Posted on January 31, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Higher summer spikes could mean more destructive storm surges
Researchers have documented changes in the annual cycle of sea level changes along the Florida Gulf Coast. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Annual sea level fluctuations have been intensifying along parts of the Gulf Coast, raising concerns about more hurricane flooding and impacts to delicate coastal ecosystems in the region.
There have always been seasonal fluctuations in sea level, which rise in summer and fall in winter. But a new study shows that, from the Florida Keys to southern Alabama, those cycles have amplified in the past 20 years.
The additional summer sea level rise during the past two decades means storm surges can rise higher than previously thought, according to Thomas Wahl, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Siegen in Germany who is working at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg and lead author of the study. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: climate, Florida, global warming impacts, Gulf Coast, sea level | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
State’s wildlife is squeezed from all sides
Oceanic birds and birds that rely on coastal habitat face challenges related to climate change, according to the 2011 State of the Birds report. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The rapid growth of Florida’s population, combined with laissez-faire development policies and the lack of strong environmental regulations is putting the state’s natural resources at risk, conservation advocates said in a year-end press release.
The warning came as the U.S. Census Bureau released figures showing that Florida will soon overtake New York as the third-most populous state in the country, and as Florida’s wildlife continues to struggle in the face habitat loss, urban sprawl, water withdrawals and other effects of rapid human population growth in recent decades.
“As Florida’s human population growth breaks new records, incredible species like panthers and manatees are dying at record rates,” said Stephanie Feldstein, the Center for Biological Diversity’s population and sustainability director. “Florida is a beautiful, biodiversity-rich state, but it has a long history of replacing that beauty with condos and strip malls. If Florida doesn’t get its growth under control, development and concrete are all that will be left.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, enviroment, Florida, Population growth, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 29, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Listing decision part of far-reaching settlement for imperiled species
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Chugging ahead on its commitment to make endangered species listing decisions for more than 750 species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week announced that three native Florida plants — all threatened by sea level rise — deserved protected status.
Most populations of the plants — aboriginal prickly apple, Florida semaphore cactus and Cape Sable thoroughwort are at, or just above, mean sea level.
“These native plants are being squeezed out of existence — pressed between coastal development and rising sea levels,” said Florida-based Center for Biological Diversity attorney Jaclyn Lopez. “Protection under the Endangered Species Act will give them a role in South Florida’s planning for rising seas.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: endangered species act, Florida, global warming, sea level rise | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A loggerhead sea turtle off the coast of New England. Photo courtesy NOAA/Matthew Weeks.
Findings suggest need for broader habitat protection
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A USGS study tracking threatened loggerhead sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico suggests the turtles may need broader habitat protection to recover. The loggerheads roam far and wide between nesting beaches, and to offshore habitat in a single season, through waters impacted by oil and fishing industries.
The findings also cast new uncertainties on current estimates of the size of the species’ Gulf of Mexico subpopulation, based on nest counts.
“Our research shows that the same turtle could easily deposit eggs in Alabama and Florida if nests are separated by about 2 weeks,” said lead author Kristen Hart, a USGS research ecologist.. “Population numbers based on nest counts may therefore be biased upwards if nests at the two sites were assumed to have come from two different females.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Alabama, Florida, loggerhead sea turtles, marine conservation Gulf of Mexico, oceans, St. Joseph Peninsula | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Will the Endangered Species Act save the Miami blue butterfly? Photo via USFWS.
40-year-old law seen as bulwark against biodiversity crisis
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — If you can imagine looking up at the night sky and watching familiar stars blinking out forever, then you might have some sense of what’s going on with the planet’s plants and animals in part of the greatest wave of extinctions and biodiversity loss in many thousands of years.
The constellation of life is losing stars at an alarming and increasing rate, including the likely extinction of two Florida butterfly species announced last week by the U.S. Fishd and Wildlife Service — Florida Zestos and rockland grass skippers.
In a press release, conservation groups say the loss of the two species could have been saved with the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, endangered species act, extinction, Florida | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 19, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A manatee comes up for air in Florida’s Crystal River.
CRYSTAL RIVER — Getting a closeup look at marine mammals is always a treat. I believe we have a lot more in common with our ocean-going friends than we realize, and we should be trying to listen to what they have to say. This week, I had a chance to visit the Crystal River in Florida this week to look for manatees. The gentle vegetarians are protected by various federal and state laws, but they are still struggling due to extensive development and other human activities along the Florida coast. One of the best places to catch a glimpse of manatees is at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park about 45 minutes north of Tampa, Florida. Biologists at the park help rehabilitate manatees that have been injured by boat strikes, and from the park’s manatee observatory, it’s easy to see the deep scars on their backs. We’ve made some progress on protecting these magnificent marine mammals, but there’s more work to be done. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Morning photo, photography | Tagged: Crystal River, endangered species, Florida, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, manatees, marine mammals | 3 Comments »
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
More than 700 miles of beaches included in USFWS proposal
A long swath of Florida’s Gulf Coast has been proposed as critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Federal biologists have proposed protecting hundreds of miles of U.S. shoreline from North Carolina to Mississippi to protect critical nesting habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.
Florida beaches could be especially crucial to the survival of the species, with the most recent science showing that the state harbors one of only two global loggerhead aggregations with more than 10,000 nesting females nesting per year. The other is on Masirah Island, Oman.
The proposed critical habitat areas include 90 nesting beaches in coastal counties located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. The proposed areas incorporate about 740 beach shoreline miles and account for approximately 84 percent of the documented nesting in these six states. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, critical habitat, Florida, loggerhead sea turtles, national marine fisheries service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Measures don’t meet Clean Water Act requirements
Florida’s Everglades are threatened by a new state water plan. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Watchdog grous are characterizing a proposed Florida water quality plan as a give-away to polluting industries, creating even more loopholes to spew sewage, manure, and fertilizer into Florida waters, according to watchdog groups who sued the state and federal government in 2008 for their failure to set pollution limits, as required by the Clean Water Act.
“We have record numbers of dead manatees washing up on southwest Florida right now, in the prime of our tourist season,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “Where is the leadership? This is an absolute sell out. This bogus plan gives deep-pocketed polluters even more loopholes. And what do we, the public, get? More gross, slimy algae in the water.”
Earthjustice said the plan was developed in a shady backroom deal without public input, and pointed out that a federal court has to review the plan under the terms of an earlier settlement agreement. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, wetlands | Tagged: Clean Water Act, Earthjustice, EPA, Everglades, Florida, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Beachin’ it …
Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
FRISCO —It’s always nice to dream about the beach about now, when the snow in the Colorado high country is probably piled about as deep as it’s going to get for the winter. That doesn’t mean I’m about to abandon the slopes to head for warmer climes, but a little day dreaming never hurt anything. Plus, shooting beach scenes is the most fun thing to do with a camera after shooting mountains and snow. These are a few of my favorite ocean side scenes along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Visit our FineArt America online gallery for more photography.
Port St. Joe, Florida.
Filed under: Florida, Morning photo, photography, Travel | Tagged: beaches, Florida, landscapes, photography, Travel | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A spiny lobster in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Conservation in the Florida Keys benefits ecosystems and fisheries
By Summit Voice
FRISCO —Over-fished species like black and red grouper are making a comeback in south Florida waters thanks to strict management of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The 151-square nautical mile Tortugas Ecological Reserve was designated by the Florida Keys sanctuary in 2001, and its design involved extensive collaboration between commercial and recreational fishermen, divers, scientists, conservationists, citizens-at-large and resource managers. The reserve is closed to all consumptive use, including fishing and anchoring, and a portion of it is open only to permitted marine researchers. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Black grouper, Florida, Florida Keys marine sanctuary, marine sanctuaries, oceans, red grouper, Tortugas Ecological Reserve | 1 Comment »