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Entries in Mote Marine Laboratory (6)

Tuesday
Oct032017

Challenge Takes Bite Out Of Lionfish Threat To Fisheries

Recreational participants removed 8,901 lionfish, and  commercials took 15,800 pounds (about 17,420 lionfish) in the 2017 Lionfish Challenge, sponsored by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). That's 26,321 exotic predators eliminated.

Ken Ayers Jr. of Panama City took home the recreational Lionfish King award with a total of 1,250 lionfish harvested. Joshua Livingston of Destin became Florida’s first Commercial Champion for his efforts in removing 4,560 pounds of lionfish (poundage equates to about 5,027 fish). On top of other prizes earned throughout the Challenge, the two winners were presented with a custom-made Fish Bone Design trophy and a “No Shoes Reefs” Engel 85 cooler.

A total of 120 recreational and commercial harvesters participated in the statewide lionfish removal incentive program, which ran from Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day May 20 (first Saturday after Mother’s Day annually) through Sept. 4.

FWC's partners in this effort included  34 dive shops that served as checkpoints for recreational submissions, as well as Engel Coolers, ZombieStickz Lionfish Eliminator and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

"While this year’s Lionfish Challenge may be over, there are still plenty of other great programs that encourage lionfish removal," FWC said.

Check out the new  Reef Rangers website, which launched in early September. Participants who adopt a reef soon will receive a Reef Rangers Lionfish Control Team T-shirt and tank sticker.

Learn more about lionfish  at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.

Monday
Sep012014

Nursery-Raised Coral Spawning to Build Reef Habitat in Keys

Staghorn coral photo from Southeast Fisheries Science Center

In August, researchers at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) observed transplanted nursery-raised staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) spawning for the first time at Tropical Rocks, about 4 miles offshore of Marathon.

These corals were supplied by the Coral Restoration Foundation and Mote Marine Lab nurseries and outplanted by FWC. The project was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act via The Nature Conservancy.

The FWC and the Conservancy are reseeding coral reefs in efforts to aid recovery of wild staghorn populations, which contributes significantly to reef growth, island formation, and coastal protection, while providing essential habitat for a number of important reef fish.

“This is the first time that we have seen staghorn coral spawning at the reef tract that included corals grown as part of our nursery program,” said Caitlin Lustic, coral recovery coordinator for the Conservancy in Florida.

“This spawning event shows that outplanted corals have the ability to reproduce just like a natural colony and furthers our goal of creating breeding colonies of coral that can repopulate reefs on their own.”

The FWC, in collaboration with the Conservancy and other American Recovery and Reinvestment Act partners, began construction on the Middle Keys coral nursery in late 2009 but suffered setbacks due to a coldwater kill and, later, a warm-water bleaching event. The goal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project was to expand the current nurseries, develop new nurseries and outplant high numbers of nursery-grown corals throughout the Florida reef tract and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“With this project, we developed excellent working relationships with the Conservancy and the rest of our partners,” said Kerry Maxwell, coral researcher with the FWC.

“Together we boosted threatened staghorn populations and realized the ultimate goal of the project: spawning. Even though the project backed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is complete, I anticipate we will all continue to collaborate toward the common goal of coral reef restoration.”

To learn more about corals go here.

To learn more about Conservancy efforts to protect Florida’s coast, including coral reef habitat, go here.

Saturday
Oct202012

Outdoor Recreation Is Powerful Force That Continues to Grow

Catching bait at sunrise before fishing during Saltwater Media Summit sponsored by TRCP. (See previous post.)

Fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation are big business, worth $646 billion annually in direct sales and employing 6.1 million people. And when that money spent directly ripples through the economy, it creates $1.6 trillion in impact and contributes to 12 million jobs.

Additionally, preserving access for angling, hunting, hiking, boating, camping and other outdoor pastimes sustains this vital force that enriches our quality of life, as well as our economy.

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) delivered this important message during the recent Saltwater Media Summit, sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

More revelations from the event at Mote Marine Laboratory:

Despite hard times economically in recent years, outdoor recreation has continued to grow in popularity. More than 140 million Americans participate.

Forty-six million Americans ages 6 and older fish an average of 18 times or more per year, with angling often serving as the gateway activity to enjoyment of other forms of outdoor recreation.

Seven of 10 of the most popular outdoor activities for first-timers are water-based, with standup paddling first and fishing second.

Nearly 35 million people visit national wildlife refuges annually, while more than 725 million visits to state parks provide a collective $20 billion economic benefit to communities near those parks.

And this message from the OIA:

“Supporting the outdoor recreation economy are our nation’s public recreation lands and waters. Not only is access to quality places to play outside critical to our businesses, it is fundamental to recruiting employers and at the heart of healthy and productive communities. Open spaces and recreation areas are magnets that draw after-work activity and tourists alike.

“Most importantly, the outdoor recreation economy can continue to be a growing generator of jobs and an economic powerhouse if we manage and invest in America’s parks, waters, and trails as a national outdoor recreation system designed to reap economic dividends for America. The continued growth and success of this great American industry hinges on outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone.”

Tuesday
Dec272011

Mote Marine Lab Helps Sea Turtle Return Home

Courtesy of Mote Marine Laboratory, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nicknamed “Johnny Vasco da Gama” finally is heading home again.

The species typically prefers warm waters and is most common in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast, occasionally as far north as New Jersey.

But Johnny journeyed east in 2008 and was found stranded in the Netherlands. Following rehabilitation in Portugal, he was brought to Florida to complete his recovery.

The turtle also was fitted with a satellite tracking system by the Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.

Read the full story here.

By the way, Vasco da Gama was a 15th century Portuguese explorer credited with discovering a trade route to India, via the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. Scientists aren’t sure where his turtle namesake was heading when it crossed thousands of miles of ocean.  

Sunday
Oct232011

Why We Fish: To Party with Penguins

Photo copyright Robert Montgomery

Back in the 1990s, I went to South Africa and other countries on the southern half of Africa.  Primarily I went to see and photograph the wildlife, although I also made time for fishing.

Fishing led me into photography and photography led me to Africa, where I met the African penguin, also known as the black-footed penguin or, my favorite name, the jackass penguin. The latter is based on its donkey-like bray.

I met my favorite penguin again while I was in Sarasota, Fla., for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership saltwater media summit.  Mote Marine Laboratory was a co-sponsor, and the good folks there took us behind the scenes to see the stars of a new exhibit, Penguin Island.

One of the penguins meandered about us, reminding me of a curious little child. Then a staffer pulled out a bottle of bubbles. You can see the results in my photo above. The penguin was fascinated by them.

Someone said that maybe penguins are drawn to bubbles because they remind them of bubbly sea foam. Maybe that’s the case.

Jackass penguin in South Africa. Photo copyright Robert Montgomery

But what this tells me is that learning to relate to other species is a riddle wrapped inside an enigma, and we have just begun. I’m not saying that one day we will have meaningful conversations with penguins, pollock, and porcupines.

I am saying that life is magical and, sometimes, we are treated to a glimpse of it.