Marine Debris Education in New Orleans

child looking at marine debris exhibit

A young visitor notes the difference between plastic debris that floats and plastic debris that sinks at the Louisiana Sea Grant table in the “Kids Area” at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. For the second year in a row, LSG’s education department hosted an exhibit at the annual celebration of music and culture held at the Fair Grounds. With the help of LSG staff and volunteers, children and their adult chaperones learned about the prevalence of plastics in the ocean, played a game to guess how long it takes for different types of debris to break down in the marine environment, and recycled Mardi Gras beads and trash into works of art. Photo by Darcy Wilkins

What are fish descending devices?

the roklees is one kind of fish descending device

Betty Staugler of Florida Sea Grant field tests the RokLees fish descender, a tool developed in California. The fish is lowered and then released by a sharp tug on the line.

Experienced deep-sea anglers are all too familiar with the challenge of releasing snapper, grouper and other reef species caught in deep water. It’s not an issue unique to the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, it is fair to say it happens worldwide.

The problem is barotrauma, a condition caused by the rapid change in atmospheric pressure when the fish is reeled too quickly to the surface. Gases in the fish’s swim bladder, an organ used to control their buoyancy in the water column, expand and rupture the bladder, escaping into the fish’s body cavity.

Recent research on rock fish on California’s West Coast has shown that many species of these deep-dwelling fish can survive if they are quickly returned to the bottom. A number of ingenious anglers have developed a variety of devices that can be used to accomplish this with minimum injury to the fish.

Some of these devices have just come on the market in the past six to nine months, and Florida Sea Grant extension agents are now conducting field trials of various descending tools on Gulf species to develop expertise in their use. You can read more about this new project by visiting The Marine Scene Plus!

Gulf Regional Extension Meeting

Group discussionNational Sea Grant Law Center and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program Director Stephanie Otts, second from right, takes part in a group discussion about takings law during the regional extension meeting, which was held July 18-19 in Biloxi, Miss. This meeting was the first regional extension meeting since 2007.

Zeke’s Landing Marina pioneers fish recycling program

Zeke’s Landing Marina, the first Clean Marina in Alabama, and Protein Products, Inc., a leader in servicing premier pet food companies, have created a way to keep fish carcasses from being taken to landfills.

Unloading fish carcasses at the new fish recycling site at Zeke’s Landing Marina, Capt. Mike Graves places fish in a refrigerated trailer June 29, 2012, to eliminate odor and keep the fish fresh for Protein Products, Inc. In one week, Zeke’s recycling site keeps about 60,000 pounds of fish carcasses out of landfills and the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy MS-AL Sea Grant.

A newly launched fish recycling program, sponsored in part by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, is repurposing fish parts that are left behind after charter boat crews clean their customers’ catch. The marina, located in Orange Beach, Ala., is working with PPI to turn the fish waste into pet food.

“Traditionally, the fish carcasses have gone inside two garbage bags and then gone in a daily dump trash receptacle,” said Tom Steber, general manager of Zeke’s Landing Marina. “Now, we place the carcasses into a refrigerated trailer. When it’s almost full, arrangements are made for the trailer to be picked up at night. It’s carried off along with the smell.”

The refrigerated trailer is lined with large bins, also known as totes, that each hold anywhere from 2,400 to 3,000 pounds of fish carcasses. Read more about this post at Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.

Modified gear could increase shrimp catch by 10 percent, limit bycatch

A small portion of Texas’ commercial shrimping fleet will begin trawling state and federal waters 30 minutes after sunset on Sunday with modified gear that could increase their catch by as much as 10 percent while limiting the amount of unwanted species caught to federally acceptable levels.

turtle excluder device

Texas Sea Grant College Program Fisheries Specialist Gary Graham (foreground) measures the angle of a turtle excluder device in a shrimp net aboard a boat in Brownsville to confirm it complies with federal regulations. Tony Reisinger photo.

For an industry that frequently operates on a razor thin margin between profitability and going out of business, 10 percent represents a very significant economic impact, says Gary Graham, Fisheries Specialist with the Texas Sea Grant College Program, who was instrumental in developing and testing the equipment.

“If you’re talking about a boat that grosses $300,000 to $400,000 per year, then they are looking at grossing $30,000 to $40,000 more,” Graham said. “That’s a huge amount to them.”

Read more about this topic at Texas Sea Grant.

Register now for Bays and Bayous Symposium

Registration is open for the 2012 Mississippi-Alabama Bays and Bayous Symposium. The event will be held Nov. 14-15 in Biloxi, Miss., at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.

The theme for the two-day coastal symposium is “Finding a common currency: Natural resource economics, ecology and culture.” The event will include networking opportunities, guest speakers and more than 100 oral and poster presentations with question-and-answer sessions. Presentation topics include climate and hazard resilience, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill science, habitat management and restoration, living estuarine resources, and water quality and quantity. Presentations will focus on science-based research and education and outreach efforts associated with research projects.

The symposium is open to graduate students, resource managers, scientists, educators, industry and community leaders, elected officials and the general public.

The Bays and Bayous Symposium is sponsored by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, NOAA Coastal Services Center, University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Alabama State Port Authority, Ocean Conservancy and Volkert and Associates, Inc.

The registration fee will be $50 for all attendees. To register for the symposium, visit

Twilley Named Louisiana Sea Grant Director

Robert Twilley is new Louisiana Sea Grant directorDr. Robert Twilley is the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program’s new executive director. He begins his duties in mid-August.

Twilley comes to Sea Grant from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he served as vice president for research over the past two years. He previously served as associate vice chancellor for research and economic development at Louisiana State University, where he also held the rank of professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences.

“It’s an honor to lead such a distinguished program,” said Twilley. “Louisiana Sea Grant has accomplished some extraordinary things, from responding to coastal stakeholder needs following devastating hurricanes and the recent oil spill in the Gulf to sponsoring innovative research and nurturing new scholars across the state. This truly is an exciting opportunity for me to continue my passion to promote solutions to living along coastal Louisiana.”

Read more about this topic at Louisiana Sea Grant.

Dive into Florida’s scalloping season

thumbnail of taylor county scalloping mapScallopers, rejoice! Just in time for the start of Florida’s 2012 scalloping season, Florida Sea Grant has published the boat ramp and marina locator map, “Recreational Harvesting of the Florida Bay Scallop: Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach Areas.”

Inside, viewers will find a full-color map identifying access routes to the boat ramps and marinas in southern Taylor County near Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach.

The recreational bay scallop harvest season begins July 1 and ends Sept. 24; the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission decided to permanently extended the season by two weeks on June 28, 2012.

Free copies of the ramp and marina locator map for Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach are available in numerous marinas throughout Taylor County, the Taylor County IFAS Extension office in Perry, or by contacting Florida Sea Grant,, (352) 392-2801.