Showing posts with label Ocean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ocean. Show all posts

Monday, March 12, 2018

Lake Wind Advisory For East Central Florida

The National Weather Service has issued a Lake Wind Advisory for Volusia, Lake, Orange, Seminole, Brevard, Osceola, Indian River, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, and Martin counties that will remain in effect from noon today until 8 p.m. tonight.

West winds will increase to 20 to 25 mph by mid-to-late afternoon with gusts to around 35 mph as scattered showers and isolated lighting storms develop out ahead of a strong cold front.

Cells will move rapidly from the west to the east at 45 to 55 mph. This will take activity quickly off of the east coast and across the intracoastal and near shore Atlantic waters.

The greatest threats this morning will be north of I-4 and also further south across Okeechobee County and the Treasure Coast. Threats from the strongest cells include occasional lightning strike, brief heavy downpours, and gusty winds of 35 to 45 mph.

The gusty winds will create choppy conditions across inland lakes. Boaters should exercise caution and always wear a life jacket on the water.

Small Craft Advisories are also in effect for the local coastal waters for the increasing winds and building seas. A Gale Warning will go into effect this afternoon for offshore marine legs north of Sebastian Inlet, as frequent gusts to gale force are forecast. Seas will build through late tonight up to 8 to 11 feet over the Gulf Stream.

Small boats will be especially prone to capsizing.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

2018 Florida Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins

March 1 is the official start of the sea turtle nesting season.
From now through the end of October, three different species of sea turtle will land on Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coast beaches to lay their eggs. 

MARCH – JULY: Leatherback sea turtles begin to come ashore from March through July to lay their eggs. Florida is the only state in the continental U.S. where leatherback sea turtles regularly nest. With the exception of a few nests on the west coast, leatherbacks nest almost exclusively on the east coast of Florida. In fact, about 50 percent of leatherback nesting occurs in Palm Beach County.

APRIL – SEPTEMBER: Loggerhead sea turtles typically nest in Florida from April through September. In the United States, 90 percent of all loggerhead nesting occurs in Florida. The majority of this nesting takes place on the east coast of Florida. In fact, in Brevard County there were 23,457 loggerhead nests in 2014.

JUNE – SEPTEMBER: Green sea turtle nesting in Florida occurs from June through late September with the highest concentration of nests along Florida’s east coast – but green turtle nests have been found in every coastal county of the Sunshine State. 

People can help sea turtles that nest on Florida’s beaches at night by leaving the beach as natural as possible. To do this, beachgoers should remove beach furniture and other obstacles before sunset each day.

  “Anyone spending time on Florida’s beaches can do something to help save Florida’s threatened and endangered sea turtles. People’s actions on the beach can have a positive impact on whether our loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtles nest successfully,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who leads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sea turtle management program.

Trenches and holes left by a sand artist celebrating Earth Day created a hazard for endangered nesting sea turtles in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
“Whether you are a resident or a visitor, remember to take beach furniture, boats and canopies off Florida’s sandy beaches at night so these items won’t block sea turtles attempting to nest,” Trindell said. “When departing at the end of the day, beach visitors should fill any holes dug in the sand so nesting and hatchling turtles don’t become trapped. Please be careful not to disturb nesting sea turtles by getting too close, shining lights on them or taking flash photos.”

Exactly when sea turtle nesting season starts depends on where you are in Florida. While it begins in March on the Atlantic coast, it starts later in the spring in late April or May along the Gulf coast. Yet wherever you are in the Sunshine State, what you do on the beach can make a significant difference on whether sea turtles nest successfully.

Florida hosts nearly 90 percent of loggerhead nests within this species’ northern Atlantic Ocean population, the state plays an important role in its conservation.

Report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC).

Photo credit: FWC

Monday, February 12, 2018

Great White Shark ‘Miss Costa’ Tracked Off Cocoa Beach

Great White Shark Off Cocoa Beach

COCOA BEACH, Florida – A great white shark weighing over 1,600 pounds that was tagged with a radio transponder has had its latest ping location off of Cocoa Beach, Florida on February 11, 2018.

The 12-foot, 5-inch great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), named Miss Costa, that was tagged off  of Nantucket, Massachusetts in 2016, has quickly been making her way southward along Florida’s east coast.

The great white shark was just off the Florida Keys as late as February 5, 2018, but then swam over 200 miles north to Florida’s Space Coast in less than a week.

Great White Shark Tracking Map Florida

The great white shark population has been growing along the U.S. East Coast, according to a study by NOAA Fisheries.

The study also found that great white sharks occur primarily between Massachusetts and New Jersey during the summer, off Florida during winter, and with a broad distribution along the U.S. East Coast during spring and fall.

Female great white sharks are believed to be mature when they are about 13-14 feet and can reach sizes up to about 21 feet in length.

To follow the Miss Costa’s latest location, visit the Ocearch tracking map.

Image credits: Ocearch, Google

Blue Buttons Wash Up On Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral

Blue Button (Porpita porpita)

CAPE CANAVERAL and COCOA BEACH, Florida – Small, circular sea creatures with ‘spokes’ extending outwardly are washing ashore on Brevard County beaches.

Blue Buttons (Porpita porpita) are catching the prevailing southeasterly winds that have already blown ashore Portuguese Man-o-War, Blue Dragon Sea Slugs, and By-the-Wind Sailors onto Florida’s east coast.

Blue Buttons aren’t jellyfish. They are Chondrophores – a colony of colony of hydrozoan polyps that only appear to be one marine animal. 

Although they are similar to Portuguese Man-o-War, Blue Buttons do not have a powerful sting to humans. Instead, their venom produces a slight itchiness to people who are not allergic to the toxin.

Blue Buttons feed on crustacean larvae. Their natural predators are Blue Sea Dragons.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

VIDEO: Sharks Spotted At Jetty Park In Cape Canaveral

Three Sharks At Jetty Park

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Three sharks were swimming in just inches of water around 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 11, 2018, off of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The trio of sharks were approximately 3-feet-long and swimming just off of Jetty Park, a popular weekend destination for tourists and Orlando-area day-trippers.

All three sharks were yellow in color and appeared to have dorsal fins similar to the lemon shark species Negaprion brevirostris.

Their yellow coloring helps to camouflage the aquatic predator when seeking out prey along the Atlantic Ocean’s sandy bottom.

Lemon sharks can grow up to 8 to 10 feet once they reach maturity.

According to the International Shark Attack File, lemon sharks were responsible for 10 unprovoked attacks in Florida and the Caribbean, a relatively low amount compared to other shark species.

Brevard County has the second-most number of shark attacks in Florida while neighboring Volusia County has the most.

By-the-Wind Sailor wash up on Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach

By-the-Wind Sailors

CAPE CANAVERAL and COCOA BEACH, Florida – Small, oval sea creatures with a transparent sail and blue bottom are washing ashore on Brevard County beaches. 

By-the-Wind Sailors, also called sea rafts or Velella velella, are catching the prevailing southeasterly winds that have already blown ashore Portuguese Man-o-War on Florida’s east coast.

By-the-Wind Sailors aren’t jellyfish. They are siphonophores – a colony of separate specialized organisms that only appear to be one marine animal.  

Although they are related to Portuguese Man-o-War, Velella do not have a powerful sting to humans. Instead, their venom produces a slight itchiness to people who are not allergic to the toxin.

Velella feed on plankton. Their natural predators are Blue Sea Dragons which have also been spotted on Florida’s east coast this month.

Velella usually remain far out in the open sea and are not often seen on Florida’s beaches unless a persistent wind blows these natural tiny blue sailboats onto the beach.

Deadly Blue Dragon Sea Slugs Wash Up On Cape Canaveral, Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Deadly Blue Dragon sea slugs that eat Portuguese Man-o-War washed up on the beaches of Cape Canaveral, Florida on Saturday, February 10, 2017.

Blue Dragons, known scientifically as Glaucus atlanticus, are sea slugs that float at the ocean’s surface and consume jellyfish, including Portuguese Man-o-War, Blue Buttons and By-the-Wind Sailors, which have also appeared on Brevard County beaches.

The Blue Dragons are not only immune to jellyfish’s venom, but can actually store the venom they consume in their own bodies as protection from predators.

This eye-catching sea slug is often found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans but is also known to wash up from time to time on Florida’s east coast.

But don’t pick up Blue Dragons with your bare hands if you see one on the beach.

That’s because they are able to concentrate the venom and have a worse sting than Portuguese Man-o-War, and can cause a fatal allergic reaction in some people.

Venomous Blue Dragons were spotted in South Florida in late January, but have now made their way up to Central Florida’s east coast.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Cocoa Beach Shark and Jellyfish Report For February 10, 2018

Cocoa Beach Shark

COCOA BEACH, Florida – It won’t be a good week to go swimming off of Cocoa Beach, Florida due to the presence of Portuguese Man of War.

SHARKS: Small Bonnethead sharks (also known as Shovelhead sharks) 2 to 3-feet-long that resemble Hammerhead sharks are present in the surf zone.

Spinner sharks 2 to 4-feet-long are present off of Cocoa Beach, primarily around, and just beyond, the wave break. Spinner sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna) can grow up to 9 feet long and have a unique feeding technique of leaping into the air while spinning.

Blacktip sharks 2 to 4-feet-long are also present in the surf zone and shallow waters. Blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) are the number one species responsible for biting humans along the U.S. East Coast.  The shark has black tips on its pectoral fins and grows to no more than about six feet.

Blacktip sharks can swim in just inches of water where toddlers often play.

Portuguese Man-of-War On Cocoa Beach

JELLYFISH: Recent easterly winds have been blowing Portuguese Man-of-War (technically, Portuguese Man-of-War aren’t jellyfish but are instead a colony of small organisms called Siphonophorae) along with heavy amounts of seaweed onto the popular tourist beaches.

Often, the Portuguese Man-of-War are entangled in the seaweed which makes it harder for beachgoers to see the stinging marine life before it is too late.

According to the National Weather Service in Melbourne, prevailing southeasterly winds will continue through the week. So, there will be a good chance that Portuguese Man-of-War will remain along Florida’s Space Coast beaches through at least Friday.

The Portuguese Man-of-War can be identified from other jellyfish in Florida by its translucent blue and purple gas-filled air sac that helps them travel long distances across the ocean by acting as a wind-driven sail.

A violet-colored stinging tentacle cluster mass under the body can have tentacles that may extend up to ten or fifteen feet. These stinging, venom-filled tentacles are designed to paralyze small fish but can also deliver a powerful sting to humans who wade into the water or play on the beach.

Seaweed: A small amount of golden Sargassum seaweed is present along Brevard County beaches and in the surf zone which will make it harder to spot sharks and jellyfish in the water.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Brevard County Ocean Rescue Lifeguard Tryouts February 24

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – Brevard County Ocean Rescue will host open tryouts for seasonal lifeguards on Saturday, February 24th, 2018. Candidates selected as ocean lifeguards will work from March to October 2018.

Applicants trying out should be at the Rockledge High School swimming pool located at 220 Raider Road no later than 7 a.m. Candidates will not be permitted to test if they are late. 

Although no life-guarding experience is necessary, candidates must possess strong swimming skills and be over the age of 16 by March 10, the first day of training.

All candidates must bring a valid driver’s license, Social Security card, appropriate swim attire, a towel, and running shoes.

Candidates will be required to swim 500 meters in less than 10 minutes, complete a 1-mile run on a track in less than 10 minutes and perform a physical agility test that includes push-ups. 

Advanced registration is not required. However, applicants are reminded that testing will begin promptly and anyone arriving after testing begins will not be permitted to try out.

If selected, completion of the hiring process is dependent on the candidate’s ability to pass a background test and successful completion of  Brevard County Ocean Rescue’s paid training academy. 

The starting pay for Brevard County Ocean Rescue lifeguards is $10.24/hour.

Lifeguard Academy Class Dates for selected candidates (Must attend all dates):

March 10,11,17,18,24, and 25

April 14,15,21,22,28, and 29

(Subject to Change)

For additional information on the tryouts and Brevard County Ocean Rescue, please visit the department’s page at You can also contact an Ocean Rescue staff member at 321-633-2056 or email at [email protected].

Photo credit: Brevard County Ocean Rescue

Monday, February 5, 2018

35% of 2017 Worldwide Shark Attacks Happened In Florida

COCOA BEACH, Florida – Florida accounted for 58% of all shark attacks in the U.S. and 35% of the world’s total in 2017, according to the University of Florida International Shark Attack File (ISAF) 2017 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary.

Both percentages are higher than the recent (2011-2015) averages of 49.2%, and 29.0% respectively.

The 31 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida are slightly higher than the most recent five-year annual average of 29 incidents, but lower than 2016’s annual total of 35.

Shark Attacks Highest In East Central Florida 

Volusia County (Daytona Beach area) had the most shark attacks (9) representing 29% of the Florida total, but lower than the 2016 total of 15 cases. The remaining incidents occurred in Brevard (Cocoa Beach area)  (7), Palm Beach (5), Duval (3), and Martin (2) counties, with single incidents occurring in Indian River, Okaloosa, St. Johns, St. Lucie, and Miami-Dade counties.

Researchers say that the higher number of shark bites in Florida waters closest to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando is attributable to high aquatic recreational use by both Florida residents and tourists, including large numbers of surfers, and to the rich nature of its marine fauna.

Shark Attacks By Water Activity

Following recent trends, surfers and those participating in board sports accounted for most incidents (59% of the total cases). This group spends a large amount of time in the surf zone, an area commonly frequented by sharks, and may unintentionally attract sharks by splashing, paddling, and “wiping out.” 

Swimmers and waders accounted for 22% of incidents, snorkelers/free divers 9%, Scuba divers 2%, body-surfers and those playing in the wave zone (3%), and those participating in other shallow water activities (5%).

U.S. Shark Attacks In 2017

The United States experienced the most unprovoked shark attacks in 2017 (53 cases). This represents 60.2% of the worldwide total. This is a slight decline from 2016 which saw 56 unprovoked attacks, but on par with the most recent five-year annual average of 54. Significantly, the United States did not have any shark attacks that resulted in a fatality.

Outside of Florida, U.S. attacks were recorded in South Carolina (10), Hawaii (6), and California (2) with single incidents in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Significantly, South Carolina’s ten incidents were higher than its annual average of five incidents. 

Image: Great White Shark. Credit: Greg Skomal / Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Florida Manatee Count Hits Record High On East Coast

Manatees photographed during annual population survey. Credit: FWC

Manatees on Florida’s East Coast hit a new record high of 3,731, topping last year’s record high of 3,488, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

FWC reported a preliminary count of 6,131 manatees in Florida during the 2018 statewide aerial survey which is conducted annually in late January.

A team of 15 observers from 10 organizations counted 3,731 manatees on Florida’s east coast and 2,400 manatees on the west coast of the state.

This year’s statewide count of 6,131 manatees is down from last year’s record count of 6,620. However, it is still the third-highest count since record-keeping began in 1991.

Florida’s west coast saw a drop from 3,132 in 2017 to 2,400 in 2018, the lowest count since 2010. But the 2018 west coast count remains the seventh-highest on record.

Florida’s manatee count has exceeded 6,000 manatees for the last four years, which is more than double the count 15 years ago.

As a result of the manatee comeback, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the manatee from the Endangered Species List because studies showed that it is unlikely the manatee population will fall below 4,000 for the next 100 years.

Is The Manatee Boom Hurting The Indian River Lagoon?

Many Brevard County waterfront property owners, boaters, and anglers blame the increased manatee population for the Indian River Lagoon’s plight.

Citizens for Florida’s Waterways (CFW) contends that the manatee boom is putting too much pressure on the seagrass and nutrient load in the Indian River Lagoon.

That’s because an 800 to 1,200-pound adult sea cow can eat up 10% to 15% of its body weight daily in aquatic vegetation which mostly consists of seagrass.

According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Manatee Recovery Plan, manatees sometimes graze on seagrass which leaves the possibility for regrowth – but manatees also “root” seagrass – meaning the entire plant is pulled and the underwater sediment is disturbed.

Based on those consumption rates and grazing method, CFW calculated that an average manatee can consume and/or destroy around 3 acres of seagrass a year, depending on the density of the seagrass per acre.

In 2014, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection addressed the effect of the increased manatee population on the nutrient load in the Indian River Lagoon:

“At the time the seagrass TMDLs were developed [in 2009], manatees were not considered as major nutrient contributors to the Indian River Lagoon because not all the data needed to quantify the manatee nutrient contribution were available.  It is worth noting that manatees have been part of the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem for a long time,” FDEP stated.

“Based on the Department’s Nutrient and Dissolved Oxygen TMDLs for the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River Lagoon report (FDEP, 2009), the long-term annual average TN [Total Nitrogen] and TP [Total Phosphorous] loads entering the Indian River Lagoon system are about 1511 tons and 216 tons, respectively.  The 25 to 109 tons of TN and 2 to 7 tons of TP contributed by manatees only account for about 1.7% to 6.7% of TN loads and 0.7% to 3.0% of TP loads entering the Indian River Lagoon system.”

“We have at least got [FDEP’s] attention to the subject,” CFW President Bob Atkins said of FDEP’s analysis of the manatee’s nutrient impact on the Indian River Lagoon.  “My conclusion is that seagrass loss is worse [from manatee consumption] than I have calculated and free nutrients are not as bad.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

VIDEO: Surfers Save Pelican At Cocoa Beach Pier

Surfer saves pelican

COCOA BEACH, Florida – Surfers saved a Florida Brown Pelican that was entangled in fishing line near the Cocoa Beach Pier on Sunday.

One surfer attempted to bite the fishing line in order to free the sea bird without success.

A few moments later, another surfer paddled up to aid in the animal rescue and successfully broke the strong monofilament as onlookers watched the scene unfold from a tiki bar at the end of the Cocoa Beach Pier.

Tourists at Cocoa Beach Pier Tiki Bar

The surfer was able to untangle the pelican from the fishing line.  After taking a few minutes to realize that it was free, the pelican flew away.

The pelicans themselves are a tourist attraction, gracing thousands of selfies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that are taken by people visiting Cocoa Beach, Florida.

The brown pelican was removed from the Endangers Species List in 1985.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Men Charged With Using Gill Nets In Indian River Lagoon

MERRITT ISLAND, Florida – Four men were arrested for allegedly fishing with an illegal gill net in the Indian River Lagoon on Sunday.

Gill nets are designed to allow fish to get only their head through the netting, but not their body. The fish’s gills then get caught in the mesh as the fish tries to back out of the net. As the fish struggles to free itself, it becomes more and more entangled.

Gill nets pose a hazard to endangered species because dolphins and sea turtles can become entangled in the net and drown.

The men were allegedly fishing with a gill net in excess of 2,000 square feet, a third-degree felony, in the Banana River near Pineda Causeway off of south Merritt Island, Florida.

Florida Fish and Wildlife also charged the men for illegal possession of snook out of season; undersized red fish, stone crab, and sheeps head; and over the bag limits of sheeps head, red fish, and mullet; and failure to display a fishing license. 

All four men were booked in the Brevard County Jail on bonds exceeding $10,000.

Silver Springs, Maryland

Silver Springs, Maryland

Carlos Pineda- Durantes
Charlotte, North Carolina

David Santiago Salinas-Lopez
Orlando, Florida

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Florida Surfers Brave Winter Storm Grayson 2018

Surfer Braves Winter Storm Grayson 2018 In Cocoa Beach, Florida

COCOA BEACH, Florida – 20-degree wind chills, freeze warnings, and high surf advisories generated by Winter Storm Grayson didn’t stop a group of surfers catching clean breaks off the coast of Cocoa Beach, Florida.

While most Floridians were testing out space heaters and prepare firewood for their fireplaces, about a dozen surfers donned wet suits to catch sets of waves breaking just south of the Cocoa Beach Pier despite the gusty winds in excess of 30 mph and a 20 degree drop in temperatures in Brevard County, Florida on Wednesday, January 3, 2017.

Although the high westerly winds created wind chill factors into the high-20’s, those same westerly winds generated clean breaking waves off of the East Coast Surfing Capitol.

Most of the daring surfers remained in the chilly water for hours to catch as many waves as possible before the Sun set as Winter Storm 2018 grips the U.S. east coast. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Great White Shark ‘Savannah’ Tracked Between Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach

COCOA BEACH, Florida – A great white shark weighing over 450 pounds that was tagged with a radio transponder to be tracked by satellite has had its latest ping location off of Florida’s Space Coast between Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach on January 1, 2018.

The 8-foot, 6-inch great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), named Savannah, that was tagged off  Hilton Head, South Carolina in March 2017, has quickly been making her way southward along Florida’s coast.

Savannah had remained just off the South Carolina coast as late as December 22, 2017, but then swam over 200 miles south to Florida’s Space Coast in just ten days.

The great white shark population has been growing along the U.S. East Coast, according to a study by NOAA Fisheries.

The study also found that great white sharks occur primarily between Massachusetts and New Jersey during the summer, off Florida during winter, and with a broad distribution along the U.S. East Coast during spring and fall.

Female great white sharks are believed to be mature when they are about 13-14 feet and can reach sizes up to about 21 feet in length.

To follow the Savannah’s latest location, visit the Ocearch tracking map.

Image credit: Google

Saturday, November 18, 2017

2017 Green Sea Turtle Nests Hit Record High In Florida

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced a record year for the number of green sea turtle nests in Florida. FWC staff documented approximately 39,000 green sea turtle nests, based on 27 Florida index beaches used to assess nesting trends.

Nearly 30 years ago, only 464 green sea turtle nests were recorded on the 200 miles of beaches that are part of the Index Nesting Beach Survey. By 2011, the count was up to 10,701 green sea turtle nests; in 2013, it was 25,553 nests; and in 2015, it was about 28,000. The counts on index beaches represent about 68 percent of green sea turtle nests statewide. Green sea turtles nest more abundantly every other year, which contributes to the two-year spikes in their nesting numbers in Florida.

 Last year, the green sea turtles that nest on Florida beaches were reclassified from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ under the federal Endangered Species Act.”

Green Sea Turtle Nest Count History

Green turtles, named for their green body fat, were valued by European settlers in the New World for their meat, hide, eggs, and “calipee” (the fat attached to the lower shell that formed the basis of the popular green turtle soup). Merchants learned that the sea turtles could be kept alive by turning them on their backs in a shaded area. This discovery made it possible to ship fresh turtles to overseas markets. By 1878, 15,000 green turtles a year were shipped from Florida and the Caribbean to England.

The final 2017 sea turtle nesting numbers from the FWC’s more comprehensive Statewide Nesting Beach Survey, covering 800 miles of Florida coastline, will be available in early 2018. Preliminary data, based on the recently completed Index Nesting Beach Survey, indicates the trend for green sea turtle nesting has experienced significant increases over the past 27 years.

“Today’s news is great for Florida and shows that our efforts to conserve Florida’s natural resources are helping the sea turtle population thrive,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott. “Florida’s beaches not only attract millions of visitors but are also home to abundant wildlife, like sea turtles, which is why my Securing Florida’s Future budget builds on our past investments and proposes a record $100 million for beach restoration. I am proud of FWC’s hard work to help our wildlife, and look forward to continuing to see record nesting for years to come.”

Photo credit: NOAA

Thursday, November 16, 2017

U.S. Coast Guard Saves Titusville Boaters On Indian River Lagoon

TITUSVILLE, Florida – The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two boaters Wednesday night after their vessel caught fire on the Indian River near Titusville, Florida.

Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center watchstanders were notified via VHF-FM marine-band radio channel 16 at 10:09 p.m. from two boaters who stated that they were awakened by smoke and their 48-foot catamaran was on fire.

A 29-foot Response Boat – Small (RBS) crew launched from Port Canaveral, Florida at 10:10 p.m. While the RBS crew was en route, the boaters radioed that they were abandoning ship and evacuating into their dinghy.

The RBS crew arrived on scene at about 10:25 p.m. and transferred the boaters to Marina Park where Titusville Fire Rescue crews were waiting.

The boaters were taken to Parrish Medical Center by fire rescue crews and were listed in stable condition. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Coast Guard medevacs 31-year-old man from Carnival Sunshine near Port Canaveral

PORT CANAVERAL, Florida – The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 31-year-old man Tuesday from the cruise ship Carnival Sunshine near Port Canaveral, Florida.

Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center watchstanders received a call at 10:20 p.m. from the crew of the cruise ship Carnival Sunshine stating a passenger was in need of a higher level of medical care.

A Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral 45-foot Response Boat – Medium (RBM) crew launched at 11:07 p.m. with Emergency Medical Service personnel on board.

The RBM crew rendezvoused with the Carnival Sunshine at 12:07 a.m., embarked the passenger and nurse, and then transported them to Jetty Park where Brevard County Fire Rescue Crews were waiting.

The passenger was taken to Health First Cape Canaveral Hospital for further medical treatment.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma Washes Away Thousands of Florida Sea Turtle Nests

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – Hurricane Irma took a devastating toll on incubating sea turtle nests in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important loggerhead and green turtle nesting sites in the world, according to new estimates from the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group.

Researchers found significant dune erosion that swept away some nests and exposed the eggs of others. It was a record year for green turtle nesting along the refuge’s beaches in southern Brevard County, but storm surge due to Hurricane Irma destroyed many unhatched loggerhead and green turtle nests. UCF researchers estimate that of nests laid through the end of September, more than half of the season’s green turtle nests and a quarter of loggerhead nests were lost.

“Last year with Hurricane Matthew, we lucked out because it was a low green turtle year,” said Kate Mansfield, assistant professor and director of the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group, noting that green turtles typically have alternating high and low nesting years. “This year was an extraordinarily exciting year for green turtle nesting, breaking all previous records within the refuge and continuing the conservation success story for the species. Unfortunately, we had another big hurricane this year, highlighting the need for continued conservation efforts in the area.”

Green turtles set a new record in 2017, laying 15,744 nests in the sands of the 13 miles of the Brevard County portion of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge monitored by UCF. An estimated 8,830 of those were lost to the storm. Green turtles nest later in the season than other species, so many of their eggs hadn’t hatched by the time Irma hit. Some 56 percent of total green nests were lost, an estimated 81 percent of those that were still incubating.

Along the same stretch of beach, loggerheads laid 9,690 nests in 2017, but most had already hatched when Irma passed through the region. Still, an estimated 2,290 loggerhead nests were lost. That’s 24 percent of the total loggerhead nests and 91 percent of those that were still incubating when hurricane-driven storm surge came ashore.

The refuge is located at the northern extent of dense leatherback nesting in Florida, but the species nest in far fewer numbers, laying just 23 nests in 2017 within the portion of the refuge monitored by UCF. But they nest earlier than greens and loggerheads, and all of the leatherback nests had finished incubating before the hurricane.

UCF also monitors another 16.4 miles of beaches north of the wildlife refuge, at Patrick Air Force Base and in central Brevard County. Considerably fewer nests are laid there than in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, but the numbers are still high compared to many other parts of the country. On those beaches, an estimated 642 of 2,251 green turtle nests and 831 of 6,229 loggerhead nests were lost due to the hurricane.

The UCF Marine Turtle Research Group also found evidence that some green turtle hatchlings have emerged since the hurricane. And some turtles have continued to come ashore and lay new nests. Within the wildlife refuge, 466 new green turtle nests and eight new loggerhead nests were laid in September following Irma. Along the other UCF-monitored beaches, 72 new green nests and three new loggerhead nests were laid.

Still, the nests aren’t out of danger.

“Green turtles are still nesting, but recent extremely high tides have likely wiped out many of those new nests, too,” said Erin Seney, an assistant research scientist with the UCF group. “The good news is that the nesting habits of sea turtles do protect them from large-scale nest loss and make them more resilient to this kind of event. They lay multiple nests per nesting season, roughly every other year for 30 years or more.”

Article source: UCF / Mark Schlueb. Image credit: FWC

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rare Two-Headed Sea Turtle Discovered

two-headed Loggerhead sea turtle
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Researchers with the University of Central Florida Marine Turtle Research Group discovered a rare two-headed Loggerhead sea turtle while conducting sea turtle nest surveys along Brevard County beaches.

The condition is called Dicephalic parapagus, a rare form of partial twinning where there are two heads side by side on one torso.

Although rare, two-headed sea turtles are not unheard of. In 2012, a two-headed sea turtle hatchling was discovered on Jupiter Island in Broward County, Florida.

Loggerhead sea turtles typically nest in Florida from April through September. In the United States, 90 percent of all loggerhead nesting occurs in Florida. The majority of the Florida nesting takes place on the east coast of Florida. In fact, in Brevard County there were 23,457 loggerhead nests in 2014.

This is not the only rare find made by the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group while conducting sea turtle surveys on Florida’s Space Coast.

In 2016, the researchers found a rare hybrid sea turtle caused by inter-species mating between a green sea turtle and a loggerhead sea turtle in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Photo credit: L. Rittenburg, UCFMTRG intern