Tag: Florida

Florida harbor dredging threatens corals

Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Activists plan lawsuit to win more environmental protection

Staff Report

Even with coral reefs around the world under the global warming gun, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking approval for a controversial Florida dredging project that could smother parts of the only coastal barrier reef in the continental United States.

But a coalition of environmental and community groups have banded together to try and the the Corps to provide mandatory, common-sense protections for reefs near the Port Everglades dredging project near Fort Lauderdale. The project’s goal is to increase coastal access for larger ships. Continue reading “Florida harbor dredging threatens corals”

Florida’s latest invasive species is a potential man-eater

Nile crocodiles may be spreading out Florida. Photo courtesy MathKnight and Zachi Evenor, via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Scientists say Nile crocs may be thriving in Sunshine State swamps

Staff Report

The latest non-native species to invade Florida’s subtropical clime is a man-eater, according to University of Florida researchers who say they’ve genetically identified Nile crocodiles living in the swamps of the Sunshine State.

The aquatic reptiles can grow as long as 18 feet and weigh as much as a small car, and in their native habitat eat everything from hippos and zebras to humans. In Florida, they could eat native birds, fish and mammals, as well as the state’s native crocodile and alligators, said the researchers, have confirmed the capture of multiple Nile crocodiles in the wild, using DNA analysis.

Crocodylus niloticus, as they’re known scientifically, were blamed for at least 480 attacks on people and 123 fatalities in Africa between 2010 and 2014. Three juveniles, likely released by humans, have been found in South Florida, swimming in the Everglades and relaxing on a house porch in Miami. Continue reading “Florida’s latest invasive species is a potential man-eater”

Will the Zika virus spread into the United States?

South Texas, Florida seen as vulnerable

Climate and demographic factors could make parts of the southern U.S. vulnerable to the spread of the Zika virus.

Staff Report

Combing climate data with travel patterns, researchers with the Center for Disease Control and the National Center for Atmospheric Research say Zika virus outbreaks could occur as soon as this summer in parts of south Texas and Florida.

The study shows that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the virus in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, probably will become more abundant across much of the southern and eastern United States as the weather warms.

Summer weather conditions are favorable for the disease-carrying mosquito as far north as New York City and across the southern tier of the country as far west as Phoenix and Los Angeles, the models show. Continue reading “Will the Zika virus spread into the United States?”

Environment: Less light pollution along Florida beaches is good news for sea turtles

A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.
A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Lighting ordinances help protect nesting turtles

Staff Report

Coastal development may still be running rampant in Florida, but there are some signs that a concerted effort to protect sea turtles from at least some of the impacts is paying off.

A study that started as a high school science project suggests that a network of sea turtle-friendly lighting ordinances along Florida’s coast seems to be working by darkening beaches, which is a big deal because scientists already know that sea turtles are disturbed brightly lit areas. The findings fit in with other studies that assess the impacts of light pollution on wildlife.

“Florida’s coastlines are getting darker, and that’s a good thing not just for sea turtles but for other organisms,” said University of Central Floria biology professor John Weishampel, co-author of the study published last week in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation. “It shows we affect turtles’ nesting, but at the same time we’ve been successful at reducing that effect.” Continue reading “Environment: Less light pollution along Florida beaches is good news for sea turtles”

Comeback spurs plan to downlist manatees

Manatees gathering at a freshwater spring in Florida. @bberwyn photo.

Protection efforts pay off for the marine mammals

Staff Report

Federal biologists say manatees are on the road to recovery and they’re proposed to downlist the species from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

When scientists started tracking the gentle marine mammals, the Florida population was estimated at about 1,200. In the last 25 years that population has grown to about 6,300, with 13,000 across the species’ range, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Greater and Lesser Antilles. Continue reading “Comeback spurs plan to downlist manatees”

Fossil fuel development looms at Florida preserve

fla oil map
Conservation advocates are concerned about a proposal to explore for oil and gas in Big Cypress National Preserve.

Risky business in one of the country’s most biodiverse regions

Staff Report

FRISCO — No place is safe from the never-ending quest to feed modern society’s addiction to fossil fuels. One of the latest targets is Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, where Burnett Oil, of Ft. Worth, Texas, is seeking a permit to do seismic testing across approximately 110 square miles.

The National Park Service is taking comments on the proposal  at this website through Aug. 16, and conservation advocates are rallying supporters to try and block or limit the proposal. Continue reading “Fossil fuel development looms at Florida preserve”

Biodiversity: Mixed messages on manatee threats

Manatees gather at a warm-water spring in western Florida. @bberwyn photo.

Loss of seagrass habitat, red tide events still seen as key threats

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new report on threats to manatees is full of mixed signals, on the one hand downgrading the extinction threat, but on the other, warning that loss of habitat and cold-water mortality events are still huge threats.

The study, led by the  U.S. Geological Survey, is part of a five-year status review for the endangered marine mammal.  The scientists concluded that  the long-term probability of the species surviving has increased compared to a 2007 analysis, mainly because of higher aerial survey estimates of population size, improved methods of tracking survival rates, and better estimates of the availability of warm-water refuges. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Mixed messages on manatee threats”