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Shark researchIn 1999, Rookery Bay Reserve researchers began fish demographic assessments to gain an understanding of fish, and specifically sharks', use of estuaries as nurseries and their relative distributions in relation to hydrologic restoration in the Ten Thousand Islands watershed. Gill nets and baited lines are used to catch sharks and sawfish to produce a baseline database of community composition and age ranges. All sharks and sawfish are tagged before release so that we can continue to learn about habitat use as the fish grow or age.

receivers 250An acoustic monitoring program is now underway to complement this assessment. Five acoustic receivers have been deployed in one of the bays in our Ten Thousand Islands study area. The receivers will record the presence of any sharks, sawfish or other large fish with an acoustic tag that swim within a several-hundred-meter radius. The receivers will also record data from tags in use by partnering institutions who are conducting similar research, including FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory. The data will be downloaded from the receivers each month as part of the reserve’s ongoing fisheries assessment in the same bay.

acoustic 250This new program will enhance Rookery Bay Reserve’s research and management efforts and will also fill gaps in similar studies already being conducted to the north and south of the Reserve, providing a more comprehensive understanding of fish movement and habitat needs along the coast.

Learn more about our shark nursery assessment program.

June 28, 2017

Last week, Taylor and I left the Goodland field station earlier than usual in hopes of avoiding the summer heat. Little did we know, we were about to encounter more than just sea turtle tracks. As we approach Cape Romano, we hear a splash right by the shore.

June 19, 2017

Because it is summer, manatees are a less commonly-seen species of marine animal on the water during turtle patrol. But when we do get a glimpse of them, it’s definitely a treat. With their massive round bodies, adorable faces and peaceful demeanor, its hard not to love these not-so-little guys.

Capri Connection: Pepper busting Calvary has arrived

PantherWildlife and security cameras stationed around Reserve facilities have picked up a number of interesting species and activities. This image was taken near our facilities building on Tower Road on June 16. A deer was captured by the camera at 3:48 am, and less than five hours later, here comes a healthy male panther.

Male panthers have a 90-mile range and it is thought that younger, less dominant males get pushed to the periphery of older, more dominant males' territories, which tend to be centered from around Big Cypress State Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and Picayune Strand State Forest. Over the past several years, cats with FWC radio collars have been noted as traveling seasonally into the Rookery Bay area in the dry season, and traveling back to Picayune before or around the rainy season. It seems our office is in this young male’s new peripheral territory, and he may be the same cat recorded by our monitoring camera at the crocodile nest site. Hopefully we catch him on camera in these locations again to try to determine if it is the same cat.

See video of panther on crocodile nest in April 2017

See video of panther walking past our camera in June 2016

Report your sighting at FWC website

See more photos from our wildlife cameras


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