2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting
The Perdido Key Association Board of Directors has scheduled the 2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting for Saturday, February 27, 2021 from 10 AM until Noon at the Eden Condominium. The Eden is equipping its Conference Rooms for in-person attendance but also so others can watch the meeting remotely on Zoom. More information on the meeting itinerary and procedures will follow.
Hurricane Zeta Grazes Perdido Key
Still recovering from the damage done by Hurricane Sally, Perdido Key and nearby area residents could breathe a sigh of relief as Hurricane Zeta zoomed by on October 28-29 with significant winds and surf, but not much rain. It hit the Louisiana coast with over 100 MPH winds, but the highest recorded locally were in the 50-55 MPH range. More than 50,000 people lost power from Zeta in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties though most had it back within a short time. The effects were not limited to the Gulf Coast as the storm cause six deaths and power loss for millions across a broad swath of the eastern United States. For more on Hurricane Zeta, see the October 29, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Zeta: 50,000 people lost power in Escambia, Santa Rosa; Panhandle spared serious damage” by Annie Banks at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/29/hurricane-zeta-7-000-people-without-power-escambia-county-thursday/6067397002/ and the October 29, 2020 USA Today article “6 dead, millions powerless as Zeta roars across Southern, Eastern US” by Doyle Rice at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/10/29/zeta-damage-deaths-power-outages-south/6072425002/.
Consider Becoming a PKA Director!
The Perdido Key Association’s 2021 election cycle is approaching and the PKA Board will be creating a Nominating Committee shortly to solicit Director candidates. After candidates are determined, ballots will be sent to PKA members approximately 30 days prior to the PKA Annual Membership Meeting in late- February, 2021 when voting will take place. If you are interested in becoming a PKA Director candidate, please contact any current PKA Director. New faces on the Board would be most welcome!
Hurricane Sally Strikes Severe Blow to Perdido Key
It was supposed to be a Category 1 storm with lots of rain, but Hurricane Sally turned into a dangerous and multimillion dollar disaster for Perdido Key and its neighbors. The storm pummeled the area beginning on Tuesday September 15 and did not end until late afternoon on Wednesday September 16. Those who rode it out will remember its howling winds and brutal rainfall and for those who lost their roofs and were otherwise in danger, the memories are likely indelible. Almost every business and residence on Perdido Key was surely affected by the storm as the debris lining Perdido Key Drive, River Road, and other island streets attests; some homes were totally destroyed. Driving through Escambia County one quickly recognizes that Perdido Key was not alone in having significant damage. The loss of life was particularly tragic.
Looking forward, roads were re-opened as downed trees and other debris were quickly pushed aside; many received water and power relatively soon following the storm and the great number of power company vehicles in the County attested to the enormous efforts made at restoration. Refuse collection from the storm has been equally impressive and continues as shown by the enormous mound of mulch in the field across from the Naval Hospital on Rt. 98 from debris brought by a steady stream of two-trailer trucks. We thank our first responders, utilities and all supporting personnel for their concern and work to keep Perdido Key and all Escambia County residents safe and their help in moving as quickly as possible back to some sort of normalcy. Safe passage to all.
Getting Help after Sally
Federal assistance was available almost immediately to local governments. After a flurry of action by local government leaders and thousands of submitted photos and testimony about the effects of Hurricane Sally, on October 2, 2020 Escambia County announced that FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance would also be available. News releases relevant to assistance can be found at the following Escambia County web address: https://myescambia.com/news.
Aid can be requested in three ways:
- Call 1-800-621-3362 (TTY# 1-800-462-7585)
- Register online at disasterassistance.gov
- Download the FEMA app on your mobile device and register using the app
For more on aid, see the October 2, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “FEMA individual assistance approved for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay” by Kevin Robinson at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/02/fema-individual-assistance-approved-hurricane-sally-escambia-santa-rosa-okaloosa-walton-bay/5895110002/
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis activated the “small business emergency loan program to provide short-term, interest free loans to businesses that were hurt by Hurricane Sally.” For additional information on post-Sally assistance issues, see the September 23, 2020 article “Escambia County officials ask for photos of Hurricane Sally damage to unlock FEMA help” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/09/23/escambia-county-asks-photos-hurricane-sally-damage-unlock-fema-help/3507220001/ and the
September 24, 2020 article “Hurricane Sally a ‘major disaster’ but no individual assistance coming without public’s help” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/09/24/trump-declares-disaster-in-florida-escambia-county-from-hurricane-sally/3515463001/, both by Jim Little in the Pensacola News Journal.
Central America was devastated by two major hurricanes in November 2020, Category 4 Hurricane Eta and Category 5 Hurricane Iota. This was a unique and tragic event that has led to speculation on whether late powerful storms will be a new norm. As with Eta and Iota powerful, storms that form late in the year are likely to be in the Caribbean because the water is very warm and atmospheric conditions may be favorable. Other items being studies following this active hurricane season are rapid intensification of recent storms and their slow progress, leading to enormous rainfall totals. For more on late-season storms, see the November 21, 2020 Palm Beach Post article “Scary trend: Major hurricanes in October and November – why is it happening” by Kimberly Miller at https://www.newschief.com/story/weather/hurricane/2020/11/21/hurricane-iota-extraordinary-horror-horrible-year/6354794002/.
Johnson Beach Breaches and Oil Contamination
Johnson Beach (the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore) was particularly affected by Hurricane Sally. Closed after the storm, the park reopened on Saturday, October 3, 2020 but only at the main parking lot and pavilion location. Sally tore three breaches in the remote eastern portion of the park south of Robertson Island leaving three islands in its wake. According to Park Superintendent Dan Brown, similar breaches have happened before because of the narrowness and low level of the park in that area. Because Pensacola Pass traps much of the east-west flow of sand along the Northwest Florida Coast, Superintendent Brown does not expect natural process to heal the breaches. Sally also destroyed the Discovery Trail not far from the park entrance. For more on the park see the September 22, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “A Florida Island has turned into multiple islands after Hurricane Sally slices through” by Kevin Robinson at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/09/22/hurricane-sally-forms-three-breaches-floridas-east-perdido-key/5863650002/ and the October 2, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Some Gulf Islands National Seashore areas begin reopening on Saturday” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/02/gulf-islands-national-seashore-areas-begin-reopening-saturday/3596193001/.
Hurricane Sally was also likely responsible for a half mile of oil contaminated beaches on Johnson Beach. Originally reported as five miles of contamination, the source of oil has not been determined but according to cleanup personnel appeared to be “weathered and old oil.” 3,750 pounds of the oil-contaminated sand was removed from the beach in a US Coast Guard-led effort. For more on this issue, see the September 29, 2020 WEAR report “More oil washes up along 5 miles of Johnson Beach on Perdido Key” by Rebekah Castor at https://weartv.com/news/local/more-oil-washes-up-along-5-miles-of-johnson-beach-on-perdido-key, October 9, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Oil only washed up on half-mile stretch of Johnson Beach on Perdido Key” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/09/oil-johnson-beach-only-washed-up-half-mile-area-u-s-coast-guard/5939066002/, and the October 16, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “3,750 pounds of oil-contaminated sand removed from Johnson Beach” by Jim Little available at https://www.msn.com/EN-US/news/us/3-750-pounds-of-sand-and-oil-removed-from-johnson-beach-after-hurricane-sally/ar-BB1a6ZHn?ocid=FinanceShimLayer.
- Snakes may be under those piles of debris along the roads and are being found on Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach; the Sea Grant Barrier Island Cottonmouth Survey in progress until Halloween has found 16 snakes of which 9 were cottonmouths; 8 addition cottonmouths have been reported since Hurricane Sally of which 7 were juveniles – cottonmouths give birth in the fall (Source: Escambia County Sea Grant Representative Rick O’Connor)
- In addition to snakes, other wildlife on Perdido Key and surrounding areas has been displaced by the storm including deer and at least one large snapping turtle trapped in a condominium parking lot
- Rusty nails are everywhere – be extra careful on those morning walks!
- Waterways may not be safe for boating because of debris
- Bacteria may be in local waters and oil in coastal waters – for Escambia County Food Safety Guidelines go to https://www.myescambia.com/our-services/natural-resources-management/marine-resources/seafood-safety
Some information drawn from Sea Grant Notes September 25, 2020 at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/09/25/sea-grant-notes-sep-25-2020/ and October 16, 2020 at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/10/16/sea-grant-notes-oct-16-2020/
COVID 19 is extremely infectious so considerable direction has been given on how to impede its spread. The following guidance is from the Escambia County web location on COVID 19: “stay home when you are sick; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then discard in trash; avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water is not available; and, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.” Some recent commentary gives more consideration to wearing facemasks. Guidance on testing for COVID 19 in Escambia County can be obtained at myescambia.com.
The following websites provide information about COVID 19 and its repercussions:
US Federal Government at usa.gov/coronavirus
State of Florida updates at floridahealth.gov
Escambia County at myescambia.com
Visit Pensacola updates at visitpensacola.com
Mullet Wrapper at mulletwrapper.net
Pensacola News Journal “COVID 19 Watch” for subscribers
Florida Sea Grant compilation of disaster assistance programs at flseagrant.org.
Gulf Islands National Seashore Damage
Gulf Islands National Seashore, including its Perdido Key Area, suffered $4.5 million in damage from Hurricane Sally and will not be getting any extra funding to make repairs. Park Superintendent Dan Brown stated “We have this very, very long list of storm recovery projects and we’re having to prioritize them.” $2 million will be required for road repairs and $1.2 million for repair of the ferry pier. While the main parking area at Perdido Key, Naval Live Oaks, and the Okaloosa portion of the park are open, the Ft. Pickens area and campgrounds remain closed – primarily because of road damage. For more on National Seashore recovery from Sally, see the November 21, 2020 Pensacola News Journal Article “Gulf Islands estimates $4.5 million in damage from Sally in Florida” by Madison Arnold at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/11/20/gulf-islands-estimates-4-5-million-damage-sally-florida/3777695001/.
Local State Park Update after Sally
Perdido Key State Park is closed until further notice because its infrastructure was severely damaged by Hurricane Sally and must be rebuilt. The photo shows volunteers with State Park Ranger Emily Price helping remove debris from the West Use Area of the Park.
Bayou Tarkiln State Park trails are open on the west side of Bauer Road.
Big Lagoon State Park campgrounds and boat launch are open, but pavilions and trails remain closed. Volunteers organized by the Friends of Pensacola State Parks (such as Jim and Jane Campbell in the photo) continue to gather debris left by Sally while heavy equipment has been removing heavier items.
Cleanups of Big Lagoon State Park are scheduled for every Wednesday beginning at 9 AM.
Alabama’s Gulf State Park Upgrade and Fort Morgan Boat Ramp Repairs
The Lake Shelby area of Gulf State Park is closed for a number of upgrades including to playgrounds, dog parks, restrooms, and parking areas. Other work will improve parking at the fishing pier and add amenities for volunteers and events. Elsewhere in Baldwin County, the public boat ramps at the Fort Morgan basin and near Mile 7 on Fort Morgan Road were damaged by Hurricane’s Sally and Zeta and will remain closed until January 2021. Drawn from the November 4-8, 2020 Mullet Wrapper articles “Enlargement project begins around Lake Shelby at Gulf State Park” and “Two Fort Morgan public boat ramps will remain closed ‘til January.”
Florida Tourism and Visit Pensacola
Tourist dollars help fund the Florida state budget and support up to 1.5 million jobs, but third quarter tourism in Florida was almost 32% below the same period last year – not surprising given the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit Florida officials are nonetheless optimistic because of marketing initiatives and improvement in tourism from earlier in 2020. According to Visit Pensacola, the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, and Perdido Key, visitors typically spend about $938 million a year and support 19,000 jobs in the Pensacola area. Visit Pensacola has endured a budget reduction of 26% with more cuts likely, but new president and CEO Darien Schaefer remains optimistic and is looking forward to “investing in the people working in hospitality, telling more locals about what Visit Pensacola does and how it’s spending tax money and getting ‘creative’ with the budget it does have.”
On a bright note, the Perdido Key Visitors Center has reopened and is maintaining normal hours of operation. For more on these issues, go to the November 20, 2020 article “Florida’s tourism sees nearly 32% drop in visitors during Q3 as business restrictions lift” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/11/20/floridas-tourism-sees-nearly-32-drop-visitors-during-q-3/6348569002/ and the November 10, 2020 article “’This year will forever have an asterisk on it’: Visit Pensacola talks 2020, ideas for recovery” by Madison Arnold at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/2020/11/10/visit-pensacola-reflects-2020-tourism-difficulties-2021-recovery/6225327002/, both in the Pensacola News Journal.
Natural Gas on Perdido Key
Since 2015 natural gas lines have been installed on Perdido Key by Pensacola Energy, though the service does not go to all streets. To determine if gas service is available for a particular location, contact the Pensacola Energy Marketing Desk at 850 436-5050.
More Red Snapper Fishing
Florida’s red snapper season will be open in Florida a while longer for recreational anglers and state for-hire operations, including during the Thanksgiving weekend of November 27, 28, and 29, 2020. For more information see the November 18, 2020 Chipley Bugle article “Additional fall recreational snapper season dates” at https://chipleybugle.com/additional-fall-recreational-snapper-season-dates/. Alabama’s red snapper season was also extended to weekends beginning October 17, 2020. For more information, go to Outdoor Alabama October 13, 2020 press release “Alabama Announces Weekend Fishing for Private Anglers” at https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0?ik=8961032f5a&view=pt&search=all&permthid=thread-f%3A1680469107302309173&simpl=msg-f%3A1680469107302309173.
New Perdido Key Beach Access Moves Ahead
At its July 22, 2020 meeting, the Escambia County Board of Adjustment (BOA) denied the Seafarer Condominium appeal of the Development Order for construction of a new beach access location at 16477 Perdido Key Drive, just east of the Crab Trap Restaurant. The County has conducted initial site work to remove debris from the former condominium site and asphalt parking area. Prior to construction of a beach access location, the County needs additional approvals from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Perdido Key Habitat Conservation Plan and to develop a management plan. There is also an appeal filed with the Circuit Court on approval of conditional use of the site and the Seafarer has the option to appeal the recent BOA denial with the Circuit Court.
Ground Broken for Controversial Dollar General on Gulf Beach Hwy
Land is being cleared for construction of a Dollar General on Gulf Beach Highway. The store will be in an area of mostly single family homes and has been contentious for many months, leading to various Escambia County administrative decisions and some legal action. At its March 5, 2020 meeting, however, Escambia County Commissioners voted to settle with developer Teramore Development LLC and allow the construction to take place in exchange for “1.6 acres of green space, elevated design standards and a promise to the county not to pursue the payment of attorney’s fees,” although further administrative action and other obstacles could remain. For more on the issue, see the January 23, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Judge vacates contempt ruling for Escambia County in Dollar General case” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/01/23/judge-ruling-vacatedescambia-county-contempt-dollar-general-case/4552175002/ and the March 6, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Controversial Dollar General Plan moving forward on Gulf Beach Highway after Settlement” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/03/06/escambia-county-accepts-settlement-proposed-gulf-beach-highway-dollar-general/4964724002/, both by Madison Arnold.
Nature Focused Home Activities
Escambia County Sea Grant Representative Rick O’Connor has made home activities and lessons available on a variety of nature topics, along with a continuing theme of monarch butterfly development. Here are lessons on “Water,” “Backyard Habitat,” “Invasive Species,” and “Local Wildlife:
Monarch Butterfly Images: Maryland Dept of Natural Rsources cite Eric Heupel Flickr and Kerry Wixted / Adult bluebird on a nest: Molly O’Connor / Bluebird box / bluebird nest: L. Lazear
Inputs to OLF-8
DPZ, the design firm that helped with the Perdido Key Master Plan, has been selected for the planning process for OLF-8, i.e., the 640 acre former Navy Outlying Field 8 adjacent to the Navy Federal Credit Union complex in the Beulah area of western Escambia County. Because of concerns for COVID-19, DPZ’s “charrette” process has been replaced with a request for public input to a new website at colab.dpz.com/olf8 and Facebook page at facebook.com/myolf8/. For more on the issue, see the Pensacola News Journal July 24, 2020 article “You can share input on the fate of OLF-8” by Madison Arnold at pnj.com.
Blue Angels Legacy Hornet Final Flyover
On a brilliant November 4, 2020 afternoon along the Perdido Key shore and elsewhere in the region, the Navy’s Blue Angels did their final flyover in “legacy” F-18 Hornets. The team is shifting to the newer F-18 Super Hornets, a shift already made by the rest of the US Navy.
Johnson Beach Road Roundabout to Designers
Escambia County has begun the design process for construction of a roundabout at the Perdido Key Drive/Johnson Beach Road intersection. This will take about nine months followed by construction expected after the 2021 summer vacation season. Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill noted: “So the traffic circle has the added benefit of slowing down traffic and sort of bookmarking the commercial core of Perdido Key so that people slow down, take it a little safer through there. Nobody wants to have their vacation end with a trip to the hospital.” For more on the issue, see the November 4, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Roundabout selected as Perdido Key intersection solution, now under design process” by Madison Arnold at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/11/04/roundabout-selected-perdido-key-intersection-solution-under-design-process/6163188002/.
High Lumber Costs and Probably Electric Power too!
Area residents recovering from Hurricane Sally are facing high lumber costs for repairs. According to a Pensacola News Journal article, prices are currently about $607 per thousand board feet – up from $260 in April 2020. Hurricane Michael in 2018 destroyed some of the area’s lumber while COVID 19 sent many millworkers home. For more on building material costs, see the September 27, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Hurricane Sally victims face near record prices for building materials in COVID fallout” by Madison Arnold at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/09/27/pensacola-high-demand-high-prices-building-materials-after-hurricane-sally-and-covid/3550155001/.
Gulf Power costs for restoring power after Hurricane Sally is estimated at $200 million, which will likely be recouped from consumers. For more on electric power costs, see the October 21, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Hurricane Sally estimated to have cost Gulf Power $200 million to restore electricity” by Jim Saunders at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/21/hurricane-sally-estimated-have-cost-gulf-power-200-million-restore-electricity/3717578001/.
World Oceans Day 2020
World Oceans Day is celebrated on June 8 every year. As coordinated worldwide by The Ocean Project, “World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future.” A healthy ocean is critical to our survival, providing most of the oxygen we breath, helping to feed us, regulating our climate, cleaning the water we drink, providing a “pharmacopoeia of medicines,” and limitless inspiration! (Drawn from sevenseasmedia.org) This year’s World Oceans Day coincides with the United Nations Ocean Conference and Sustainable Development Goal SDG #14 – Life Under Water being held in Lisbon from June 2-6, 2020. The conference examined aspirations such as reducing marine pollution and ocean acidification and promoting sustainable fishing. (For more on the conference, go to seasave.org). World Oceans Day 2020 correspondingly has the goal of calling “on world leaders to protect 30% of our blue planet by 2030. This critical need is called 30×30. By safeguarding at least 30% of our ocean through a network of highly protected areas we can help ensure a healthy home for all!” (From The Ocean Project website at worldoceansday.org).
Perdido Key World Oceans Day Event – The Perdido Key Association (PKA), Friends of Pensacola State Parks and Pensacola area State Parks have sponsored World Oceans Day events at Perdido Key State Park since 2017, but for 2020 held it online because of the COVID-19 pandemic – as was done at other World Oceans Day celebrations worldwide. Ocean related topics were posted on organization websites from June 2, 2020 through June 8, 2020 to help spread the word about our wonderful but threatened oceans.
PKA Annual Membership Meeting
The Perdido Key Association held its Annual Membership Meeting on February 29, 2020 at the Eden Condominium. Guest speaker Dr. Alissa Deming, the Staff Veterinarian with the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network based on Dauphin Island, provided a very informed and interesting presentation on the health of the Gulf Coast bottlenose dolphin population. She pointed out that the current dolphin Unusual Mortality Event could be related to increased fresh water in local areas from the past year’s weather events. She also noted that the health of dolphins, as the region’s top oceanic predator, can be a good indicator of the overall health of the ecosystem they inhabit. PKA president Charles Krupnick followed with updates of a number of Perdido Key issues, such as progress on the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path and Perdido Key Master Plan. He also covered PKA initiatives and particularly the soon-to-be distributed 2020 Perdido Key Property Owner Survey – noting the cost challenges of the project. Approximately 40 people attended the meeting and seemed to appreciate the information provided.
NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Tons of Microplastics in Atlantic Ocean
A new study points to much larger quantities of microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean than previous estimates. Microplastics are any plastic particles less than 5mm and may come from specific use in clothing, cosmetics or industry or from the breakdown of larger plastic items, such as packaging material. The UK National Oceanographic Centre study estimates 12-21 million tons of microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean, “enough to fully load almost 1,000 container ships;” some measurements were as high as “7,000 particles per cubic meter of seawater.” As an interesting aside, according to Susannah Bleakley who helps coordinate UK beach cleanups: “We now find more disposable masks than plastic bags.” For more on the issue, see the August 18, 2020 BBC.com article “Microplastic in Atlantic Ocean ‘could weigh 21 million tones’” by Victoria Gill at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53786555.
More Manatees but a Tough Year for Sea Turtles
Despite the advancing cooler seasons, manatees continue to be sighted in the area with a total of 64 sightings in 2020. For more on the manatee see the October 30, 2020 “Sea Grant Notes” at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/10/30/sea-grant-notes-oct-30-2020/ and the November 7, 2020 Ocean Conservancy Ocean Current blog entry “9 Reasons You Can’t Help but Love Manatee” by Katie Hogge at https://oceanconservancy.org/blog/2017/11/07/9-reasons-cant-help-love-manatees/.
But Escambia County sea turtles had a “dismal season” where, according to Escambia County’s marine resources manager Robert Turpin, only 1 of 28 sea turtle nests in the County could be deemed a success. Santa Rosa County had better luck with five of eight nests hatch at Navarre Beach. In addition, four juvenile green sea turtles were recently released to the Gulf after being rehabilitated at the Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center. For more on sea turtles, go to the October 1, 2020 Pensacola News Journal article “Sea turtles laid 28 nests in Escambia County. Only one full nest survived” by Colin Warren-Hicks at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/10/01/escambia-county-had-28-sea-turtle-nests-2020-one-nest-survived/3587454001/ and the October 28, 2020 Northwest Florida Daily News article “Sea turtles rehabilitated by Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center released at Topsail Hill” by Devon Ravine at https://www.nwfdailynews.com/story/news/2020/10/28/gulfarium-releases-four-rehabilitated-sea-turtles-into-gulf-tuesday/3747124001/.
Good and Bad Plants
PKA Key Notes has frequently mentioned the threat of beach vitex to Perdido Key and surrounding regions. The invasive species was recently listed as a Florida “noxious weed” which, according to a 2016 Fact Sheet by the Weed Science Society of America, means it can be “injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property.” For more on beach vitex see the October 30, 2020 “Sea Grant Notes” at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/10/30/sea-grant-notes-oct-30-2020/.
But some plants are good! A recent UF/IFAS article by Carrie Stevenson lauds the merits of muhly grass as an “extremely versatile plant in the wild and in a home landscape.” It is a local plant and grows in 2-3 foot clumps with “pinkish purple” blossoms. Muhly grass is both flood and drought resistant and can provide “nesting material and shelter for birds and small animals.” For more, go to the article “Weekly ‘What is it’: Muhly grass” at http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/10/28/weekly-what-is-it-muhly-grass/.
An 18.19” lionfish was speared by a Destin diver, the largest ever caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic record is 18.78” caught in the Florida Keys. Elsewhere, small lionfish have again been identified near the Ft. Pickens jetty, indicating their likely penetration into area inland estuaries. For more on these issues, see the November 06, 2020 and November 13, 2020 Sea Grant Notes at
What in the World is a Hammerhead Flatworm?
Most of us hardly ever see an earthworm here on Perdido Key, but they are certainly around the Pensacola area and unfortunately have to contend with an invasive species from Southeast Asia, the “hammerhead flatworm.” The unwelcome arrival to Northwest Florida resembles a hammerhead shark with its wide and flattened head. If found, they should be destroyed – but do not chop them into pieces because, like other worms, the pieces can regenerate into more hammerhead flatworms! For more on the issue, see the UF/IFAS blog “Weekly What is it?”: Hammerhead Flatworm” by Carrie Stevenson at https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/11/16/weekly-what-is-it-hammerhead-flatworm/ posted on November 16, 2020.
Photo By: Les Harrison UF/IFAS Extension
Sharks around Pensacola
How many shark attacks have there been in the vicinity of Pensacola Beach since Tristán de Luna y Arellano landed in the region in 1559? Seven! During the same period, all of Florida had a total of 851 reported attacks – not very many when you consider the much great losses from all sorts of other accidents. For more information on sharks in our area, see the November 13, 2020 UF/IFAS blog “Fish of the Florida Panhandle – Sharks” by Rick O’Connor at https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2020/11/13/fish-of-the-florida-panhandle-sharks/.
Photo By: NOAA Photo