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Environmental Roundup May 21, 2021

787px-Albatross_at_Midway_Atoll_Refuge_(8080507529).jpg
Image by Chris Jordan (via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters) via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).
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The unaltered stomach contents of a dead albatross chick photographed on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific in September 2009 include plastic marine debris fed the chick by its parents.

We are all connected by the environment we share. The Earth is our home. This is the space where we share the environmental stories that caught our attention this week, in Florida and beyond.

FLORIDA:

A reminder that if you suffer from respiratory irritation due to red tide, wearing your COVID mask might help. US Fish and Wildlife Service agrees.

The Herald Tribune reports the Environmental Conservancy of North Port is raising funds to purchase property for threatened scrub jay habitat. Scrub jays are classified as a threatened species by both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. John Oliver recently highlighted the bird on Last Week Tonight and on the show’s Facebook page, noting, “Join us in calling to make the Florida Scrub Jay the official bird of Florida. It’s a B-plus bird, which is exactly what Florida deserves!”

And the Herald Tribune also reports Sarasota County Commissioners has agreed to purchase two large properties totaling 1,490 acres for environmental conservation. The properties contain scrubby and pine flatwoods, dry prairie, hammock and wetlands habitat as well as improved pasture land. The properties are home to species including roseate spoonbills, bobcats and white-tailed deer. The county is acquiring the land through a $3.4 million dollar easement purchase. Sarasota County officials have been looking to buy the properties for nearly a decade.

WLRN reports that pillar coral, already rare on Florida’s reefs, is now extinct. You can read the study yourself here.

Florida Gulf Coast University is looking to build a new artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of North Naples.

And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking volunteers to study the health effects of exposure to cyanotoxins produced by blue-green algae blooms.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Environmental Policy Director James Evans has a well-thought out op-ed in a recent issue of the News-Press on Lake O, the Caloosahatchee, and the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual.

BEYOND:

Environmental Health News reports that pesticides are becoming increasingly toxic for the world's most important insects, noting “Over the last 25 years, the toxicity of 381 pesticides in the U.S. more than doubled for pollinators and aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans, mayflies, and dragonflies, according to a new study.”

And as the rest of the world tackles plastics, the world’s biggest resister to shifting off the toxic fossil fuel-based product is the United States. Mongabay reports: In an expansion of the U.N.’s 1989 Basel Convention, amendments to the international protocol on the shipment of hazardous waste were revised to include plastics in 2021, with nations currently figuring out how to implement the agreement....The U.S. remains a major dumper of hazardous waste globally, including large amounts of plastics, despite the attempted limitations imposed by the Basel Convention. The potential impacts of plastics and other “novel entities” on human health and ecosystems are largely unknown.”

While we here in Florida often worry about the environmental impact of agriculture waste from farms, the raw sewage waste of industrial-farmed animals often isn’t brought up. But in North Carolina, the issue is huge, especially when facing major hurricanes. The waste, which contains bacteria including E. coli and salmonella, can contaminate local waterways and groundwater--causing fish kills and making drinking water unusable. Environmental Health News reports.

Learn about all this and more on our website, WGCU.org, and be sure to signup for our monthly environmental newsletter, Green Flash.

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Courtesy Naples Botanical Garen
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Naples Botanical Garden is free for essential workers and their families this summer.

Do & Learn

  • Snook, Amberjack, and gray triggerfish season is ending June 1 while gag grouper begins June 1. Find a place to fish using Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Florida Fishing Pier Finder, an interactive map that allows anglers to find publicly-accessed fishing piers, jetties and fishing-specific bridges in freshwater and saltwater locations throughout the state. Visit MyFWC.com/PierFinder to search for a location by county.
  • Captains for Clean Water has a short educational video about blue-green algae.
  • If you know a young person in grades 8, 9, or 10 interested in marine science, the Summer Institute for Marine Science (SIMS) has a half-day summer camp in marine biology. Young people will explore estuarine and coastal ecology of Southwest Florida through excursions within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Click here for more information.
  • If you know a young person who would be interested in hunting, the FWC has a mentored youth hunting program. Visit MyFWC.com/YHPF.
  • Another FWC effort, the Florida Youth Conservation Center Network offers camp programs with numerous activities focused on the theme of conservation-centered recreation. Learn more by visiting FYCCN.org.
  • Get certified as a Florida Friendly Fishing Guide. Scholarships are available.
  • The theme of Charlotte County’s 2022 county calendar will be "One Charlotte, One Water," and the county is calling on the public to submit photos that feature water in Charlotte County. They’ll select 15 photos to be featured in the 2022 One Charlotte, One Water calendar. Email your photos to Brian.Gleason@CharlotteCountyFL.gov.
  • Naples Botanical Garden invites essential workers and their families to visit the Garden on a complimentary basis through September 30, 2021.

Want to influence your local environment? There’s probably a public meeting for that.

Eastern Collier County developments Bellmar, Longwater, and the planned town agreement will go to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, May 25th, and the RLSA amendments will go to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, June 8th. Check out Collier County’s full public calendar here.

Charlotte County still has several committee vacancies to fill and many have something to do with the environment. Learn more at https://www.charlottecountyfl.gov/news/charlotte-county-committee-vacancies.stml

Got an environment story or tip to share? Email Valerie Vande Panne at Vvandepanne@wgcu.org.