Successful Cleanup of Perdido Key Beaches!
International Coastal Cleanup at Perdido Key State Park was a big success despite rainfall during half the cleanup period. Almost 30 volunteers gathered multiple bags of trash and other debris to help keep Perdido Key beaches from the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore to the Alabama border clean and safe. The annual event was organized by the Perdido Key Association, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, and local Florida State Park officials; sponsors Flora-Bama, The Perdido Key Sports Bar & Restaurant, and Vacasa vacation rentals helped fund the souvenir t-shirts distributed to participants.
More Homes on Lost Key?
Lost Key builder Lennar will be asking the Escambia County Development Review Committee for approval to build an additional 90 housing units on Lost Key. Many residents are concerned about the possible environmental damage, trash buildup, congestion and other problems that may result in what some believe is an already overbuilt location. One of the first steps in the development process with be input from County officials on September 22, 2021, but public comments will not be entertained at that time. For more information, go to https://myescambia.com/open-government/meetings/meeting-details/2021/09/22/developmental-services/development-review-committee-198.
Celebrate National Public Lands Day at Local Parks
National Public Lands Day was “Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, this celebration brings out thousands of volunteers to help restore and improve public lands around the country. NPLD is also a ‘Fee-Free Day’—entrance fees are waived at national parks and other public lands.” Volunteer activities at Big Lagoon State Park include participation in the West Beach Beautification project from 9:30 AM until 1:30 PM on September 25, 2021. The Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore has scheduled a cleanup of Johnson Beach from 8:30 until 11:00 AM on September 25, 2021. For more information, go to https://www.neefusa.org/npld.
Hurricane Season 2021
With many properties on Perdido Key still recovering from 2020’s Hurricane Sally, the last thing residents and owners need is a severe tropical storm. Although the Perdido Key area has not suffered a direct hit in 2021, named storms Claudette, Fred, Henri, Ida and Nicholas have already struck the United States particularly affecting Louisiana and with remnants of Nicholas causing significant local flooding in the Pensacola area. With hurricane season officially with us until November 30, Escambia County Emergency Manager Eric Gilmore offers the following advice:
Last year we learned firsthand with Hurricane Sally that hurricanes change course quickly and without much warning. It is extremely important to plan ahead now: know your evacuation zone, know your home and know your plan. COVID-19 is still around so we really want to stress that residents have a plan rather than go to a shelter. The county will provide shelters and will do everything possible to sanitize them, but we know that the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading increases when people are in close living conditions. A shelter should be a last resort. Please get your home ready now if it is rated for hurricane strength activity or reach out to family and friends now to develop a plan to stay somewhere safe if you need to evacuate.”
The BRACE Hurricane Sally Recovery Helpline will now receive calls from business owners in addition to homeowners for questions about post-Hurricane Sally assistance. BRACE is the “Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies.” For more on Escambia County’s hurricane preparation guidance, go to https://myescambia.com/stormcenter#:~:text=Hurricane%20Preparedness%20Week%20is%20May,is%20June%201%20through%20Nov.
National Seashore Open but Johnson Beach Road Closed
All access to Johnson Beach Road at the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore Parking (Johnson Beach) is closed beyond the pavilion area. Sand covers much of the road and heavy equipment will be used to remove it. Without dunes, sand is easily sweep onto the road by strong winds while attempts to build dunes with piles of sand have been unsuccessful thus far.
Sheriff Chip Simmons Brief
Sheriff Simmons was the featured speaker at the September 3, 2021 Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Brief at Hub Stacy’s. He covered a variety of topics including his strong belief in the use of body cams by his officer, Escambia County’s currently successful recruitment efforts, and initiatives like the reopened Perdido Precinct and the need for more “speed trailers.” He also took questions on budget issues, golf carts and ATV’s on Perdido Key pedestrian/bicycle paths and law enforcement presence to assist with beach parking and access issues. The briefing was well attended and no doubt appreciated by those attending.
Perdido Shop Hop
With the holidays approaching, consider participating in the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Perdido Shop Hop.” The event will run from November 27 until December 15, 2021 with various sponsorship levels available. For more information, contact Dee Marie Fisher at 850 380-5542 or go to https://files.constantcontact.com/2e50abe7401/564ba0a4-af79-490e-856b-de32ebdad99b.pdf.
OLF-8 Plan back for Escambia County Review
Escambia County’s plan for OLF-8 development have been approved by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and are now at the Escambia County Planning Board to create an ordinance that will “write the plan into county code, including such specifics as the phasing of the project, allowable uses of the land and development limits.” For more on the issue, see the September 10, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “State OKs Beulah OLF-8 plan, county planning board to move into final stages of design” by Emma Kennedy at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/2021/09/10/florida-oks-beulah-olf-8-design-county-planning-board-draft-zoning/5770397001/.
Navarre Beach a “Best Place to Live”
Navarre Beach came in 34 on the “2021-2022 Best Place to Live in the United States” by Money. The magazine pointed to the several environmental initiatives and beach activities available in the area as well as the reasonable cost of living and growing job opportunities. For more on the issue, see the September 17, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Navarre among best places to live in the US? These experts say so!” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/navarre/2021/09/14/money-names-navarre-florida-one-best-places-to-live-us-2021-2022/8331179002/.
Pensacola Beach Paid Parking
A Pensacola Beach vacant lot owned by Innisfree Hotels will be used as a paid parking lot until the land is developed for other use. Located at 20 Via de Luna Drive, the roughly 100 space lot will be the first full time paid lot on Pensacola Beach and will charge $2.00 for two hours of parking. For more on this issue, see the September 1, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Vacant lot on Pensacola Beach expected to become island’s first paid parking lot” by Emma Kennedy at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/beaches/2021/09/01/vacant-pensacola-beach-lot-turned-into-islands-first-paid-parking-lot/5664135001/.
Florida State Park Junior Ranger Program
“The Florida State Parks Junior Ranger program enables young people to learn, serve, and share Florida’s natural and cultural resources.” Events such as the Junior Ranger Jamboree held at Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee on August 28, 2021 provided those interested with a great opportunity to learn more about the program, meet local recreational and environmental organizations and participate in a variety of fun activities. Those interested can contact local State Park Rangers for more information.
It is difficult to grasp the chaos and extent of devastation in Surfside, Florida where a portion of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed and took scores of residents to their deaths. The toll of those who could not escape continues to rise as crews move toward completion of recovery operations. The tragedy has created concern for the structural integrity of other condominiums and tall buildings and calls for review of building regulations, particularly for structures susceptible to adverse weather, ground conditions and sea level rise. The HOA role in ensuring required maintenance and inspections are completed is also under discussion. For more on the tragedy, see the July 15, 2021 Washington Post article “Search for Florida condo collapse victims nears end as more bodies are identified” by Paulina Firozi, Timothy Bella and María Luisa Paúl at https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/07/15/surfside-condo-collapse-victims-recovered/ and the July 10, 2021 USA Today article, updated on July 11, 2021 “’Condo wars’: Surfside association fighting in Florida was extreme, but it’s a familiar battle for HOAs” by Kevin McCoy at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2021/07/10/surfside-condo-building-collapse-associations-fights-plans/7840468002/.
Another Fatal Accident on Perdido Key Drive
On July 23, 2021, a westbound sedan on Perdido Key Drive with one passenger crossed the centerline and collided with a truck near the entrance to Lost Key Golf and Beach Club. A 20 year old passenger in the sedan was killed and the driver seriously injured; the 37 year old driver of the truck suffered minor injuries. Charges in the collision are reportedly pending. Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions as emergency response personal investigated and cleared the accident scene. For more on the accident, go to the July 24, 2021 NorthEscambia.com article “Escambia Crash Claims One Life; PHP Says Charges Are Pending” at http://www.northescambia.com/2021/07/perdido-key-crash-claims-one-life-fhp-says-charges-are-pending.
Transportation Engineer Brief
At the August 6 Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce “Breakfast Brief” at Hub Stacey’s, Escambia County Transportation Engineer Christine Fanci provided updates on the several road projects in the Perdido Key Area. She noted construction at the Sorrento Road/ Gulf Beach Highway intersection (near Publix) will continue into next year and that construction will begin soon at the Perdido Key Drive/ Canal Road intersection just south of the closed Circle K gas station; access to the intersection will be reduce to one lane while construction is in progress. She also discussed plans for the Perdido Key Drive/ Johnson Beach Road roundabout, a possible crosswalk near the Sea Spray and Eden Condominiums, Perdido Key Multi-Use Path issues and possible speed reductions on Perdido Key Drive. The many attendees appeared to appreciate her comments.
Watch Your Step!
This little fellow was almost stepped on during a recent stroll along the River Road bicycle path. It is probably a baby copperhead since late summer is when the species newborns are most likely to appear. The encounter is a good reminder to be careful when walking near Perdido Key’s marshy areas.
River Road Bridge Repaired
Hurricane Sally lifted the wooden bridge on the River Road pedestrian/ bicycle path six to eight inches above its proper resting place, making it impassable for most cyclists and handicap mobility devices. Located about a half mile from Perdido Key Drive, the bridge was recently repaired by the Escambia County Parks and Recreation Department.
Beach Access Changes in Orange Beach
Orange Beach has moved forward with several initiatives affecting public beach access. In partnership with two co-owners of the Flora-Bama, the city is purchasing over eight acres of beachfront across Perdido Beach Blvd from The Shoppes at Palm Point (where Publix is located) for $13 million. The site had been previously slated for two 30-plus story condominiums but will now have public beach access, green space, and a restaurant/bar complex. Since parking at Gulf State Park beach access locations, including those on the island of Perdido Key, now costs $3 for two hours, $5 for four hours, and $10 for all day parking Orange Beach is creating a system of permits to allow residents to use of the parking areas at no charge. For more on these developments, see the June 26, 2021 Mobile Real-Time News article “Orange Beach buys land for new public beach access, restaurant, bar, green space” by Dennis Pillion at https://www.al.com/news/mobile/2021/06/orange-beach-buys-land-for-new-public-beach-access-restaurant-bar-green-space.html and the April 20, 2021 OBA Community Website article “Parking passes approved for Orange Beach residents at state park accesses in city” by John Mullen at https://www.obawebsite.com/parking-passes-approved-for-orange-beach-residents-at-state-park-accesses-in-the-city.
Gulf State Park Pier Still Under Repair
Gulf State Park Pier where Orange Beach meets Gulf Shores was severely damaged by Hurricane Sally. Access has been restored to much of the pier, but work remains on the most seaward section including the octagon at the end of the pier.
Gulf Breeze and Underground Utilities
Gulf Breeze plans to underground its power lines using $9.7 million from a $12 million Regions Bank loan. The city will use the rest of the loan along with $6 million of general reserve funds for construction of US 98 overpasses and the West the Basin Stormwater Project. The loans will be paid for from ad valorem taxes assigned to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency. For more on the issue, see the August 2, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Gulf Breeze will spend $18 million to put power lines underground, build overpass” by Annie Blanks at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/07/02/gulf-breeze-spend-18-million-bury-power-lines-build-overpasses/7823707002/.
A Terrible Year for Manatees
At least 890 manatees have perished this year due primarily to starvation more than double the five year average of 396. Poor water quality from stormwater runoff leading to algae blooms and loss of sea grass may be responsible, while injuries also come from boat strikes. Authorities are worried the coming winter season will lead to another horrific die-off of these remarkable creatures. Several measures are in progress or being studied to reduce deaths, but remediation is complicated including care for the large number of manatee calves surviving after their mothers died. For more on the issue, see the August 6, 2021 Florida Today article “Wildlife experts: Winter could be even more deadly for an already starving manatee population” by Jim Waymer and Chad Gillis at https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/lagoon/2021/08/06/starving-florida-manatees-face-repeat-winter-collapse/5497037001/.
At the Big Lagoon State Park boat launch, community outreach volunteers have been spreading the word “Go Slow Where Seagrasses Grow Manatees Below” to ensure boaters and jet ski users are aware of the increased number of manatees in the area. The volunteers have been handing out brochures and bags containing polarized manatee logo sunglasses, floatable key chain, manatee magnet and “A Boating and Angling Guide to Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties”; manatee magnets have been given to jet ski users. To report sightings of manatees and become a volunteer in helping their survival, go to https://www.ppbep.org/get-involved/panhandlemanatees.
Escambia County Bicentennial Celebration
State dignitaries and many residents and visitors gathered at Museum Plaza in downtown Pensacola on July 11, 2021 to celebrate the 1821 transition of the Pensacola area from Spanish to American control. Remarks by speakers such as local Florida political leaders State Senator Doug Broxon and State Representative Alex Andrade were followed by a stirring rendition of “America! The Beautiful” in multiple languages by Dr. Leo Day.
How Safe are Your Passwords?
A recent Kiplinger’s article discussing ID theft included a table illustrating the length of time it takes hackers using sophisticated computer programs to crack passwords as a function of the length and complexity of the passwords. For example, a password with 10 characters that has numbers only would be cracked instantaneously; one with 10 lower case letters would take 58 minutes. But if you have 10 characters with a mix of numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols, it would take 5 years to crack; increasing the same combination to 13 characters would take two million years to crack! For more on ID theft, see the May 27, 2021 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance article “Protect Yourself Against New ID-Theft Schemes” by Lisa Gerstner at https://www.kiplinger.com/personal-finance/credit-debt/loans/credit-reports/602854/protect-yourself-against-new-id-theft.
Additional Funds for New Beach Access on Perdido Key
At its July 8, 2021 meeting, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners approved additional funds to create the proposed new beach access location just east of the Crab Trap Restaurant – called Beach Access #4. This follows state environmental regulatory approval of the project. As stated by Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh, “We’re going to have 35 parking spots.” “We’re going to have handicap spots. Importantly, we’re going to protect the habitat.” A lawsuit filed by the adjacent Seafarer Condos Owners Association is still pending. For more on the issue, see the May 6, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Controversial Perdido Key beach access point gets OK from state environmental regulators” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/05/06/perdido-key-beach-access-point-okd-state-environmental-regulators/4973834001/.
Multi-Use Path Construction Continues
Construction continues on the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path on the north side of Perdido Key Drive. Concrete for the path now extends from the west end of Perdido Key State Park near the Eden Condominium and Surf Style store to the Seafarer Condominium. The path is for pedestrians and bicycles and not for motorized transportation. As the path enters use in the months and years ahead, discussions and action to ensure use only by pedestrians and bicycles will be a continuing challenge.
It’s Time to Appreciate the Perdido Key Master Plan!
The 2020 Perdido Key Property Owner Survey showed 43.6% of property owners supported the Perdido Key Master Plan but 46.4% were neutral. This probably means many Perdido Key property owners are unaware of the plan and its merits. As emphasized by Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill at the February 2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting, the Master Plan is one of the ways development is managed on Perdido Key and should be very much appreciated by owners and residents of the island. Many PKA members attended charrettes and are familiar with the process leading to approval of the Master Plan in 2016, so it is probably up to us to ensure the value of the plan is known to others who care about Perdido Key and its future. Information about the plan is available on the PKA website at https://www.perdidokeyassociation.org on the “Master Plan” page with links to supporting documents on the Escambia County webpage.
Blue Angel Performance and Practice Schedules
Flying F-18 Super Hornets for the first time, the Blue Angels returned to the Pensacola area and NAS Pensacola on Sunday March 14, 2021 with a welcome flyover. The team’s 2021 show schedule is available at https://www.blueangels.navy.mil/assets/docs/schedules/show-2021.pdf; the practice schedule at NAS Pensacola is available at https://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/blueangels/.
Bands on the Beach for 2021
The Santa Rosa Island Authority has announced the schedule for 2021 “Bands on Beach” performances at Casino Beach on Pensacola Beach. Performances are given every Tuesday evening from April 6 until October 26. For more on the free concerts, see the March 1, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Bands on the Beach releases full 2021 artist lineup and schedule” by Jake Newby at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/03/01/bands-beach-2021-schedule-musicians-released-pensacola/6868687002/.
World Oceans Day 2021
The June 8 celebration of World Oceans Day 2021 at the Perdido Key Community Center was a considerable success. Organized by the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce, the event hosted many family groups who visited the educational displays and presentations by Florida Fish and Wildlife, Niuhi Dive Charters, Ocean Strike Team, Escambia County Marine Resources, Pensacola and Perdido Bays and Estuaries staff, Alabama Gulf Coast Zookeepers, Clean Horizons, Florida State Parks, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Friends of the Southwest Library and PKA. ECUA’s “Quench Buggy” provided water and information on protecting the aquifer.
The event also featured the Community Center’s just constructed Solar Windmill (see photo). As stated in a June 7, 2021 Escambia County media release:
A PrimoEnergy EnergiPlant solar windmill was installed today at the Perdido Key Community Center, in time for World Ocean Day on June 8. The windmill, equipped with a 1200W wind turbine and four 50W solar panels, will also provide seating and phone charging capabilities. Funds to purchase the windmill were provided by Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill’s District 2 discretionary funds.
The windmill is part of a larger effort to provide amenities along the future Perdido Key Multi-Use Path. When complete, the multi-use path will extend approximately 6.2 miles from the Alabama-Florida state line, eastward through Perdido Key State Park to River Road along the north side of Perdido Key Drive and provide safe access for cyclists and pedestrians.
To access the full County media document titled “Solar Windmill Installed at Perdido Key Community Center,” go to https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2021/06/07/solar-windmill-installed-at-perdido-key-community-center.
2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting
The 2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting was held Saturday, February 27, 2021 at the Eden Condominium – the first Perdido Key Association meeting with both in-person and remote Zoom attendance. The featured speaker was Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill who focused on results from the 2020 Perdido Key Property Owner Survey, including development, traffic, wildlife and environment, and governing concerns. He also fielded questions from attendees, including beachfront access and erosion issues. PKA president Charles Krupnick followed with updates on the PKA budget, past and current Association initiatives and damage to area beach parks from Hurricane Sally. Approximately 35 people participated in the meeting in-person and a similar number attended online. The Eden staff provided superior support, including COVID-19 precautions and assisting with Zoom preparations and presentation.
NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Invasive Cogon Grass
Invasive Cogon Grass has again been spotted on Perdido Key. To repeat a note of concern from 2019: Cogon grass is an invasive species from Southeast Asia. Listed as one of the “Top 10 Worst Weeds in the World,” it is a perennial grass with varying color and “long, fuzzy-white seed heads” that can spread readily and displace native plants. For more on cogon grass, see the University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Science article “Imperata cylindrical” at https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/imperata-cylindrica/.
Photo Credit: UFL/IFAS
Photo Credit: USDA
More Days of 122⁰F
A recent study found that the number of days each year where temperature somewhere on earth has reached 50⁰ C (122⁰ F) has increased from an average of about 14 days between 1980 and 2009 to 26 days between 2010 and 2020. The extreme heat is felt predominantly in the Middle East and Gulf regions, but over time additional areas of the world are being affected. For more on the issue, see the September 13, 2021 BBC article “Climate change: World now sees twice as many days over 50C” by Becky Dale & Nassos Stylianou at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58494641.
Protecting the Environment on Perdido Key
Why has Perdido Key not become overdeveloped? One reason certainly is because the Perdido Key beach mouse was listed as an endangered species in 1985 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1966. Preventing local extinction of the mouse required protecting its habitat with measures like curbing public access to dunes, planting appropriate vegetation, and restriction predators such as domestic cats. Those hoping to build on the island had to meet stringent requirements and pass through numerous administrative hoops and permissions in order for construction to begin – a process that could take years. To improve the process, in 2008-2010 Escambia County worked with federal agencies to create the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that greatly expedited the process while still protecting the Perdido Key beach mouse, sea turtles and piping plovers (a small shorebird). According to Tim Day, Escambia County natural resource manager: “The endangered species issues have done a good job helping to maintain the vision of Perdido Key as a village which isn’t overbuilt or a condo canyon.” “The island’s habitat has to be as nice as the condo you’ve just constructed.” All of us who appreciate the modest development and wonderful wildlife on our island should strongly support efforts to retain its natural environment and beauty. For more on the Perdido Key beach mouse and the environment, see the December 13, 2017 US Fish and Wildlife Service document “The Mouse that Roared: On a Florida beach, builders and conservationists join forces to save an endangered species” by Dan Chapman at https://www.fws.gov/southeast/articles/the-mouse-that-roared/, also available on the Archive page of the PKA website; the film “Little Beach Mouse from the South” at https://www.intonaturefilms.org/project/little-beach-mouse-from-the-south/; and the Habitat Conservation Plan at https://myescambia.com/docs/default-source/sharepoint-natural-resources-management/perdido-key-habitat-conservation-plan/ada-docs/ada_final-perdido-key-hcp-23nov11.pdf?sfvrsn=db78186d_4.
Photo Credit: USFWS
Who knew there were prehistoric looking fish in Escambia County waters, but there are! For an update on the strange, wonderful but threatened sturgeon, see the UF/IFAS Blog article “Sturgeon in the Florida Panhandle” by Rick O-Connor at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2021/07/09/sturgeon-in-the-florida-panhandle/.
Shorebird Nesting Concerns on Perdido Key Beaches
Shorebird nesting on Perdido Key is endangered because many boardwalk dune crossovers were destroyed by Hurricane Sally in September 2020. According to Caroline Stahala, the Western Panhandle shorebird program manager at the Audubon Society: “The one thing about these birds – seabirds or shorebirds – is that they lay their eggs right on the sand and they’re camouflaged, so you aren’t going to see these eggs but you’ll step on them.” She urges beach visitors to “take notice of signage, walk only in designated areas and be cognizant of visible activity such as mating behavior that mean there could be nest and eggs around.” For more on seabird nesting, see the March 2, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Shorebirds need dunes to nest, but beachgoers are walking over them due to Sally damage” by Emma Kennedy at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/03/02/perdido-key-shorebird-nests-trampled-due-hurricane-sally-damage/6824159002/.
Sea Turtle Nesting
Tropical Storm Claudette damaged sea turtle nests in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, but on the bright side the Escambia County Sea Turtle Patrol reported the first loggerhead sea turtle nest on County land in the 2021 season. To celebrate Clean Beaches Week which runs July 1-7, the County also provides a reminder that keeping “beaches free of debris and obstacles are vital for the success of all our coastal wildlife, including sea turtles.” Unfortunately all have not been following this advice: a sea turtle nest on Perdido Key was recently disturbed by young adults, resulting in some arrests. For more on sea turtle nesting, see the June 23, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Tropical Storm Claudette erodes loggerhead sea turtle nests in Escambia, Santa Rosa” by Jake Newby at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/06/23/tropical-storm-claudette-erodes-sea-turtle-nests-escambia-santa-rosa/5304936001/ and the June 29, 2021 Escambia County news article “First Sea Turtle Nest Recorded on Perdido Key in Time for Clean Beaches Week” at https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2021/06/29/first-sea-turtle-nest-recorded-on-perdido-key-in-time-for-clean-beaches-week.
Endangered Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
The Kemp’s Ridley is one of four species of sea turtles found in the Perdido Key area, the others being loggerhead, leatherback, and green sea turtles. They weigh less than 100 pounds and are no more than two feet in length. Only a few thousand remain and face threats from habitat loss and oil spills, in addition to bycatch losses from commercial and recreational fishing. Of the 609 sea turtles found dead after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, 481 were Kemp’s Ridleys. Following turtle friendly lighting guidance regulations and nesting precautions will help all sea turtles survive. Information for this entry was drawn from the e-mail “The world’s most endangered sea turtle” by Nicholas Mailos, Senior Director, Trash Free Seas; for more on local sea turtle issues, go to Escambia County’s Natural Resources Management page “Sea Turtles on the Beach” at https://myescambia.com/our-services/natural-resources-management/marine-resources/sea-turtles/sea-turtles-on-the-beach.
Photo By: Kate Sampson NOAA Fisheries
Plastic Waste in the Oceans
According to a recent article from the BBC, a large majority of plastic waste in the oceans (80%) comes from 1,000 of the world’s rivers. For more on this issue, go to https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-56937300.
Wildflowers on River Road!
A gorgeous display of wildflowers is currently blooming at the bend of River Road on Lost Key property. They are believed to be “large flower rosegentian.”
Tuna Recovering but Sharks in Danger
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) notes that stocks of four of ten tuna species are recovering but the remaining ones are still in decline. According to the organization’s “Red List of Threatened Species,” almost four in ten species of shark and rays face extinction “due to pressures from fishing for meat and fins, climate change and pollution.” According to Dr. Andy Cornish, “We are losing this ancient group of creatures – starting to lose it species by species right here, right now – we desperately need urgent action.” For more on this issue, see the September 7, 2021 BBC article “Tuna bounce back, but sharks in ‘desperate’ decline” by Helen Briggs at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58441142.
Photo By: NOAA Fisheries photo
There are at least 18 species of eel in the waters of the Florida Panhandle, some offshore and others in estuaries. According to Escambia Sea Grant Representative Rick O’Connor, most are 2-3 feet long though the Banded Shrimp Eel can reach 6 feet. None are venomous but most have sharp teeth. The Anquilla eel (also called the American or European eel) has been used as food, but probably the most common encounter with eels on Perdido Key is as bait. For more on eels, see the UF/IFAS September 2, 2021 article “Eels of the Florida Panhandle” by Rick O’Connor at https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/nat/2021/09/02/eels-of-the-florida-panhandle/.
Photo By: USDA Photo