The tropical system that came across Florida at the end of July dumped nearly 18” of rain in some parts of the Reserve. This large amount of fresh water, called a “pulse,” is clearly visible in the salinity patterns recorded by our datasondes. It took a few days for the pulse to make its way off the land however, the overall salinity level in Faka Union Bay continues to be slightly lower than it was before the rain event. Learn more about our System-wide Monitoring program here - https://rookerybay.org/learn/research/mapping-monitoring/system-wide-monitoring-program.html
It was a banner night for the shark research team on August 13, with a total of 31 sharks caught in Pumpkin Bay! This beats the previous record of 25 sharks last October. Of the 31 sharks caught, 21 were bulls three months old or less, 6 were adult bonnetheads and 4 were juvenile lemon sharks. The largest shark, an immature bull shark, 965 mm in length or 95.5cm or about 3ft. Another bull was a recapture: it was recorded in Faka Union Bay last month. This information is instrumental in helping us gain an understanding of population size and habitat use in relation to hydrologic restoration in the Ten Thousand Islands watershed.
In 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.
Please help us welcome Jared Franklin as the most recent addition to Rookery Bay Research Reserve staff! He joins us as an Environmental Specialist in the Stewardship department. His responsibilities include invasive plant and animal identification and control, permit review and prescribed fire. Originally from Torrington, CT, Jared received his Bachelor's of Science degree in Environmental Science from Messiah College in Grantham, PA. He moved to Florida in 2016 and most recently worked as a Biological Aide with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast Refuge Complex.
Wildlife 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.
Meet Rookery Bay Research Reserve's summer sea turtle interns, Taylor Irwin and Jennifer Gooch.
Taylor is studying at University of Massachusetts Amherst and is funded though NOAA's Five Colleges program. She’ll be starting her senior year in the fall and is majoring in biology. She spent last summer at the New England Aquarium as a Marine Mammal Research and Education intern.
Jennifer, who is attending Stetson College in Florida, is directly supported by the Friends of Rookery Bay. She has extensive experience with sea turtle research in Costa Rica as well as in Florida, having volunteered at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and the Discovery Science Center in New Smyrna Beach.
Both young ladies are stationed at the Reserve's Ten Thousand Islands Field Station dormitory and spend five days a week (weather permitting) patrolling the beaches and caging nests at the Cape Romano complex.
Learn more about their efforts, and see the current nest numbers, here.