Category Archives: Nature

FWC biologists would like your help in their scallop restoration efforts.

From the MyFWC:

Bay scallops (Argopecten irradians) may have a short life, typically only living for about a year, but they play a big role in the economies of many coastal, Floridian towns, like Steinhatchee and Port St. Joe. In 2016, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (MyFWC) biologists began a 10-year project to restore bay scallops in Florida’s Panhandle. The initial effort for this restoration project is focused in St. Joseph and St. Andrew Bays. If you are a member of the community surrounding St. Joseph or St. Andrew Bay, you can help by volunteering to become a ‘scallop-sitter’ and maintain your own cage with scallops in your bay!

Project Goal: To increase depleted scallop populations in some bays and reintroduce scallops in other suitable areas from which scallops have disappeared.

How we restore scallops

  • FWC biologists place wild and hatchery-raised scallops in cages in the bay.
  • Cages protect scallops from predation.
  • Cages likely increase the number of offspring produced, increasing the population size over time.
FWC biologists currently have more than 50 predator exclusion cages in St. Joseph Bay

Project Details:

  • Volunteers will maintain scallops in cages from April 2018 – Jan 2019.
  • Cages will be placed either on your own private dock or in the bay using a boat or kayak.
  • FWC will provide cages, scallops, and training during our workshop in April 2018.
  • Together, we will help restore scallops in these bays.

What does it take to be a volunteer?

1) Live near St. Andrew or St. Joseph Bay from April 2018 – January 2019.

2) Access to the Bay: either a private dock, boat or kayak.

3) Willing and able to clean scallop shells once a month.

4) Attend or view via webinar FWC’s Scallop Restoration Workshop in April 2018.

If you are interested in becoming a scallop sitter in Gulf or Bay county please email us.

Reduce Human-Bear Conflicts: Bear Wise Funding For Gulf County

Gulf County, in cooperation with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (MyFWC) and Waste Pro, has developed a plan to install bear resistant clips to existing trash receptacles, in order to reduce human-bear conflicts. The following information is available on this pilot program:

Gulf County will purchase a kit (set of 2 metal gate hasps and installation hardware) to be installed on either side of a regular 96-gallon tote, which will be attached to both the lid and the can. Residents can obtain the kits as follows:

1. Residents can pick them up at Gulf County EDC/Grants at 1000 Cecil G Costin Sr Blvd, Port St. Joe, Monday-Thursday from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., E.T.

2. Each resident will be required to fill out a form stating their name, address and the number of kits received, along with their signature verifying their correct information and receipt of the product. (Application)

3. Applications must be returned to Gulf County BOCC, Administration, Attention: Lianna Sagins, 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr., Blvd., Room 312, Port St. Joe, FL 32456. (850) 229-6144, Monday-Thursday, 7:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., E.T.

4. Residents are responsible for installing the equipment on the cans. The procedure on trash day will be that the resident will unlock the can(s) on the morning of trash pick-up. This program will only work if everyone works together in order to create a smooth transition.

The Monarch Butterfly And Its Migration Over Cape San Blas, FL

During the Fall on Cape San Blas, FL, all of a sudden, a rolling wave of stunning orange begins to cover the lush green woods all around covering various flowers, trees and other plants. Monarch butterflies are making their migration straight over Cape San Blas. It is a beautiful sight to see. Yet, just how far do these butterflies fly from and where are they going?

Scores of monarch butterflies migrate from Canada to a certain forest in Mexico—that is a distance of some 1,800 miles! How can they possibly know how to travel such a distance to a particular forest without getting off course over the many days it takes to arrive at their destination? By using the sun.

Though their brains are the size of a ballpoint pen, they have been designed with the capabilities to compensate for the sun’s movement by using a circadian clock. This is a biological function based on a 24-hour day that makes corrections for the sun’s movement.

Their Usefulness
Each year, the millions of monarch butterflies pollinate millions of plants—assisting in the reproduction of an enormous amount of plants.

The Reign of the King of Butterflies May Soon Come to an End

According to researchers, the particular monarch butterfly that takes the incredible migration across North America is undergoing a sharp population decline. What are some of the causes for this sad situation?

Milkweed, Avocados and More
Once the butterflies arrive to their destination in Mexico, they must lay their eggs on a specific plant called milkweed. When the monarch larvae hatch, they feed on milkweed leaves.

However, milkweed plants in the Mexican states of Michoacan and Mexico, where the butterflies finish their migration, are disappearing. The herbicides used on corn and soybean fields are killing the milkweed plants.

Another threat are avocados. Yep, avocados. The livelihood of many people is dependent on avocado plantations. Because avocados are a high demand product, some forests are being replaced by avocado plantations. Which, in certain areas of Mexico, is negatively affecting the monarch because a forest they once descended upon is now gone.

Other factors such as disease, parasites and certain weather conditions that have affected North America in recent years are also hurting the king of butterflies.

What Is Being Done?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been asked to place this particular type of monarch on the Endangered Species Act. Others are creating butterfly habitats by planting milkweed.

So, don’t be fooled by its soft, lightweight body—for the monarch butterfly is remarkably resilient and instinctively wise. Let’s hope we do not loss this treasure for good one day.