North Report—February

by Savanna on 2013/02/15

in North, Regional Reports

FMSEA North has had an exciting year.

Collection Workshop:

The Crystal River Marine Science Station began the school year by hosting a Collection Workshop on September 22.  Twenty participants enjoyed a continental breakfast followed by the workshop.  The workshop was followed by a boat trip to shallow water seagrass beds where participants were able to practice their skills using various types of collection equipment.  This activity was followed by snorkeling on a limestone rock reef.  The weather was perfect and a great time was had by all of the participants.

Politics:

During the month of October and into early November, the Academy of Environmental Science hosted all of the candidates for local offices at the Marine Science Station.  During their visit, each candidate talked to the students about their positions on local and state issues.  A question and answer session followed where students asked the candidate specific questions.  The Academy students naturally focused on local and state environmental issues and asked the candidates very pointed questions.  It was very entertaining and enlightening to see the candidates respond to these very educated and well informed students.

MSS Open House and Aquarium Rededication:

On November 17, the Marine Science Station held an open house and rededication ceremony for the Barry L. Cannon Memorial Aquarium.  Born in Red Level, Berry L. Cannon was a SEA-LAB aquanaut and electrical engineer in the U.S. Navy Civil Corps. Cannon lost his life while making a 600 foot dive during special operations off the California coast on February 17, 1969, and was officially recognized as a hero by the Florida Senate on April 17, 1969. The Aquarium building was originally dedicated in Cannon’s honor in 1970 and used by Marine Science Station students and teachers as a  marine museum.  The event was very well attended with approximately 25 student volunteers under the supervision of 10 county teacher volunteers escorting over 500 guests, school leaders and local dignitaries on guided tours of the MSS facilities throughout the day.  Guests for the rededication ceremony included several members of Mr. Cannon’s family, the Citrus County Schools Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents, School Board members, Crystal River Mayor and state and local political representatives. The students were able to develop their communication skills while increasing public awareness of the MSS.

One Rake at a Time:

Not all learning comes from a book.  On November 15 & 16, students from the Academy of Environmental Science joined volunteers from the King’s Bay Rotary Club to manually remove Lyngbya from the swimming area of Hunters Spring Park in Crystal River.  The Rotary Service Project, called “One Rake at a Time” was started by president elect Art Jones in September 2011.  Its mission is to remove Lyngbya from King’s Bay and Crystal River allowing native aquatic vegetation to return, increasing water clarity and quality.

Student with Collected Lyngbya   Students clean lyngbya from Kings Bay

The students, from Nancy Pruitt’s Biology class, met Captains Hugh Adkins and Earnie Olsen at the Marine Science Station for the chilly boat ride to Hunter’s Spring Park.  On their arrival, students in wetsuits were given rakes and plastic bins before hitting the water to rake up and manually remove the noxious weed.  Students were given no specific job duties but had soon analyzed the situation and divided the jobs to work as a cohesive team to accomplish their goal of completely filling a huge dump trailer.  “It’s truly amazing to watch the students problem solve and divide themselves into specific job responsibilities to get the job done,” commented Adkins.  Olsen agreed stating that this was “service learning at its best.”  During the two mornings, the students were able to remove more than 10 tons of lyngbya from the bay.

Students filling trailer with collected Lyngbya

Lyngbya is a filamentous algae that has taken over much of the King’s Bay area.  It is slimy to the touch and can rise as much as 10-14 feet from the floor of the bay, wrapping around boat propellers and causing swimmers itch (seaweed dermatitis) on people with sensitive skin.  Lyngbya is helping cause the destruction of the aquatic ecosystem in King’s Bay and Crystal River.   Lyngbya must be physically removed from the water.  No chemical or algaecide is able to penetrate its dense mats and kill it off.  Old dead Lyngbya must also be removed and not be allowed to stay in the water as it suffocates everything that it covers, robs the water of dissolved oxygen and crowds out beneficial aquatic plants.  In some areas of King’s Bay there are layers upon layers of Lyngbya covering the floor of the bay and holding silt and pollutants from years and years of buildup.  It is not edible and Manatees can be harmed if they get so starved they try to eat Lyngbya.

Manatee Capture:

In December and February students with a focus on Veterinary Medicine from The Academy of Health Careers at Crystal River High School, under the supervision of Hugh Adkins (MSS), were invited to join United States Geological Survey Sirenia Project supervisor and biologist Bob Bonde in their Manatee Capture and Health Assessment events.

Health Academy Students at Manatee Capture  Capture Boat

Working with the Geological Survey, along with representatives from the United States Wildlife Service, the Florida Wildlife Commission and veterinarians and marine mammal health experts from around the world, the students were able to participate in the captures, then observe the health professionals as they collected data on each manatee.

Manatees are captured by an experienced capture team using nets, then loaded onto specially designed well boats for transport to a second beach area for the health assessment, including a complete medical examination by experienced marine biologists and veterinarians.

Capturing Manatee Capturing Manatee

The beaches are exposed only at low tide, creating a short window of time for the health assessments.

Health assessments are valuable tools for determining the health of the herd as well as identifying emerging threats to the ocean environment and human health.

Manatee Health Assessments

The next Assessment is scheduled for March and it will be the last event for this season.

For more information visit:  http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/pdf/crystal_river_handout.pdf.

Mark Your Calendars for the FMSEA Annual Conference in May!

It is going to be a great Conference. See the information from Laura below for details.  Hope to see you all there!

Registration for the May 2-5, 2013 conference (#fmsea13) of the Florida Marine Science Educators Association is now open! Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Smithsonian Marine Station are excited to welcome FMSEA to Fort Pierce and share the wealth of marine science resources on Florida’s Treasure Coast!

This year’s conference theme – Changing Environments: Old Florida, New Science – will underscore new technologies and novel approaches to adapting to our ever-changing natural, academic and economic environments. Highlights of the conference include:

Thursday evening Science Cafe, sponsored by COSEE Florida

Friday Field Experiences and workshops

Friday evening social and keynote at the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit

A full day of keynotes and concurrent sessions on Saturday at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Exhibit Hall

A full day “Research Track” with local marine and estuarine scientists

Evening social, silent auction and banquet

Saturday evening keynote by Dr. Edie Widder, CEO and co-founder of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, and star of the Discovery Channel’s Monster Squid: The Giant is Real

Registration is open NOW! Visit fmsea.org/2013 to register today! Early bird registration until April 1 is only $145 and can be paid with credit card, check or purchase order. Lodging for the conference has been secured at the Sandhurst Hotel, located directly on the Fort Pierce Inlet. The FMSEA Conference Rate is $65/night and reservations are being accepted today.

The Call for Proposals and Exhibitor Registration are also available at the registration site.

Stay tuned for more details at fmsea.org/2013, or follow us at fmsea.org/facebook and fmsea.org/twitter.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Fort Pierce!

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