Charlotte County is located along southwest Florida’s gulf coast. The 694 square mile county contains 129 square miles of estuary waters and 12 miles of beaches. The Charlotte Harbor estuary, at the heart of the county, is a biologically productive natural jewel. The estuary receives most of its fresh water from the Peace and Myakka rivers. The Peace and Myakka river watersheds are extremely large, draining on average 26 acres of water for every 1 acre of estuary. Because the estuary is at the receiving end of the watershed, every effort must be made to ensure both estuary and watershed are in balance, so that all life continues to flourish.
During the months from November to April, Charlotte County ‘s population of 152,000 increases by as much as 30 percent, due to visiting tourists. Tourism is a major industry for Charlotte County with beaches being the top attraction.
The estuary and offshore Gulf waters support an important commercial and recreational fishery, which includes tarpon, flounder, permit, mullet, snapper, seatrout, cobia, and pompano, shrimp, blue crab and stone crab. In addition, hard clam aquaculture has become a significant industry for the Charlotte Harbor area.
The Sea Grant marine extension program in Charlotte County is active in many areas relating to boating, fishing, and watershed/coastal living.
- Florida Bay Scallops – Great Bay Scallop Search. August each year. Come out and participate in this citizen based survey event. Scallop cage gardening – volunteer based restoration and monitoring ongoing throughout the year.
- Florida Master Naturalist Program – Learn about the coastal, freshwater and upland systems in one of Florida’s largest watershed. Classes held throughout the year.
- Derelect fishing gear recovery efforts – monofilament recycling and trap removal efforts ongoing throughout the year.
- Presentations on a variety of subjects (estuarine ecology, artificial reefs, waterway management) to a wide spectrum of fishing, boating and environmental organizations. These are scheduled when requested.
- Boating and Waterways Management
- Estuarine Ecology
- Coastal Wetland Habitat Restoration
- Marine and Fishery Resource Management
- MS, Environmental Science, Florida Gulf Coast University
- BA, Environmental Science, Florida Gulf Coast University