SCCF interns Jeff Book, Rachel Fisher, and Emily Hardin present an overview of SCCF's 2017 Sea Turtle Tagging Program. They provide information about the project and tagging procedures and include results from the 2017 season, including statistics of turtles encountered and interesting individuals. They also detail our participation in a collaborative project between the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and SCCF using satellite telemetry to track 5 green sea turtles who nested on Sanibel and 2 from Keewaydin.
All research conducted under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission permits 047 and 116.
Although drift macroalgae are a normal component of healthy estuarine ecosystems, overabundance, or “blooms”, of these drift species can lead to harmful consequences like oxygen depletion and seagrass die-off. Large accumulations of algae cause further nuisance by washing up and decomposing on beaches where they produce foul odors and unsightly piles. As drift macroalgae blooms in Sanibel waters continue to increase in frequency, extent, and biomass, there is a clear need to further understand the patterns of this phenomenon and the reasons for its occurrence.
The Caloosahatchee estuary historically supported large beds of Vallisneria americana (tape grass), a freshwater macrophyte with a low tolerance for salt.
Successful restoration of subaquatic vegetation beds in the Caloosahatchee estuary will help improve water quality in the estuary, reduce erosion and provide habitat for fish species, making these projects important for the health of the estuary.
Macroalgae stranding events are becoming more common. During the past decade, the number of macroalgal beach stranding events has increased, with the number of stranding events following freshwater discharges increasing since 2009. This project was developed to look at the distribution and abundance or macro algae around Sanibel and to study the affect nutrients have on its growth.
This project is in collaboration with visiting researcher Ray Grizzle (Research Professor of Zoology, University of New Hampshire) and examines spatial chlorophyll variation surrounding an intertidal eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reef in Tarpon Bay. An individual adult oyster can filter over 1 L/hr and it has been shown that oyster reefs can cause significant decreases in chlorophyll a when comparing upstream to downstream measurements (Grizzle et al. 2008) This work seeks to sheds light on the true spatial extent of oyster reef filtration and potential effects on adjacent habitats such as seagrass beds.
South Florida is home to over a thousand exotic plant and animal species, most released outside their native range by humans within the past century. Already, the Lab has found two invasive fish species that are cause for concern. Mark_marykate_seineThe Mayan cichlid (Cichlasoma urophthalmus) is native to Central America and has been repeatedly released by aquarium owners throughout Florida. This species has been found in the Everglades, freshwater habitats throughout South Florida, and in Charlotte Harbor. The Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus) is native to inland waters in Africa and was introduced in Florida back in the 1960’s for aquaculture and as a biological control for aquatic weeds. Since then, it has spread throughout freshwater habitats in south Florida and has been found in estuarine and brackish waters in the Caloosahatchee and Matlacha Pass.