know that these are small enough to be swallowed by zooplankton in our water column.  It plugs their digestive tract and gives them the sensation of being full.  Thus, they stop eating and starve.  A decline zooplankton, a key component of most aquatic food chains, could affect economically important members higher up the food chain.

 

Laboratory studies show it may be affecting lower on the food web. When subjected to water containing microplastics, the microalgae Chorella reduced its uptake of carbon dioxide; thus reducing photosynthesis.

 

In larger species, microplastics have been found in the tissue of some bivalves, including those commercially harvested for human consumption. There is little evidence connecting health related problems of either the bivalve or the human consumer, to microplastic consumption – but there is concern.

 

There is evidence showing chemical contaminants adhere to the plastics and can increase their concentrations 1 million times. Swallowing plastics with high concentrations of Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and DDT (all of which have been found on microplastics) could be problematic.

 

There is also concern of bioaccumulation of these contaminants as they move through the food chain, but little evidence that it does. There is also little research on the leaching of toxic products from these plastics and their impacts.  In his recent publication on the status of water quality in Pensacola Bay, Dr. Mike Lewis agrees that more attention needs to be paid to microplastics.

These microfibers are from the inside of cigarette butts and a common form of microplastic in our waters.
Photo: Maia Mcguire

What Can We Do About the Microplastic Issue?

 

  1. Cut back on your use of plastics. Easier said than done, our world is full of plastic, but there are a few things you can do:
  2. a) choose not to use straws when eating out.
  3. b) purchase a good water bottle and take it with you. Many locations where we purchase coffee or fountain drinks you can use this bottle instead of their foam or plastic cups.

 

  1. Change your habits and product choices.

Personal care products with microplastics will have polyethylene on the ingredient label; if it does – choose a different one. There is a website that lists many of these products.

Http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov.

 

  1. If possible, wear clothing made of natural fibers.

 

Being aware of the microplastic problem is the first step in correcting it.

 

 

References

 

Unpublished data analyzed by the Escambia County Division of Marine Resources and Florida Sea Grant.

 

Yang, Y., I.A. Rodriguez-Jorquera, M. McGuire, G.S. Toor. 2015. Contaminants in the Urban Environment: Microplastics.  Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS). 6 pages. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SS/SS64900.pdf.

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/22/microplastics-awareness-month/

Wildlife Food Plots for North Florida

Big Buck on the Move – Photo Credit Shep Eubanks, UF/IFAS

About this time each year the minds of sportsman and wildlife aficionados turn towards the planting of wildlife food plots for use by wildlife  in fall, winter , and early spring.  There are many factors to consider when planting a fall food plot if you want to be successful in the endeavor.  Food plots can be  an effective method of providing food sources for game birds, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and other species.  The size of food plots vary according to landowner preferences and the requirements of the target wildlife species, but usually they are a minimum of 1/2 to 1 acre in size, with a maximum of 5 acres.

Location is a an important consideration when planning the plot as the most effective plots typically are located adjacent to sanctuary or escape cover that provides security for wildlife.  Food plots that meander along edges of of two or there converging types of cover, such as the edge created where pine plantations, hardwood bottoms, and agricultural fields intersect, are very attractive to wildlife and provide natural travel corridors, in addition to providing a high nutrition food source.

Successful planting of your crop begins with soil sampling.  Having the proper pH in your food plot is of paramount importance.  A pH of 6.5 is ideal for winter annual grasses and legumes in North Florida.  As an Ag Agent I have seen more food plot disasters because a landowner did not take time to soil test than any other reason.  The soil test will also guide you in applying proper fertilization to optimize productivity of your food plots.  Food plots are expensive  to establish and you want to avoid needless mistakes such as poor fertility that will yield poor results.

Preparation of a good seedbed is also very important as is selection of seeds that are adapted to our area.  UF/IFAS has developed some excellent resources that will assist you in selecting forages that do well in our area such as, A Walk on the Wild Side: 2013 Cool-Season Forage Recommendations for Wildlife Food Plots in North FloridaAnother Excellent reference is Establishing and Maintaining Wildlife Food Sources.

Now is the time to make your preparations for planting your successful cool season food plot here in North Florida! hopefully you will have the experience of seeing and enjoying wildlife as pictured in photo 2 and photo 3!

For more information on planting successful food plots this fall, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

Photo 2. Nice Buck grazing woods edge food plot in North Florida   Photo Credit – Shep Eubanks, UF/IFAS

Photo 3. Gobbler and Hen Standing in Crimson Clover
Photo Credit – Shep Eubanks, UF/IFAS

 

 

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Author: Shep Eubanks – bigbuck@ufl.edu

Shep Eubanks is the County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent in Gadsden County.

Shep Eubanks

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/22/wildlife-food-plots-for-north-florida/

The Bumble Bee – One of Florida’s Vital Pollinators

The Bumble Bee – One of Florida’s Vital Pollinators

Cotton is largely self-pollinating but attractive to bees. Pollination by bees can increase seed set per boll. Photo by Judy Biss

“The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist.
For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.”
Jacques Yves Cousteau

Bumble bees are among the most recognizable types of insects. They are large, colorful, and a wonder to watch.  They’re also popularized in media, cartoons, and clip-art images, but beyond the popular images, bumble bees are worthy of our attention as important pollinators of both native plants and agricultural crops.  They are one of hundreds of pollinating bees that are critical to the abundance of our native lands, wildlife, and also our food supply.  Protection of pollinators has received national recognition and many programs are now geared towards pollinator conservation. 

Why is Pollinator Protection Important?

According to the UF/IFAS publication Minimizing Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides:

The western honey bee is conceivably the most important pollinator in Florida and American agricultural landscapes. The honey bee is credited with approximately 85% of the pollinating activity necessary to supply about one-quarter to one-third of the nation’s food supply. Over 50 major crops in the United States and at least 13 in Florida either depend on honey bees for pollination or produce more abundantly when honey bees are plentiful.

And:

 “Growers also use other managed bees species, such as the bumble bee to provide field and greenhouse crop pollination services. Additionally, there are more than 315 species of wild/unmanaged bees in Florida that play a role in the pollination of agricultural crops and natural and managed landscapes. These include mining bees, mason bees, sweat bees, leafcutter bees, feral honey bees, and carpenter bees, among others.”

Pollinator Protection was formally recognized at the federal level in 2014 when the President of the United States signed an official memorandum entitled: Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators  which outlines specific steps to increase and improve pollinator habitat. These steps are geared towards protecting and restoring populations of not only honey bees, but native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies; all of which are vital to our nation’s economy, food production, and environmental health.

Bumble Bee Biology and Ecology

There is much to learn about these fascinating insects.  Here are some facts to feed your curiosity.  Additional resources are listed at the end of this article.

  • Bumble bees belong to the genus Bombus within the family Apidae. As such, they are related to honey bees, carpenter bees, cuckoo bees, digger bees, stingless bees, and orchid bees.
  • There are about 50 species of North American bumble bees.
  • Bumble bees are social and form colonies like honey bees do, but bumble bee colonies are smaller (50 – 500 individuals) and their colonies only last one season.
  • Bumble bees generally make their nests in the ground using abandoned rodent cavities or under old tree roots, etc.
  • Each spring, a mated queen emerges from winter hibernation and finds a suitable underground cavity. She begins collecting nectar and pollen and laying eggs to build her colony.
  • By late summer and into fall, the only surviving member of the colony are new queens.
  • These queens mate and then they hibernate during winter 2-5 inches deep in the soil. The following spring these queens emerge and start new colonies, repeating the annual cycle.
  • Bumble bees are adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions and can forage in cooler, cloudier, and wetter weather better than other bees. Because of this adaptation, they are generally the first bees out in early spring and the last bees out in the fall.
  • Since bumble bees are adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions, they are also able to feed on a wide variety of flowering plants.
  • Bumble bees do make honey, but only enough to feed the colony during bad weather when they are unable to go out and forage.
  • Bumble bees, like the blueberry bee collect pollen from certain flowers using a unique behavior called “buzz pollination,” or “sonication.” This behavior is not found in European honey bees. Some plants, blueberries for example, hold tightly to their tiny pollen.  Bumble bees and blueberry bees grab the flower structure and powerfully vibrate their wings while holding onto the flower.  Their whole body vibrates and literally shakes the pollen lose from the flower.
  • Besides blueberries, other commercially important food crops that benefit from “buzz pollination” include, tomatoes, peppers, and cranberries.
  • Bumble bees are so effective at pollinating important food crops that they are raised commercially and sold to greenhouses to pollinate produce such as tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries.

Create Your Own Pollinator Pasture

You can help increase the abundance and health of bumble bees, other native pollinators, and honey bees by creating nectar and pollen rich bee pastures.  These pastures can be filled with annual plants, which grow from seed each year, perennial plants, which return and spread on their own each year, various flowering shrubs and trees, or any mixture of above. You can also manage existing natural areas and woodlands by employing recommended prescribed fire regimes, non-native invasive plant control, and other practices to encourage a diversity of native pollinator plants.

The ideal bee pasture is one in which flowers are blooming as continuously as possible throughout the year. Research shows bees thrive best in open sunny pastures that are as large as possible, with a diversity of plants types. While flowering shrubs along woodland edges are well used by bees, a bee pasture that is allowed to become dominated by trees and shade will become less attractive to bees. A dedicated, open, sunny pasture having nectar and pollen plant diversity is best.  Just as with any field you intend to plant, the first step is to collect a soil sample for analysis of existing nutrients and pH levels. (For more information on soil samples read the article Soil Test First!

Pollinator Plant Types

There are many plants that provide nutritious nectar and pollen for north Florida’s pollinators. Some examples of plants which are good pollinator food sources are maple trees, redbuds, poplars, gallberries, blackberries, palmettos, partridge pea, mint, thistles, goldenrod, asters, tickseeds, sunflowers, squash, melons, and clovers. If you purchase a bee pasture blend from a seed company, make sure it is suited for growing in north Florida and does not contain noxious, invasive, weedy plant species. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council maintains a listing of documented invasive plants here: List of Invasive Plant Species.

Summary and Resources

The business, biology, and botany of pollination is fascinating and critical to sustainable and diverse food production in Florida and the United States. Bumble bees are just one of the many native pollinators that frequent our forests, fields, and gardens.  Consider turning your fallow lands or backyards into productive bee pasture and reap a sweet harvest.

For more information please see the resources used for this article below:

 

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Author: Judy Biss – judy.biss@ufl.edu

Judy Biss is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Biss

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/22/the-bumble-bee-one-of-floridas-vital-pollinators/

DNA Barcoding Our Way into Understanding the Lionfish Problem

DNA Barcoding Our Way into Understanding the Lionfish Problem

In the late 1980’s a few exotic lionfish were found off the coast of Dania Florida. I do not think anyone foresaw the impact this was going to have.  Producing tens of thousands of drifting eggs per female each week, they began to disperse following the Gulf Stream.  First in northeast Florida, then the Carolina’s, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.  The invasion was one of the more dramatic ones seen in nature.

The Invasive Lionfish

Lionfish are found on a variety of structures, both natural and artificial, and are known from shallow estuaries to depths of 1000 feet in the ocean. They are opportunistic feeders, engulfing whatever is within their range and fits in their mouths, and have few predators due to their neurotoxicity spines. These fish are well-designed eating machines with a high reproductive rate, and perfectly adapted to invading new territories, if they can get there.

 

And they got here…

 

Like so many other invasive species, humans brought them to our state. Some arrive intentionally, some by accident, but we brought them.  Lionfish came to Florida intentionally as an aquarium fish.  Beautiful and exotic, they are popular at both public aquariums and with hobbyists… Then they escaped.

 

So what now?

 

What impact will these opportunistic fish have on the local environment? On the local economy?

This is, in essence, the definition of an invasive species. The potential for a negative impact on either the ecosystem or local fishing is there.  We now know they are found on many local reefs, in many cases the dominant fish in the community.  We know they can produce an average of 25,000 fertilized per female per week and breed most of the year.  We also know they consume a variety of reef fish, about 70 species have been reported from their stomachs.

Over 70 species of small reef fish have been found in the stomachs of lionfish; including red snapper.
Photo: Bryan Clark

However, what impact is this having on local fisheries?

 

Well, we do know there have been more reports of fishermen catching them on hook and line. We also know that scientists are examining the DNA of their stomach content that cannot be identified visually, and some of the results indicate commercially valuable species are on the menu.

 

Area high school students are now conducting dissections using this same methodology. Under the direction of Dr. Jeff Eble, over 900 area high school students examined the stomach contents of local lionfish last year.  Students from Escambia, Gulf Breeze, Navarre, Pensacola, Washington, and West Florida high schools – along with Woodlawn Middle School – identified 16 different species in lionfish stomachs.  Of economic concern were snapper; 42% of the prey identified were Vermillion Snapper – 4% were Red Snapper.

 

Though the consumption of non-commercial species can affect the population of commercial ones, the direct consumption of commercial species is concerning. The commercial value of Vermillion Snapper landed in Escambia County in 2016 was about $ 800,000 (highest in the state).

 

This year two more high schools will participate in the dissection portion of this project; those being Tate and Pine Forest. These students need lionfish and we are seeking donations from local divers to help support this project.  If interested in helping, please contact me at roc1@ufl.edu or (850) 475-5230.

 

 

References

 

Dahl, K.A. W.F. Patterson III. 2014. Habitat-Specific Density and Diet of Rapidly Expanding Invasive Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans), Populations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. PLOS ONE. Vol 9 (8). Pp. 13.

 

FWC Commercial Landing Summaries. 2017. https://public.myfwc.com/FWRI/PFDM/ReportCreator.aspx.

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/15/dna-barcoding-our-way-into-understanding-the-lionfish-problem/

The American Alligator: a new nuisance for the panhandle?

The American Alligator: a new nuisance for the panhandle?

I recently saw a photograph of an American Alligator (Alligator mississppiensis) crossing Perdido Key Drive on a heavy rain day.  This encounter would surprise some, and unnerve many.  The majority of the nuisance wildlife calls I receive are for snakes.  I have never received a call for an alligator but no doubt, my colleagues in central and south Florida have.  They certainly will with the landfall of Irma.  Just as humans relocate for storms, wildlife does as well.  High, dry ground is a need for all, and as our friends return to their homes after the storm, they will no doubt encounter creatures in the debris that can be a bit unnerving.

Alligator basking on a shoreline; photo: UF/IFAS Communications

“Nuisance” is in the eye of the beholder. Defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as being annoying, unpleasant, or obnoxious, a nuisance species is one we would rather not have in our yard.  Snakes are one of those.  Most of the people who call about snakes wish them no harm; they just do not want them on their porch or in their pool.  Venomous snakes in particular raise anxiety levels, especially when children or pets are around.  Though we do not get many calls on alligators, the feeling a homeowner would have if they found one in their driveway would be the same.

 

There were no calls on the alligator on Perdido Key. Actually, not everyone believed the photo to be legit.  I cannot verify it, but I did receive a call earlier this summer when an American alligator was found swimming and basking on a Gulf beach in Navarre and later near Ft. Pickens.  Though not as common as they are in central and south Florida, alligators do live here and they are found on our barrier islands.  Though encounters with them are rare, how should a homeowner deal with this potential nuisance? When I give a program on snakes I typically go over four points.  Let us go over the same with the alligators.

 

Is it venomous or not?

Obviously, this is not a question here – no crocodilian is venomous. They do have bacteria in their mouths that have caused problems for some who have survived an attack, but there is no venom.  However, in south Florida identification is still important because there is more than one crocodilian roaming the landscape.  The American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is a native species found in coastal waters of south Florida, the northern reach of its range.  The Speckled Caiman (Caiman crocodylus) is an exotic species from Central and South America that is now found in freshwater canals and lakes of southeastern Florida.  It is likely that post Irma cleanup will include encounters with these two.  However, this is not likely for the panhandle – our winters are too cold.

 

How do I avoid encounters?

Generally encounters with nuisance wildlife occur for one of two reasons; (a) we have moved into their habitat or (b), they have come to us.

With the population of Florida growing at an ever increasing rate, currently 21 million people and a growth rate of 1.77%, development continues to expand into habitat where these animals have remained out of our sight for some time. As we continue to move into these habitats, encounters with nuisance wildlife will increase. They will be forced to visit our yards and pools.  It is no different with bears.

In other cases we, either knowing or unknowingly, provide food and shelter for them. Predators tend to select the easiest prey to kill, the ones that take the less energy.  Human development tends to provide habitat for vermin, such as rats, in concentrated areas.  This makes hunting for predators, such as snakes, bears, and alligators, much easier – and they will take advantage of this.

 

With alligators, (a) is more problematic than (b). Alligators have a natural fear of humans and do not typically seek us out looking for easy prey.  They seem to prefer to live and hunt away from us.  However, feeding alligators changes this and thus, it is a felony to do so in our state.  In 2015, the state legislature developed a tiered penalty system for assessing fines and charges.  As we continue to develop in areas where alligators live, it will be harder to avoid encountering them.

 

What do I do if I encounter one?

The general nature of wildlife is reacting to predators, prey, reproduction, and shelter. Alligators are top predators and feed on a variety of species.  They are opportunistic hunters, selecting prey they can easily swallow and are relatively easy to catch.  Much of these are smaller animals.  If the opportunity to make a large kill presents itself, they will – however, they will drown the creature and leave it underwater to soften the carcass so they can swallow.

 

The method of capture usually involves lying still and waiting for prey to move within range. If encountering an alligator the questions that come to mind are: (1) am I within range?  (2) are we near water? – remember they need to submerged large prey.  Keep in mind that small children and pets are easier prey and care should taken when in alligator habitat.

 

Resources provide the following suggestions if an encounter occurs:

  1. They have a nature fear of humans and will try to retreat. This is true. Provide an avenue of escape for the animal. Do your best not to corner it.  Remember it may react to pets and children as prey and could approach.
  2. If they hiss, they are warning you that you are getting too close and they are feeling threatened. Back away slowly. Sudden movements could be misinterpreted and they may defend themselves by attacking.
  3. Keep in mind they are fast moving for several yards, so do not think of them as slow and lethargic.
  4. Females guarding a nest may attack. They will charge to drive you off but typically return to the nest once you have moved to a safe distance (safe in their minds). Alligators build nests of leaf litter above ground in quiet water areas within their range. You may encounter one while hiking along shore. Avoid these nesting areas.

Alligator basking on the Escambia River; photo: Molly O’Connnor

And what if I’m bitten?

This question makes sense if you are talking snakes. With snakes, you are bitten and the snake withdraws.  So the question comes up, now what? Not so much with alligators.  Though alligators tend to feed on smaller and softer prey, as they increase in age and size, their skull structure adjust to where they can crush turtle shells and mammal bones.  Forces have been recorded between 12 and 9452 Newtons, depending on age.  When they bite they do not typically withdraw, but rather will drag you into water.  Do whatever you can to avoid being dragged into water.  Since 1948 there have been 388 alligator attacks, 24 were fatal.  That averages to 6 attacks/year statewide and about 1 fatality every 4 years – so it is not very common.  But remember, human development is encroaching and we will need to learn to live with them as our ancestors did when the animals were more numerous.

 

In Florida, an alligator is not considered a nuisance unless it is at least 4 feet in length. If you feel there is a nuisance alligator in your neighborhood you can call.

1-866-FWC-GATOR

 

References

 

American Crocodile: Species Profile. National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/crocodile.htm.

 

Caiman. 2017. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/american-crocodile/caiman/.

 

Erickson, G.M., A.K. Lappin., A.K. Vilet. 2003. The Ontogeny of Bite-Force Performance in American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Journal of Zoology. Vol 260 (3). Pp. 317-327. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-zoology/article/the-ontogeny-of-bite-force-performance-in-american-alligator-alligator-mississippiensis/150E92D79C5FAEB821DDBF563888E773. P

 

Florida Population 2017: Demographics, Maps, and Graphs. 2017. World Population Review. http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/florida-population/.

 

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nuisance.

 

Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program. 2017. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/alligator/nuisance/.

 

Swiman, E., M. Hostetler, S. Webb Miller, M. Main. 2017. Living with Alligators: A Florida Reality. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Extension Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) publication WEC203.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW23000.pdf.

 

Texas Parks and Wildlife. If You See An Alligator. https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/alligator/safety/index.phtml.

 

Wildlife Feeding Rules and Penalties. 2017. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. http://myfwc.com/news/resources/fact-sheets/feeding-rules-and-penalties/.

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/15/the-american-alligator-a-new-nuisance-for-the-panhandle/

Coastal Erosion–a problem with new solutions

Coastal Erosion–a problem with new solutions

Life on the Gulf Coast can be beautiful, but has its share of complications. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Life on the coast has tremendous benefits; steady sea breezes, gorgeous beaches, plentiful fishing and paddling opportunities. Nevertheless, there are definite downsides to living along it, too. Besides storms like Hurricane Harvey making semi-regular appearances, our proximity to the water can make us more vulnerable to flooding and waterborne hazards ranging from bacteria to jellyfish. One year-round problem for those living directly on a shoreline is erosion. Causes for shoreline erosion are wide-ranging; heavy boat traffic, foot traffic, storms, lack of vegetation with anchoring roots, and sea level rise.

 

Many homeowners experiencing loss of property due to erosion unwittingly contribute to it by installing seawalls. When incoming waves hit the hard surface of the wall, energy reflects back and moves down the coast. Often, an adjacent homeowner will experience increased erosion and bank scouring after a neighboring property installs a seawall. This will often lead that neighbor to install a seawall themselves, transferring the problem further.

Erosion can damage root systems of shoreline trees and grasses. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Currently, south Louisiana is experiencing significant coastal erosion and wetlands losses. The problem is compounded by several factors, including canals dredged by oil companies, which damage and break up large patches of the marsh. Subsidence, in which the land is literally sinking under the sea, is happening due to a reduced load of sediment coming down the Mississippi River. Sea level rise has contributed to erosion, and most recently, an invasive insect has caused large-scale death of over 100,000 acres of Roseau cane (Phragmites australis). Add the residual impacts from the oil spill, and you can understand the complexity of the situation.

 

Luckily, there are ways to address coastal erosion, on both the small and large scale. On Gulf and Atlantic beaches, numerous coastal communities have invested millions in beach renourishment, in which offshore sand is barged to the coast to lengthen and deepen beaches. This practice, while common, can be controversial because of the cost and risk of beaches washing out during storms and regular tides. However, as long as tourism is the #1 economic driver in the state, the return on investment seems to be worth it.

 

On quieter waters like bays and bayous, living shorelines have “taken root” as a popular method of restoring property and stabilizing shorelines. This involves planting marsh grasses along a sandy shore, often with oyster or rock breakwaters placed waterward to slow down wave energy, and allow newly planted grasses to take root.

 

Locally in Bayou Grande, a group of neighbors were experiencing shoreline erosion.  Over a span of 50 years, the property owners used a patchwork of legally installed seawalls, bulkheads, rip rap piles, private boat ramps, piers, mooring poles and just about anything else one can imagine, to reduce the problem. Over time, the seawalls and bulkheads failed, lowering the property value of the very property they were meant to protect and increasing noticeable physical damage to the adjacent properties.”

 

Project Greenshores is a large-scale living shoreline project in Pensacola. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

In 2011, a group of neighboring property owners along the bayou decided to take action. After considering many repair options, the neighbors decided to pursue a living shoreline based on aesthetics, long-term viability, installation cost, maintenance cost, storm damage mitigation and feasibility of installation. By 2017, the living shoreline was constructed.  Oyster shell piles were placed to slow down wave energy as it approached the transition zone from the long fetch across the bayou, while uplands damage was repaired and native marsh grasses and uplands plants were restored to slow down freshwater as it flowed towards the bayou.  Sand is now accruing as opposed to eroding along the shoreline.  Wading shorebirds are now a constant companion and live oysters are appearing along the entire 1,200-foot length.  Additionally the living shoreline solution provided access to resources, volunteer help, and property owner sweat equity opportunities that otherwise would have been unavailable.  An attribute that has surprisingly appeared – waterfront property owners are now able to keep their nicely manicured lawns down to within 30 feet of the water’s edge.  At that point, the landscape immediately switches back to native marsh plants, which creates a quite robust and attractive intersection. (Text and information courtesy Charles Lurton).

 

Successes like these all over the state have led the Florida Master Naturalist Program to offer a new special topics course on “Coastal Shoreline Restoration” which provides training in the restoration of living shorelines, oyster reefs, mangroves, and salt marsh, with focus on ecology, benefits, methods, and monitoring techniques.  Keep an eye out for this course being offered near you. If you are curious about living shorelines and want to know more, reach out to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Ecosystem Restoration section for help and read through this  online document.

 

 

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Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/coastal-erosion-a-problem-with-new-solutions/

Bay scallops: a boom and bust lifestyle

Bay scallops: a boom and bust lifestyle

Many species of animals go through dramatic swings in population numbers over time. For some, these fluctuations are related to the dynamics of a natural symbiotic connection such as a predator-prey relationship.  A classic example of this is the famous snowshoe hare/lynx model taught to all wildlife ecology students. The lynx numbers follow the hare numbers with a lag in the population upswings and downswings. For other species, it may simply be related to changing environmental conditions that they either do not tolerate well or that they thrive in. This is primarily the case with our panhandle bay scallop populations from year to year. During the time I’ve lived in North Florida I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum during local scallop seasons. Some years, you can limit-out as fast as you can pluck them from the sea grass bed. Other times, the old adage of “finding a needle in a haystack” comes to mind. Over the past few years we have experienced some of these dramatic swings for various reasons.

Bay Scallop Argopecten iradians

Bay scallops are mostly an annual species, with spawning taking place as water temperatures drop quickly during fall cold fronts. Harvest numbers the following summer are a result of larvae that matured in a single season. Occasionally, you will find an old “mossy-back” that is significantly larger and likely a holdover from the previous season. During spawning, a single scallop can release millions of eggs but very few survive to adulthood and throughout their brief lifespan they are susceptible to many mortality factors.
Predation by crabs, sea stars and several species of marine snails takes a toll but is generally not the driving force in significant declines.

 

One factor that does have population-level impacts is the amount of rainfall locally. Too much freshwater will create physiological stress and kill scallops over large areas. They can also be hammered by extreme heat or cold events due to their nature of inhabiting relatively shallow coastal waters. Other population pressures may not be so obvious because they sneak up on scallops gradually rather than happening all of a sudden. Factors such as propeller scarring in seagrass beds and siltation from terrestrial runoff or human activities, can have a cumulative effect that gradually degrades the seagrass habitat where scallops live. Another factor that can cause near-extinction of local populations is the occurrence of harmful algal blooms such as red tide. The toxins produced by these marine dinoflagellates will kill fish, marine mammals and shellfish alike. This is what happened to the scallops in St. Joseph Bay during the fall of 2015 when a red tide bloom killed most of the spawning population.
A more recent event in St. Joseph Bay, that put a damper on the 2017 season, was a bloom of a different marine dinoflagellate species known as Pseudo-nitzschia. This organism can produce a toxin known as domoic acid which can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans. Thankfully, it is not expected to harm the shellfish themselves and next season may be a real bumper year. That is, if everything else that can go wrong for a scallop decides to give them a bit of a break. When environmental conditions are good, it is astounding what Mother Nature will provide. Put on your snorkel gear and check it out!  For information on seasons and more detailed biology visit the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s webpage here.  For some tasty recipes check out the Fresh From Florida page here.

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Author: Erik Lovestrand – elovestrand@ufl.edu

Erik Lovestrand

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/bay-scallops-a-boom-and-bust-lifestyle/

So What’s Good with Local Seafood?

So What’s Good with Local Seafood?

Shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo: NOAA

Actually, if you like seafood – it’s all good! However, not everyone does and sometimes when this question is asked they are interested in not how it taste but where the seafood came from.

 

In recent years, there has been a move across the country to learn more about where their food comes from. Whether that is because they are concerned what the livestock and chickens have been fed, their living conditions, or whether they came outside the United States – more people are asking and it is affecting how they purchase their food.  Is it the same for seafood?

 

In some cases, yes. Several years ago, I ran the marine science program at Washington High School.  We were discussing whether, with a growing human population, the ocean could sustain the demand for seafood.  Would we need to focus our production on aquaculture?  We decided to survey locals to see whether (a) they liked seafood, and (b) if so, would it matter whether the product came from the ocean or a farm.  Over a 10-year period, we found that (a) the percentage of locals who did not like seafood increased. (b) Those who did like seafood did not have strong feelings whether it was from a farm or from the sea.   Curious as to why those who did not like seafood felt that way, we followed up with those questions and found it was not as much a concern with seafood safety in that they just did not like the taste of it.  Of course, this was a high school science project and not a formal science investigation, but they did a good job with it and the results were interesting.

 

That was almost 20 years ago, do people feel the same?  According to Dr. George Baker (Florida Sea Grant), yes… things are about the same.  If they can get access to wild harvested seafood at a good price, they will buy.  If it is not available, or to expensive, they will, purchase farm raised. Moreover, more people do not like seafood.

 

What about the local issue? In California, there is a program that allows you to find out which boat captain caught your fish.  In Florida, there are studies going on to determine what type of filet you are actually buying.  As with produce and livestock, people seem to be interested in where their seafood comes from – and for many, if effects where and how they buy seafood.

Commercial seafood in Pensacola has a long history.
Photo: Rick O’Connor

 

So what is local?

 

Well, we call any seafood product harvested or cultured within 250 miles local. For Pensacola, that would include Alabama, Mississippi, and eastern Louisiana.  We know that between 80-90% of the seafood you currently purchase is imported from both commercial fishing and aquaculture overseas.  That said, local seafood is still here and available.

 

The commercial fishing in Pensacola goes WAY back. It was one of the first industries to get off the ground shortly after Florida became a U.S. territory.  According to Dr. Jack E. Davis, in his book The Gulf; The Making of an American Sea, Cuban fishermen harvested seafood from the Gulf coast of peninsula Florida prior to our becoming a territory.  Shortly after becoming a U.S. territory, New England fishermen came to harvest the Gulf, including one by the name of Leonard Destin.  Soon a fishing industry was operating in Pensacola.  They sold a variety of species but in 1840 they found red snapper – and the boom was on.  Shrimp followed but water quality, habitat loss, and overharvesting have plagued the industry over the years.  Fishermen did well for a time, then the landings decreased, the fishermen believed the fish had moved, and so the fleet would move.  This continued until they have literally moved all over the Gulf of Mexico seeking fish.  At this point quotas had to be initiated and regulation has been the norm ever since.  Add to this an increase interest in recreational fishing, increasing the number of fishermen, and increased regulation with this sector.  Today we can include the introduction of invasive species as another stressor.

 

All that said, local seafood is still available. Some species have become quite pricey, but they are still available.  The Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation created a Gulf Coast Seafood Species Chart.  This chart indicates when selected species are in peak season for commercial harvest.  This chart suggests they are in season year round but there are peak months.  It varies from one state to another, but the list below includes Florida and Alabama.

 

Species Months in Peak Season Comments
Blue crab No peak season
Blue crab

Soft shell

Mar – Jun
Black drum No peak season
Red drum No peak season Subject to quotas and closures
Clams All year – FL only Clams are now cultured in FL and are available year round
Crawfish Apr – Jun – LA only LA only, but close to us
Flounder Jul – Aug; Oct-Nov Subject to quotas and closures
Grouper No peak season Subject to quotas and closures
King mackerel Jan – Feb; Jul-Sep; Dec Subject to quotas and closures
Mahi-Mahi May – Jun
Mullet Jan; Sep – Dec
Oysters Jan – Apr; Sep – Dec
Pompano Jan – Apr;
Sheepshead No peak season
Brown shrimp May – Sep
Pink shrimp Jan – Jul
Rock shrimp Jun – Sep
White shrimp May – Nov
Snapper Peak season year round Subject to quotas and closures
Yellowtail snapper Mar – Jun
Spanish mackerel Jan – May; Aug – Sep; Dec Subject to quotas and closures
Spiny lobster Aug – Sep; Oct – Nov
Spotted seatrout No peak season Subject to quotas and closures
Stone crab Oct – Dec
Swordfish Sep – Nov
Yellowfin tuna Jun – Oct

 

The health benefits from consuming seafood are understood. We certainly think it should be part of your of weekly dinner menu.  There are concerns for safety in some seafood products, as in mercury and king mackerel, and we will address that in another article – but the lack of consuming seafood can create health issues as well.  We hope you enjoy local Gulf seafood.

Commercial crab boats docked on Escambia Bay.
Photo: Rick O’Connor

 

References

 

Baker, G. 2017. personal communication.

 

Davis, J.E. 2017. The Gulf; Making of an American Sea.  Liveright Publishing. New York NY. Pp. 530.

 

Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation. 2013. Gulf Coast Seafood. www.eatgulfseafood.com

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/19/so-whats-good-with-local-seafood/

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