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  • sgef205 slide 8

    In addition to providing value for wildlife, mangroves, beaches and dunes also help protect homes and inland habitats from storm damage.

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    Estuaries, where fresh water, often from rivers, enters semi-enclosed bodies of salt water, are some of our most productive ecosystems. Oysters, clams, shrimp, and many other species of marine vertebrates and invertebrates thrive in estuarine waters, as do the myriad bird species that prey upon them.

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    Coastal forests, commonly containing oaks, pines, and/or palms, provide habitat for upland species like this scrub jay and other such as the red cockaded woodpecker, white tailed deer, and pine snake.

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    Beaches and dunes are home to threatened species such as the marsh rabbit, beach mice, snowy plovers, and gopher tortoises, and provide nesting sites for shorebirds and sea turtles.

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    Many commercially and recreationally valuable species of fish like this redfish or spotted seatrout, tarpon and snook depend on sea grass, mangroves, or salt marsh for part or all of their life cycles.

  • sgef205 slide 3

    Seagrass, mangroves, salt marshes, beaches, dunes, coastal forests and estuaries are important coastal ecosystems. Each provides breeding and nursery grounds, food, and cover for a wide variety of animals.

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    Sea-level rise may have significant effects on Florida’s coastal ecosystems. These ecosystems are the foundation upon which much of Florida’s natural beauty and economy are based. Understanding what changes may happen in the future can help us plan for those changes and, to the extent possible, lessen the impacts of those changes.

  • sgef205 slide 1

    Sea-level rise is already having an effect in Florida. Subtle, and not so subtle, changes are being noticed especially by people who live, work and play at the coasts.

  • Do not walk on dunes

    Conserve beach plants and animals. You'll find lots of colorful and attractive plants growing along our coast. Don't pick them. They are essential for wildlife habitat and for holding beaches together.

  • Estuary boating

    When boating, avoid shallow water where the boat's propeller can disturb habitat of bottom dwellers, observe speed limits in no wake zones, repair all fuel and oil leaks promptly.

  • Dirty water

    Floridians put about 7 million gallons of oil into the environment each year by pouring it down storm drains, tossing it in the garbage, or simply dumping it into the ground. Collect used oil and antifreeze and take them to a collection center, garage or recycling center. Use only non-phosphate detergents to wash your car, and wash your car in the grass so soap is not washed into the storm system.

  • Sprinkler

    If you use automatic sprinklers, install a soil moisture sensor and water your lawn only as often as needed. Adjust sprinklers to reduce runoff from the yard. Don't allow sprinklers to put water on driveways or sidewalks.

  • Clean up the coast

    Get involved and clean the coast during the International Coastal Cleanup. Each year on the third Saturday in September, more than 10,000 Floridians volunteer for a one-day cleanup of the Sunshine State's coastline.

  • Practice Estuary-Safe Yard Care

    Choose the right plants for your location--they will use less fertilizer and water. If you need fertilizer, use it sparingly, and use the slow-release type. Contact your extension agent for safe alternatives to pesticides.

  • Think Before Pouring

    Think before you pour household cleaners, paint or prescription medicine down the drain. It all ends up in the water.

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  • Accessing Florida’s Coast

    Accessing Florida's Coast

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    Seafood Quality and Safety

  • Coastal Planning

    Coastal Planning

Funded Projects

These research projects address priority issues affecting Florida’s oceans and coasts. Projects are done in collaboration with the private sector, local governments, or with resource management agencies.

Want to learn more about Sea Grant projects around the country?

The brand new National Sea Grant Impacts and Accomplishments database can search funded projects by state, year and project focus area. To access the database, click the following link: Sea Grant Impacts and Accomplishments

Accessing Florida’s Coast
Climate Change/Coastal Planning
Coastal Planning
Healthy Oceans and Coasts
Seafood Safety


Revitalizing the Hard Clam Aquaculture Industry in the Southeastern U.S. through Transferring Technology on Sunray Venus Clam, Macrocallista nimbosa, Production.  Leslie Sturmer and LeRoy Creswell, University of Florida. This project aims to advance the production and distribution of a promising new aquaculture species, the sunray venus clam through large-scale demonstration, education and hands-on training. By facilitating technology transfer to seed suppliers, growers and wholesalers, revitalization of an industry that is currently based exclusively on one bivalve species will be achieved. R-LR-A-51

Monitoring, Predicting, and Managing the Environmental Impacts of Offshore Aquaculture in the United States. Daniel Benetti, University of Miami. While there have been excellent models developed to predict the effects of aquaculture on a local scale, there has been no attempt to model the impacts of large-scale open-ocean aquaculture on an ecosystem or regional basis. Investigators will determine how nutrients exported from open-ocean aquaculture travel through the water column/food web. R-LR-A-50

Evaluation of Rapid Brevetoxin Tests for Use in Shellfish Regulation, the Shellfish Industry and Aquaculture. Leanne Flewelling, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. When Florida waters experience red tides, which are caused by the brevetoxin-producing Karina brevis,shellfish farmers suffer economic losses due to  closures of harvesting areas. These closures often[H1]  are prolonged unnecessarily due to inefficient Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) testing methods. This project will assess and validate a rapid method for measuring NSP toxicity in bivalves to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of testing. The goal is to provide agencies with a tool that will let them achieve more appropriate durations of closure for shellfish farms. R/LR-Q-35

Sustainable Production of Marine Fish and Sea Vegetables in a Marine Aquaponics System. Kevan Main, Mote Marine Laboratory. The goal of this project is develop a small-scale marine aquaponics system based on the established technology for freshwater aquaponics to provide expanded production of marine fish and sea vegetables in Florida. In addition, solid fish waste produced by the aquaponics system will be used to fertilize wetland plants for coastal restoration projects. The wetland plants will be produced by an established habitat and restoration company with nursery operations in Myakka City and at Mote Aquaculture Research Park. R/LR-A-52

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Accessing Florida’s Coast

Engaging the Marine Industry in Establishment of Transferable Protocols to Characterize, Evaluate, and Promote Anchorages as Components of an Interconnected Waterway Transportation Infrastructure. Bob Swett, University of Florida. Following a decline in boating that coincided with the economic downturn, Florida’s boating industry is headed toward recovery. However, boater educational products are out of date and monitoring has declined since the earlier programs was created. This project, done in collaboration with the Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association, will establish transferable protocols, schedules and mechanisms to manage and promote anchorages as components of an interconnected waterway transportation network. PD-14-13

 A Quantitative Framework to Evaluate Vessel Collision Risk for Marine Mammals in Florida. Julien Martin, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The establishment of protection zones, which regulate the speed and operation of boats, is viewed as a primary management action to protect marine mammals. This project will develop and apply a quantitative approach to evaluate vessel collision risk for manatees and North Atlantic right whales in Florida. These models will quantify the link between speed regulations and marine mammal injury and mortality. R/LR-B-67

Assisting Communities Plan and Manage Their Working Waterfronts and Waterways: The Boating and Waterway Planning Program. Robert Swett, University of Florida. This project will use research, extension and educational activities to assist local communities in developing science-based methods to support and improve waterway use planning, management and decision-making. The project will also help foster interagency communication and cooperation at local, regional state and national levels. R/C-P-43

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Climate Change/Coastal Planning

A Spatial-Temporal Econometric Model to Estimate Costs and Benefits of Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Strategies. Zhong-Ren Peng and Kathryn Frank, University of Florida. This collaborative project with Hillsborough County will develop an economic model to quantify the costs and benefits of different adaptation strategies to sea-level rise, with Hillsborough County serving as the case study.R/C-S-51

An Integrated Climate Change Impact Assessment Tool for Flooding of the Lower St. Johns River. Dingbao Wang, University of Central Florida; Steven Bratos, United States Army Corps of Engineers. This research, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, will produce a geospatial information tool that can be used by coastal resource managers for evaluating different adaptation strategies to climate change and floods. R/C-S-54

Reimagining the form of rural coastal communities in response to sea level rise. Kathryn Frank, University of Florida. This project will develop an integrated and interactive process of sea level rise adaptation planning and design that provides a foundation for specific planning products and tools. These tools will be tailored and tested for small town and rural coastal communities. The pilot community is Cedar Key, Fla., but the lessons learned in the setting may be useful for other rural areas. R-CS-57

Coupling Risk and Resilience Assessment for Networked Sustainable Drainage Systems in a Coastal City under Climate Change Impact. Ni-Bin Chang, University of Central Florida. This project is assisting Pinellas County’s Government to implement a new resilient storm-water system in the Cross Bayou Watershed. The plan is to incorporate new low impact development controls and flood proofing technologies to harmonize existing storm sewer systems under climate change and sea-level rise scenarios. R-CS-58

A Rapid Forecasting System for Storm Surge and Coastal Inundation Including Effects of Sea Level Rise. Peter Sheng, University of Florida. This project is integrating a rapid storm surge modelling system (CH3D) within a new web-browser-based platform so that coastal communities in Florida can visualize flooding impacts and plan for hurricane storm surge under various sea-level rise scenarios. R-CS-59

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Implementation of Barotrauma Media Tours to Expand Sea Grant Outreach Efforts with Florida Recreational Anglers. Bryan Fluech, Lisa Krimsky and Betty Staugler, University of Florida. This project will conduct a series of regional barotrauma media tours, coordinated by Florida Sea Gant agents. Local charter captains and Florida Sea Grant agents will demonstrate the use of techniques and products to safely return barotrauma-stricken reef fish to depth in a series of live field tests with journalists associated with the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Writers will be expected to use the experience as an opportunity to write a story about barotrauma and options available to anglers to release fish when fishing in deep waters. Stories will be published in media outlets that are directed towards recreational anglers. PD-14-18

Evaluating Management of Lionfish on the West Florida Shelf. Mike Allen, University of Florida. This project will implement a two-week hands-on training with stakeholders to demonstrate the use of a new modelling technique designed using the EcoPath with EcoSym platform to determine the most effective strategies for managing invasive lionfish on the West Florida Shelf. PD-14-19

Investigating Horizontal and Vertical Movement Behavior of the Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in the Western North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Mahmood Shivjy, The Guy Harvey Research Institute. This project aims to improve understanding of mako shark habitat use and migratory patterns, both in horizontal and vertical spatial dimensions by deploying additional satellite tags on mako sharks captured in various locations. The results of the project will show whether sea surface temperature and other environmental factors are likely drivers of mako migrations. Additionally, the project will determine if mako sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean form independent populations from mako sharks in the Atlantic ocean. R-LR-B-73

Restoration Research in Apalachicola Bay: Oyster Substrate and Density Sampling. Andrew Kane, University of Florida. This project addresses several important issues paramount to optimizing sustainable restoration efforts in Apalachicola Bay. Specifically, this project will identify historically-productive oyster reefs that could most benefit from focused restoration efforts and develop oyster density and size distribution measurement tools that can better facilitate management efforts to monitor restoration outcomes and oyster productivity. R-LR-B-72

Developing a size-structured stock assessment model for the spiny lobster, Panulirus argus,in the southeast United States. Yuying Zhang, Florida International University. This project is designed to develop a new size-structured model to better quantify the dynamics of the spiny lobster stock in the southeast United States and better assess its status. Various drivers will be evaluated to determine the growth patterns, including physiological constraints and environmental factors. R-LR-B-69

South Florida/Bahimian Ecoregion Policy Support and Exchange. Tom Ankersen, University of Florida. Because South Florida and the Bahamas lie within the same marine ecoregion, this project will develop and deepen institutional relationships between marine and coastal managers, lawyers and policymakers and marine extension professionals in South Florida and the Bahamas. The outcome of these relationships will help address issues of mutual concern in the shared waters, such as fisheries management and enhancement, vessel grounding and the planning of marine managed areas. PD-14-10

Development of a Tool to Screen Oyster Management Plans Resilient to Changes in Freshwater Flows: A Test in Apalachicola Bay. Bill Pine, University of Florida. This project will develop a linked hydrodynamic and oyster population model to screen policy options related to managing oyster resources in coastal ecosystems. The model could support the management of populations that are susceptible to changes in freshwater flow from recurring droughts or water allocation decisions, such as the Apalachicola Bay. The project’s goal is to inform planned and ongoing restoration programs for degraded oyster bars and provide guidance on developing fisheries management policy options that are adaptable to changes in freshwater flow, promoting fisheries resilience. R/LR-B-68

Fisheries Forums: Crafting Processes and Tools to Enable Place-Based Cooperative Governance of Florida’s Saltwater Fisheries. Kai Lorenzon, University of Florida. This project will facilitate cooperative, place-based governance of Florida’s saltwater recreational fisheries by crafting fisheries forums: a framework of structures, processes and tools that will allow stakeholders to engage constructively in identifying and addressing local and regional fisheries management issues. The research will provide innovative approaches to affect decisions that can sustain coastal resources as well as new models and tools to more sustainably manage marine fisheries. R/LR-B-71

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Healthy Ecosystems


Spatial Ecological Modeling of the Gulf of Mexico Supporting an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment. Cameron Ainsworth, University of South Florida. This project is developing a spatial food-web model using the Atlantis simulation framework to support ecosystem-based fishery management efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. The model will use stock assessments, fisheries independent surveys, and geospatial data on habitat, species distributions, and human-use patterns to provide a synoptic view of marine ecosystem function.

Fishing Down an Invasive Species: Determining the Effort Necessary to Reduce Local Lionfish Population and Mitigate Their Effects. Chris Stallings, University of South Florida; Mark Albins, Auburn University; Craig Layman, Florida International University. This project is attempting to identify the most efficient and cost-effective methods to fish down lionfish numbers so native fish populations can recover and stabilize. Researchers will use volunteer spear divers to capture lionfish at different frequency rates from five selected areas off southeast Florida, while monitoring changes in the numbers of prey-sized native fishes. R-LR-B-66H

Assessing the Effectiveness of Dedicated Lionfish Removals for Restoration of Ecological Function. Richard Appeldoorn, University of Puerto Rico; Matthew Craig, MTC Associates. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of using divers and snorkelers competing in fishing derbies and rodeos to reduce lionfish numbers in Puerto Rico. Lionfish derbies have become popular social events across the Caribbean and South Florida that help raise public awareness about the lionfish problem, but there are no precise results that help resource managers determine if they are effective for small-scale control under a variety of conditions. R-LR-B-66G

Developing Practical Removal Techniques for Lionfish Control. Lad Akins, REEF. Researchers will try to determine which is the most effective of three lionfish removal techniques – derbies, traps, or continuous removal. The Reef Environmental Education Foundation, known as REEF, will compare and contrast results from among the three on coral reefs in selected locations in South Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.R/LR-B-66F

The Effects of Projected Sea-Level Rise on Everglades Coastal Ecosystems: Evaluating the Potential For and Mechanisms of Peat Collapse Using Integrated Mesocosm and Field Manipulations. Tiffany Troxler, Florida International University. This project will use small and large-scale experimental manipulations of salinity to evaluate the potential effects of sea level rise on the degradation of Everglades peat soils. The results will be used to guide water management options that could slow the rate of peat collapse by hydrating susceptible areas – while at the same time, not using more water than is necessary to achieve that outcome. R/C-S-56

An Integrative Assessment of Estuarine Impacts on Coral Health: A Case Study in South Florida. Joshua Voss, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University. This project will determine the effects of freshwater discharges on coral health with the goal of improving resource management and conservation strategies in South Florida. R/LR-B-70

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Seafood Safety

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Repairing Failed Asphalt Shingle Tab Seals to Mitigate Roof Cover Damage in High Winds. David Prevatt, University of Florida. Research has shown that a large percentage of the hurricane damage to residential homes in Florida is due to roof shingles that have become unsealed because of natural aging. This project, which is being done as a university-private sector partnership, will develop, validate and promote a repair method for unsealed asphalt roof shingles. R/C-D-22

State and Local Policy Innovation and Implementation for Coastal Communities. Tom Ankersen, University of Florida. This project will provide continuing legal and policy assistance to coastal zone stakeholders in order to enhance coastal access, revitalize coastal communities, protect ecosystem health and address coastal change through hazard mitigation and adaptation. This policy and legal assistance will be provided in four different areas: recreational and commercial working waterfronts, boating and waterway management, coastal change and protection of watersheds. R/C-P-42

Promoting Preventative Mitigations of Buildings against Hurricanes through Enhanced Risk-Assessment and Decision-Making. Sungmoon Jung, Florida State University. This project is working with the insurance industry to improve the accuracy of hurricane risk models, which are used to determine insurance rates for Florida’s coastal communities and homeowners. R-CS-60

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