Volunteers are needed to join Pinellas County Environmental Management and Keep Pinellas Beautiful in a cleanup event at Cross Bayou Canal and Joe’s Creek on Saturday, April 15, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Part of the Great American Cleanup campaign, the event service involves the removal of trash and debris in and along Cross Bayou Canal and Joe’s Creek. Volunteers wanting to help on the water can bring their own watercraft or borrow a canoe for as long as supplies last. Volunteers may also choose to sign up for the Island Shuttle. Two jon boats will be used to bring volunteers to the various mangrove islands. Life jackets are required and will be provided to those borrowing a canoe. Volunteers must be 18 or over and paddleboards are not permitted.
Check-in begins at 8 a.m. at the Pinellas County property at the intersection of 70th Avenue North and 78th Street North near the Wagon Wheel Flea Market on Park Boulevard. The first 25 volunteers to sign in on the morning of the event will receive a reusable filtration water bottle from our sponsor, Epic Water Filters. Trash collection takes place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Lunch and a free raffle drawing will follow.
Volunteers should wear comfortable clothing, closed-toe shoes, a hat and sunscreen, and bring a chair or towel to sit on. Trash grabbers, bags, gloves and drinking water will be provided. A water truck will also be available for volunteers to clean their watercraft after the cleanup. Registration by Friday, April 14, is required. Call Eric Vittoria at (727) 464-8756 or register online at https://CrossBayouJoesCreekCleanupGAC2023.eventbrite.com
Sponsorships are also available for local businesses. Sponsors with exhibition spaces are allowed to set up their space starting at 7:30 a.m. Donated items are also appreciated. All donated items should be received no later than Thursday, April 13. For more information or to schedule a business as a sponsor, contact Eric Vittoria at (727) 464-8756 or evittor
Reef installation to fight algae and red tide
On Wednesday afternoon, a new tool was put in the Gulf of Mexico to monitor the water and support Red Tide research, human health, and the ecosystem.
Ten miles offshore and 30 feet underwater, giant cement blocks will help scientists better understand what’s happening in the water.
“So the importance of Kimberley’s reef is it’s an underwater platform. It’s in a fixed location. We can put instrumentation out there. We can study animals. We can study algae and plant life all at the same spot. And we can study it over time,” professor in The Water School at FGCU, Mike Parsons, said.
Eighteen culverts weighing more than 19,000 pounds each provide fascinating research opportunities and habitats for marine life.
“And the fish are gonna be like, hey, look, here’s a new home. This is the new IT neighborhood,” Parsons said.
And the team can better understand how those fish, crabs, and other creatures respond to change.
“We can monitor for red tide and the impacts of red tide,” Parsons said. “How do fish populations react to red tie? Do they move away? Do they, unfortunately, die? When do they come back?”
And those are big questions while Southwest Florida deals with a Red Tide outbreak and dead fish scattered in the waters off Bonita Beach. Sensors and instruments on the buoys monitor oceanographic conditions on the Gulf and reef.
Florida’s love-hate relationship with phosphorus
The state has mined and abused the Devil’s Element for decades, and now it is increasingly fouling precious coastal waters
In the summer of 2018, in Stuart, a small beach community on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, some hundred panicked homeowners showed up at City Hall in the middle of the business day to demand something be done about the green goo plaguing their coastal waters. It was a sweltering July day, the kind towns like Stuart are built for, but signs on the boardwalk outside City Hall warned visitors:
As people at the meeting introduced themselves and stated their affiliations, it became clear this was not a typical gathering of environmentalists. They weren’t strategizing about how to protect some beleaguered species and the far?away lands or waters upon which it depends. These people, who represented businesses as well as homeowners’ associations and fishing and yachting clubs, spoke as though they were the threatened species.
“I need help,” said Will Embrey, a scraggly commercial fisherman whose business had collapsed right along with the region’s schools of mackerel not long after the green slime arrived. “There are a lot of people like me that need help.” The 45-?year-?old was suffering chronic stomach pain that was initially diagnosed as diverticulitis, and then ulcerative colitis, and then Crohn’s disease. Eventually doctors had given up trying to figure out what made Embrey so sick.
Embrey didn’t need to spend tens of thousands more dollars on more specialists, CT scans and lab tests to figure out the source of his illness. He knew it was the poisoned water, and he wasn’t alone.
Florida impacts kick federal beach renourishment policy back to panel
'A beach that’s covered by homes and hotels, and retreat is simply not possible.'
A document setting out federal fishery managers’ opposition to beach renourishment and, should it occur, best management practices is headed back to an advisory panel after concerns about how it would affect Florida.
The policy document begins, “In general, frequent and widespread beach renourishment projects (dredge-and-fill) occurring in the United States southeast together may cause measurable impacts to (essential fish habitat) under the jurisdiction of the (South Atlantic Fishery Management Council).
“Coastal communities are strongly encouraged to evaluate the full range of alternatives, including retreat, to these types of projects when addressing erosion and sea level rise.”
The Council governs federal saltwater fisheries from the North Carolina Outer Banks to the Florida Keys. Members of the SAFMC Habitat Protection and Ecosystem-Based Management Advisory Panel (AP) worked on the document last year. They will get another shot at it after the decisions this week.
The latest language notably differs from the stronger words in a previous draft.
Was Florida red tide made worse by Hurricane Ian? Here’s what we know
Red tide researchers agree: The toxic algae would still be flaring up — with or without the powerful Category 4 storm.
Hurricane Ian slammed the state less than three weeks before red tide appeared, leading many to link the storm with the toxic algae’s return. But what role, if any, did Ian play in the arrival of this latest red tide? We asked experts at three Florida universities, plus two leading state and federal scientists, and their answers boiled down to these main points:
Red tide would still be flaring up, with or without the hurricane; it’s still possible the storm brought red tide closer to shore; the present red tide today is likely no longer feeding on pollution dumped by Ian months ago, and Ian proved scientists still have much to learn about the relationship between storms and toxic algal blooms.
Red tide is getting worse along the Gulf beaches
Southerly winds are pushing the red tide blooms northward into Pinellas County.
State environmental officials on Wednesday said high levels of red tide were reported off the coast of Sarasota County and in Roberts Bay, near Venice. And medium levels continue to affect Pinellas beaches from Redington Beach to Fort DeSoto.
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science issued an advisory this week, cautioning that beachgoers may experience respiratory irritation while visiting beaches in Sarasota, Manatee and Pinellas counties.
Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received from all three counties.
Southerly winds are being blamed for pushing the toxin north from Charlotte and Lee counties, where red tide first emerged in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
It has pushed it as far north as the Panhandle. Red tide was observed at background concentrations in one sample collected from Okaloosa County.
Forecasts by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides for Pinellas County south predict northern movement of surface waters and northwestern/western movement of subsurface waters in most areas over the next 3½ days.
Researchers looking into toxins that Blue-Green Algae release into the air
LEE COUNTY – In a fourth-floor Marine and Environmental Sciences lab at Florida Gulf Coast University, algae are the star of the show.
"We get sent samples from across the U.S.," said FGCU Water School student Trinity Allan.
More specifically, researchers like Trinity Allan are looking into Blue-Green algae to learn more about the toxins they produce and how much of it we breathe in during a bloom.
As of now, detailed guidelines for exposure to these toxins only really exist for drinking water or recreation—it’s a vast difference from the amount of guidance we see when compared to red tide.
"We have a good base data [set] about red tide, but we don't have that for the blue-green algae and so we're trying to provide that baseline data so we know where to jump off from," said Allan.
Collecting that "baseline data" is such a passion project for Allan that she has dedicated her Master's thesis to the topic.