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Public Forum for Land and Water Conservation Pertaining to Florida’s Amendment 1 to Be Held This Thursday

Public Forum for Land and Water Conservation Pertaining to Florida’s Amendment 1 to Be Held This Thursday

The Gainesville Sun will be holding a forum to discuss land and water conservation and other topics.  More information as quoted from The Gainesville Sun follows.

The Gainesville Sun is holding a forum on land and water conservation, including a discussion of how state lawmakers are planning to spend Amendment 1 money.

The forum will be held March 19 at 7 p.m. at the University of Florida’s Pugh Hall. The event and parking are free and open to the public.

The event will include a panel discussion featuring Ramesh Buch, who manages the Alachua County Forever land conservation program; Greg Galpin, a Plum Creek Timber Company official who has worked on local conservation easements; Pegeen Hanrahan, former Gainesville mayor and deputy director of the Amendment 1 campaign; and Charlie Houder, who spent 28 years in public land acquisition and management with the Suwannee and St. Johns River water management districts. Sun editorial page editor Nathan Crabbe will moderate the discussion.

Suggested questions may be sent to him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There will also be an opportunity for audience questions at the event. The event is being sponsored by The Gainesville Sun and UF's Bob Graham Center for Public Service. It will be streamed live at”

Photo above taken on the Silver River in Ocala Florida courtesy of

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EPA Proposes 90 Day Public Comment Period Concerning Revisions to the National Contingency Plan; Subpart J which Allows the Use of Oil-Dispersing Agents during Oil Spills

EPA Proposes 90 Day Public Comment Period Concerning Revisions to the National Contingency Plan; Subpart J which Allows the Use of Oil-Dispersing Agents during Oil Spills


On January 22, 2015, EPA released proposed revisions to the National Contingency Plan; specifically Subpart J (Product Schedule) which governs the use of spill-mitigating substances (including dispersants and other biological and chemical agents) in response to oil discharged into navigable U.S. waters. The agency’s proposal adds new criteria to the NCP Product Schedule, revises toxic testing protocols; amends requirements for authority notifications, monitoring, and data reporting; and clarifies the evaluations needed to remove products from the schedule. The last revision to the National Contingency Plan occurred in response to the passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. To learn more, check out the Subpart J Proposed Rule Summary.

Public comments will be accepted only through the official docket: EPA-HA-OPA-2006-0090.

Photo above courtesy of NASA's Tara Satellites. The photo was taken on May 24, 2010 of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.



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Understanding the Linkage between Harmful Algae Blooms and Bird Deaths

Understanding the Linkage between Harmful Algae Blooms and Bird Deaths

In 2007, hundreds of migratory birds were mysteriously found stranded or dead in Monterey Bay, California.  This was the beginning of a quest that brought together specialists who helped discover the link between algae blooms and bird strandings. A red tide caused by a type of marine plankton called Akashiwo sanguinea had been occurring during this massive bird mortality event in Monterey Bay, but researchers were finding it hard to link the two events and identify the actual culprit until tests were performed on an abundant substance found throughout the bay area--sea foam. Tests performed on the foam determined that the algae was in fact nontoxic, but the foam created by the churning of decaying organisms was impairing the water repellency of the birds’ feathers (similar to the effect detergent would have on them) and allowing the underlying skin to be exposed, thus leading to hypothermia.

Because of research following events such as the 2007 incident in Monterey Bay, many organizations and government agencies now understand the significance of monitoring our ocean currents and algae blooms in real time, which in turn will hopefully lead to better mitigation of future scenarios. You can read more about the Monterey Bay study at PLOS One, an online research journal.


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Administrative Permit Requirements

Administrative Permit Requirements


(Note: This blog is an excerpt from EPA/USACE’s Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) concerning sampling control site stations.)

MPRSA Section 103 permits for the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of disposal at an approved ODMDS are issued by USACE SAD district offices.  MPRSA Section 103 applications should be consistent with USACE permitting regulations in 33 CFR Parts 320 to 330.  All information submitted as part of the MPRSA application process should also comply with EPA Ocean Dumping Regulations in 40 CFR Parts 220 to 228.

USACE SAD districts will coordinate all sediment testing plans with EPA Region 4.  Pre-application conferences to prepare appropriate sampling plans are encouraged for all MPRSA Section 103 permit applicants.  Upon receiving all necessary information from the applicant, USACE SAD districts will provide for EPA Region 4 review the complete documentation of the project evaluation conducted under the SAP in the form of a Section 103 evaluation.  This information can be provided prior to, with, or after the Public Notice.  The evaluation reports will be consistent with the information provided in Appendix C and will be accompanied by a Section 103 Sediment Testing Report (Appendix D) and draft permit conditions necessary for implementation of the ODMDS Site Management and Monitoring Plan (SMMP). 

USACE SAD districts are responsible for coordination of all federal actions, including EPA Region 4 concurrences, pertaining to MPRSA Section 103 applications.  The applicant may also need to coordinate activities with the appropriate state regulatory agencies for compliance with Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and the State Coastal Management Program [Coastal Zone Management Act Section 307(c)].  A schedule for coordination is provided in Appendix B.

The permit process is outlined in Figure 2-1 and consists of 10 main steps:

  1. Pre-application Consultation:  Includes discussion of the need for the dredging project and a discussion of alternatives and the qualitative and quantitative information required by the District Engineer for use in evaluating the proposed dredged material.
  2. Evaluation of Dredged Material Proposed for Ocean Disposal:  Includes development, approval, and implementation of the SAP.  This step should include close coordination between EPA Region 4, USACE SAD districts, and the applicant (see Section 2.2).
  3. Permit Application: According to 33 CFR 325.1, a permit application must include the items listed in Table 2-1.
  4. Review of Application for Completeness:
    1. Additional information is requested if the application is incomplete.
      1. Applicant is given the opportunity to respond according to each district’s review schedule.  
  5. Public Notice:  If the application is complete, USACE issues a Public Notice per 33 CFR 325.3.  The notice must include all of the information required in 33 CFR 325.3(a), including the information required by 40 CFR 225.2(a) (see Table 2-2).  A supplemental revised or corrected Public Notice will be issued if the District Engineer believes the new information affects the review of the proposal. 
  6. USACE Section 103 Evaluation:  Either before, with, or after issuance of the Public Notice, USACE’s District Engineer will submit to EPA Region 4 its determination of compliance with criteria (40 CFR 227 and 228) and the basis for that determination in the form of a Section 103 evaluation (see Appendix B).  If the District Engineer or EPA Region 4 does not find the material to be in compliance, the project is modified or the waiver process is initiated (40 CFR 225.3 and 225.4):
    1. Economically feasible alternatives are reviewed.  If an adequate alternative is identified, the decision to deny a permit is discussed in either a Statement of Findings or Record of Decision.
    2. If no alternatives are available, a request for waiver from the Chief of Engineers is applied for.
    3. The EPA Administrator reviews the waiver request and either denies or grants the waiver.
  7. EPA MPRSA Review:  Independent review of the information will be performed to determine whether the disposal activity complies with the criteria found in 40 CFR 227 and 228.  This includes a review of all necessary physical, chemical, and biological tests.  Refer to Table 2-3 for detailed explanations of EPA MPRSA review periods.
  8. USACE Public Interest Review:  USACE must consider all comments, suggestions, and concerns provided by all commenters and incorporate their comments into the administrative record of the application. If the permit is determined to be contrary to the public interest, the decision to deny a permit is discussed in either a Statement of Findings or a Record of Decision.
  9. Other Permits:  If the permit is not contrary to the public interest, review of other required permits needs to be addressed.  If applicable, other application permits from federal and state agencies need to be obtained.
  10. Permit Issued:  A decision to issue a permit is discussed in either a Statement of Findings or a Record of Decision, and a Permit Public Notice with a list of permit decisions is published by USACE.

Table 2-1.  Permit Application Items [33 CFR 325.1]


A complete description of the proposed activity, including necessary drawings, sketches, or plans.


The location, purpose, and need for the proposed activity; scheduling of the activity; names and addresses of adjoining property owners; location and dimension of adjacent structures.


A list of authorizations required by other federal, interstate, state, or local agencies for the work, including all approvals received or denials already made.


The source of the material; the purpose of the disposal and a description of the type, composition, and quantity of the material (this ideally includes information necessary to determine if the material is in compliance with the criteria); the method of transportation and disposal of the material; and the location of the disposal site.


The application should include:  (1) an evaluation of dredged material disposal alternatives, including an examination of potential beneficial uses of the proposed dredged material and a consideration of alternative disposal options before selecting the ocean disposal option (40 CFR Sections 227.14 to 227.16), and (2) documentation of the criteria used as the basis upon which selections or rejections were made.  If prior evaluations are current, reference to them is encouraged.


Include written documentation of the site dredging history, including all results from previous sediment testing (both abiotic and biotic) and a general survey of other prior or current dredging activities at or near the site.  If prior evaluations are current, reference to them is encouraged.


If the ocean disposal application for re-certification of the proposed maintenance dredged material is currently covered or was previously covered under a MPRSA Section 103 disposal permit, the permit number (or Public Notice and date) should be provided.  If more than 3 years have passed since the last evaluation was conducted for the dredge site, or if data are considered to be inadequate, the USACE SAD district, in consultation with EPA Region 4, will assess the need for additional evaluation.


Give detailed information along with written documentation on known or suspected site contamination including oil, chemical, or waste spills and any other discharges that may cause contamination of the proposed dredging site.  The local U.S. Coast Guard and Port Authority offices shall be consulted to obtain additional information on spills or suspected contamination.  Results of the consultation shall be documented as part of the application.  Any chemicals known to contaminate or suspected of contaminating the proposed dredging site must be added to the list of possible COCs (see Section 5.0 of this manual).


Table 2-2.  Public Notice Information* Specific to MPRSA Section 103 Public Notices [33 CFR 325.3(a)(17) and 40 CFR 225.2(a)]


Regulatory Requirement



The location of the proposed disposal site and its physical boundaries

Include the disposal site corner coordinates and center coordinates (latitude and longitude).  Include distance from shore and water depth.  Include disposal zone if applicable.


A statement about whether the disposal site has been designated pursuant to MPRSA Section 102(c)

Include date of designation and/or CFR citation.


If the proposed disposal site has not been designated by the Administrator, a statement of the basis for the proposed determination of why no previously designated site is feasible and a description of the characteristics of the proposed disposal site necessary for its designation pursuant to 40 CFR Part 228

Include a statement as to why an EPA-designated ODMDS is not feasible.  Address the 5 general (40CFR228.5) and 11 specific criteria (40CFR228.6) for the proposed site.  Detailed information is typically provided in a supplemental document such as an Environmental Assessment.


The known historical uses of the proposed disposal site

Provide year site was first used.  Provide volume of material disposed at site (see Ocean Disposal Database:  Include details regarding most recent disposal project (volume, dates, physical characteristics, disposal zone if applicable).


Existence and documented effects of other authorized disposals that have been made in the disposal area (e.g., heavy metal background reading and organic carbon content)

Provide summary of monitoring (bathymetry, physical, chemical, biological) that has been conducted at the ODMDS and the conclusions of the monitoring.  [For example:  there has/has not been mounding at the site; there has been a change in the grain size to a siltier/sandier bottom; there has/has not been a significant change in the taxa/diversity/biomass of macro invertebrates at the site.]


An estimate of the length of time during which disposal would continue at the proposed site

Provide the anticipated date for initiation of disposal activities and the expected duration of disposal activities.


Information on the characteristics and composition of the dredged material

At a minimum, provide results of physical tests.  Also provide results of chemical and biological tests on the dredged material if available.  If EPA Region 4 has concurred on the suitability of the material for ocean disposal, this should be mentioned here.  If additional tests will be conducted, this should be explained as well as how the results will be made available to the public.


A statement concerning a preliminary determination of the need for and/or availability of an Environmental Impact Statement


* Information provided for the Public Notice and other pertinent information will be used by USACE as an aid in determining the suitability of the proposed dredged material for ocean disposal under the criteria defined in 40 CFR  Part 227 (see Appendix C for Section 103 Evaluation Report).  If the data submitted by the applicant are insufficient to evaluate the proposed dredged material and prepare the Section 103 Evaluation Report (Appendix C), USACE SAD district, with the cooperation of EPA Region 4, will request additional information. 


USEPA/USACE.  2008.  Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) for Requirements and Procedures for Evaluation of the Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in South­eastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast Waters. EPA 904-B-08-001. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, Atlanta, GA. 2008.pdf


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Two Innovative Florida Cities Reuse Stormwater Runoff

Two Innovative Florida Cities Reuse Stormwater Runoff


Pioneering new solutions in Florida for the treatment and reuse of stormwater runoff, the City of Altamonte Springs, the City of Apopka, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the St. Johns River Water Management District, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) have teamed up to create a project called A‑FIRST (FDOT Integrated Reuse and Stormwater Treatment). According to DEP’s website, A-FIRST is a $12.5-million project that captures the stormwater from I-4 then directs it to a water treatment facility where it is piped into the cities’ reclaimed water supply. The water is used for irrigation and as an alternative water supply for Apopka. According to DEP’s website, the treatment of this water is expected to cut back on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering the Little Wekiva River by 99% and 98%, respectively. In many places around the world, developing sustainable uses for stormwater runoff is nothing new. However, in Florida, it is a breakthrough!



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ANAMAR Crew Completes Assessment of the Columbia River ODMDS

ANAMAR Crew Completes Assessment of the Columbia River ODMDS

ANAMAR scientists have been working off the coast of Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River monitoring the chemical, physical, and biological aspects of an ocean dredged material disposal site (ODMDS). Part of the goal for this project was to calculate the health and abundance of epifauna and infauna in the area, including an important species, the Dungeness crab.

Pictured is the crew preparing crab traps.

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EPA and USACE Propose Clean Water Act Clarifications

EPA and USACE Propose Clean Water Act Clarifications

In an attempt to increase efficiency in determining the coverage of the Clean Water Act (CWA), EPA and USACE have teamed up to solicit information and data from the public; the scientific community; and tribal, state, and local resource agencies to better define certain terminology within the CWA such as “waters of the United States” and “other waters” as well as to inquire which waters should be out of jurisdiction for certain CWA criteria.

“We are clarifying protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Clean water is essential to every single American, from families who rely on safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops, to hunters and fishermen who depend on healthy waters for recreation and their work, and to businesses that need a steady supply of water for operations.”

"America's waters and wetlands are valuable resources that must be protected today and for future generations,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy. “Today's rulemaking will better protect our aquatic resources, by strengthening the consistency, predictability, and transparency of our jurisdictional determinations. The rule's clarifications will result in a better public service nationwide."

Information was obtained from EPA and Civil Works Prepublication Version of the Proposed Rule and EPA’s Press Release regarding this proposal. 

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Port Everglades Expansion

Port Everglades Expansion

With anticipation for the deepening of the Panama Canal, the motion for a Port Everglades Expansion has finally cleared the necessary scientific research claiming that not only will the expansion bring 11,000 jobs, it will also “replace and enhance thousands of corals and mangroves disrupted by dredging.” According to NOAA officials, this expansion will have several complications, such as the destruction of 22 acres of coral reef habitat and the likelihood of indirectly disturbing another 118 acres of delicate ecosystems. To offset these complications, there is a mitigation plan to build artificial reefs transplanted with 11,500 corals taken from the port entrance and adding another 35,000 to 50,000 nursery-grown corals. The work will begin this spring with the planting of 70,000 mangroves on 16.5 acres of wetlands within the port. Port Everglades officials are hoping to complete the dredging in 2017. For more information concerning the Port Everglades Expansion, check out the Sun Sentinel article below.


Sun Sentinel News Article on Port Everglades Expansion

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Tonight in Gainesville: Fragile Springs Forum


The Gainesville Sun is holding a forum on the condition of our region's natural springs and other issues involving water quality and quantity in our state. The Fragile Springs forum will be held March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St. in Gainesville. The event is free and open to the public.

The event will include a panel discussion featuring Florida Springs Institute Director Robert Knight, Florida Farm Bureau Director of Government and Community Affairs Charles Shinn, Gainesville Regional Utilities Supervising Engineer Rick Hutton, Springs Eternal Project Co-director John Moran and Suwannee River Water Management District Executive Director Ann Shortelle.

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NOAA and EPA Seek Public Comment on Proposing a Disapproval of Oregon’s Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program

NOAA and EPA Seek Public Comment on Proposing a Disapproval of Oregon’s Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program

On December 19, 2013, NOAA and EPA announced the beginning of a 90-day public comment period on the agencies’ proposal to disapprove the State of Oregon’s coastal nonpoint pollution control program. NOAA and EPA state that the program isn’t complete and has gaps concerning the water quality impacts of new development and onsite sewage disposal systems (OSDS). They also contend that the program needs additional management measures for forestry. The 90-day public comment period will end May 15, 2014.


NOAA’s Newsroom:

Oregon Coastal Nonpoint Program NOAA/EPA Proposed Findings:

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Indian River Lagoon Crisis

Indian River Lagoon Crisis


In the past year, conditions in the Indian River Lagoon have developed into a major environmental crisis for Florida due to the deaths of more than 60 dolphins, 250 pelicans, and 120 manatees. Additionally, the number of blue crabs in the lagoon has declined drastically. The Indian River Lagoon is one of North America’s most diverse estuaries, with more than 4,300 plant and animal species, including 35 species that are listed as threatened or endangered. For years many concerns about the health of the lagoon have escalated because of fresh water introduction, which results in decreased salinity, toxic algae blooms, toxic quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the lagoon, and superblooms of phytoplankton, all of which result in a loss of seagrass and the introduction of nonnative invasive species. These conditions can have life threatening effects on the delicate and essential flora and fauna of this region. Many taskforces of scientists are studying and monitoring the health of the lagoon while several agencies investigate the cause of the mass deaths of the dolphins, manatees, and birds.


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SERIM: Water Quality Criteria


Water Quality Criteria

Excerpted from the Southeastern Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) Screen to Determine WQC Compliance


A screening method utilizing sediment chemistry can be used to determine compliance. The screen assumes that all of the contaminants in the dredged material are released into the water column during the disposal operation (see Section 10.1.1 of the 1991 Green Book). If the numerical model predicts that the concentration of all COCs released into the water column are less than the applicable WQC, the marine WQC LPC is satisfied.

The model needs to be run only for the COC that requires the greatest dilution. If the contaminant requiring the greatest dilution is shown to meet the LPC, all of the other contaminants that require less dilution will also meet the LPC. The contaminant that would require the greatest dilution is determined by calculating the dilution that would be required to meet the applicable marine WQC. To determine the required dilution (Dr), the following equation is solved for each COC:

Dr = (Cs-Cwq) / (Cwq - Cds)                                 [Eq. 3-1]


Cs =    concentration of the contaminant in the dredged material elutriate, expressed as micrograms per liter (μg/L) as determined by either equation 3-1 below or by elutriate chemical analytical results discussed in Section

Cwq =  applicable marine WQC (EPA WQC or state WQS), in (μg/L)

Cds =   background concentration of the constituent at the disposal site water column, in μg/L

NOTE:Dilution is defined as the volume of ambient water in the sample divided by the volume of elutriate water in the sample.

Note that most contaminant results are reported in micrograms per kilogram (μg/kg) dry weight. To convert the contaminant concentration reported on a dry-weight basis to the contaminant concentration in the dredged material, the dry-weight concentration must be multiplied by the mass of dredged-material solids per liter of dredged material:

                                  [Eq. 3-2]


Cdw =  contaminant concentration in dredged material, reported on a dry-weight basis (μg/kg)

ns =    percent solids as a decimal

G =    specific gravity of the solids. Use 2.65 if site-specific data are not available.

A table showing each contaminant and the dilution required to meet the WQC should be provided with the analysis. Alternatively, a module in the STFATE model can be used. The module requires the solids concentration (g/L), which is the term in brackets in Equation 3-2 above multiplied by 1000.

The concentration of the contaminant that would require the greatest dilution is then modeled using a numerical mixing model. Model input parameters are specific to each proposed dredging project and each ocean disposal site. Standard STFATE input parameters for each disposal site are being developed with each ODMDS-specific SMMP. They are included in Appendix G along with additional guidance on model usage. The key parameters derived from the dispersion model are the maximum concentration of the contaminant in the water column outside the boundary of the disposal site during the 4-hour initial-mixing period or anywhere in the marine environment after the 4-hour initial-mixing period. If both of these concentrations are below the applicable marine WQC, the WQC LPC is met and no additional testing is required to determine compliance with the WQC. If either of these concentrations exceeds the WQC, additional testing is necessary to determine compliance with the WQC, as described in the next section.



Citation: USEPA/USACE. 2008. Southeast Regional Implementation Manual (SERIM) for Requirements and Procedures for Evaluation of the Ocean Disposal of Dredged Material in South­eastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast Waters. EPA 904-B-08-001. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division, Atlanta, GA. 2008.pdf

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A Brief History of the Gulf Sturgeon

A Brief History of the Gulf Sturgeon


sturgeon 1The Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) are modern descendants of a group of ancient freshwater fish called Chondrostei which, along with alligators and crocodiles, were able to survive the mass extinction of the Mesozoic Era. Gulf Sturgeon have been known to swim into both fresh and saltwater to feed and uniquely possess a protruding suction mouth that makes it easy to obtain food from riverbeds, lakebeds, and the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Sturgeon have an average lifespan of 20 to 25 years and grow to a maximum length of 7½ feet, with an average body weight of 150 to 200 lbs., but have been known to reach weights of up to 300 lbs. Gulf Surgeon males become sexually mature at about age 8 and spawn every year after that, while the females become sexually mature at age 12 and spawn only three to four times during their lifespan. Females require 3 years to develop each batch of 200,000 to 500,000 eggs, of which only few will actually survive. Disease, water quality, predators, and a number of other factors claim 99.999% of eggs, hatchlings, and juveniles. USGS calculates that females need to successfully produce only two offspring to maintain a stable population.

In 1991 the federal government granted protection to the Gulf Sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act after a massive population decline occurred due in part to over fishing, damming of rivers, and pollution. Thanks to the many agencies, organizations, and private citizens that have continued to work together to help maintain accurate scientific research and field data, this species that links back 200 million years can still be found among today’s aquatic fauna.


A word from the field from ANAMAR’s Christine Smith:sturgeon 2

“Here are some photos from today’s USGS sturgeon-tagging effort.  We caught about 15 fish on the Suwannee near Manatee Springs.  Normally they catch more, but the DO [dissolved oxygen] was pretty low in the area.  We scanned for previous tags, weighed, measured fork and total length, tagged, and took blood samples.  Prior to fishing we ran a few sidescan transects to try to identify individual sturgeon as well as habitat.”

–Christine Smith on July 30, 2013


(Photos courtesy of Christine Smith)


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Word From the Field: San Francisco DODS Survey

ANAMAR’s biologist Jason Seitz recently assisted EPA and USACE in a benthic survey of the San Francisco Deep Ocean Disposal Site (SF-DODS) aboard the R/V Point Sur 50 miles off the coast of San Francisco. During the survey, Jason and other crew spotted many of nature’s majestic creatures. In the following paragraph Jason lists some of the species observed during the survey.

“We encountered several species of marine mammals during the SF-DODS survey, including humpback whales, northern right whale dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Rizzo’s dolphins, sea otters, seals, and sea lions.  We also encountered pelagic birds such as black-footed albatross, storm petrels, shearwaters, murres, murrelets, and tufted puffins.”

-Jason Seitz


SF-DODS, an ocean disposal site for dredged materials, is regulated under the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (MPRSA) and co-managed by USACE San Francisco District and EPA Region 9. SF-DODS is also the nation’s deepest disposal site. It is located along the continental slope in water depths of about 3000 meters and is just outside the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.




Photo's courtesy of Jason Seitz



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Potentially Polluted Shipwrecks Along U.S. Shores Undergo Remediation

Potentially Polluted Shipwrecks Along U.S. Shores Undergo Remediation

NOAA’s Findings on Potentially Polluting Shipwrecks Found in U.S. Waters

In 2010 Congress appropriated $1 million in funds toward identifying the most significant polluted shipwrecks along U.S. waters. With the help of the Remediation of Underwater Legacy Environmental Threats (RULET), U.S. Coast Guard, Regional Response Teams (RRTs) and NOAA, a complete investigation was conducted listing 20,000 vessels wrecked in U.S. waters. Of the 20,000 wrecked vessels, the RULET database narrowed down 573 wrecks within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (U.S. EEZ) that could pose a substantial oil pollution threat. Another investigation was launched and of the 573 potential threats, 107 were found to be capable of causing substantial pollution. Eliminations were calculated due to the violent nature of the shipwrecks, structural reductions and demolitions already conducted due to navigational hazards, etc. Further investigations were conducted based on vessel contents, condition, environmental sensitivity, and other factors. NOAA then used a series of vessel-related risk factors based on current knowledge and best professional judgment to assess physical integrity and pollution potential as well as other factors that may impact potential removal operations if such operations were undertaken. Vessels that scored low were screened out and 87 remained on the priority list. Fifty-three of the 87 remaining ships were sunk in an act of war, 10 in a collision, 5 in a fire, 4 in a grounding, 10 in a storm, and 5 were sunk in an unknown or other cause. During recovery activities, a number of historical and cultural concerns with the wartime wrecks also surfaced, as some are gravesites and most contain ammunitions and other hazardous cargos.

All 87 vessels received a proper companion screening report, each of which contained an overall score and preliminary vessel-specific recommendations for further action, ranging from awareness within the local response community, to monitoring, to further assessment and planning for underwater remediation. More details are contained in NOAA’s published March 2013 online report.

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Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems



The College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida has been on the scene of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout since April of 2010, and many faculty members continue to participate in the ongoing research. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative awarded funding for eight research consortia to study the impacts of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the College is proud to host one of these centers. The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem (C-IMAGE) is an international group of distinguished scientists interested in the integrated study of the fate, transport, and effects of oil and dispersants as they interact with the Gulf of Mexico marine environment.

Our study begins at the well head where hot high pressure petroleum fluids exit into a cold seawater environment. The thermodynamics of the oil/gas/seawater system deep on the seafloor determine the initial phase composition, bubble/droplet size and density. Moving forward in space and time, the petroleum compounds and aggregations are advected by the ocean circulation. Chemical and biological processes of dispersion, dissolution and degradation then provide the trophic level connections which determine the spatial interactions with biota and ultimately the potential for the oil/gas/dispersant mixture to affect populations, communities, and the overall ecosystem.

To date, C-IMAGE scientists have spent more than 80 days onboard research vessels in the Gulf of Mexico collecting water, sediment, and biological samples. Some samples have been sent to our partners in Hamburg for high pressure biodegradation experiments, some to Calgary to see how the oil partitions as it ages and weathers and many of them are being analyzed here at USF looking at oil concentrations in sediments, PAH concentrations in fish tissue, phytoplankton impacts, and toxicity impacts. Laboratory experiments are underway in the Netherlands at Wageningen University to determine the toxicity of oil with and without dispersants. Sediments are being analyzed to determine the impact of oil on microbial assemblages and to find signs of recovery. These studies are closely integrated, results from one feeding into parameterizations for another. By looking at the Gulf of Mexico holistically, we can better understand the impact of not only this oil spill, but future breaches.

C-IMAGE’s Education and Outreach team through USF’s College of Marine Science is working with elementary, middle and high schools through hosting a Teacher at Sea program where teachers can instruct their classrooms remotely from research vessels while engaging students in the process of conducting ocean research. Getting the message out about our research is important; we produced two podcasts with Mind Open Media that are publicly distributed and have more coming as our research progresses. We are also partnering up with the Pier Aquarium to produce an oil spill module for the “Secrets of the Sea” exhibit while participating in the St. Pete Science Festival.

Some of our College’s faculty members are also active in another GoMRI funded consortium, Deep-C , hosted by Florida State University.

Some C-IMAGE attributed publications:

Surface evolution of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill patch: Combined effects of circulation and wind-induced drift

Matthieu Le Hénaff, Vassiliki H. Kourafalou, Claire B. Paris, Judith Helgers, Zachary M. Aman, Patrick J. Hogan, and Ashwanth Srinivasan Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (13), 7267-7273

Detection of anomalous particles from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill using the SIPPER3 underwater imaging platform

Sergiy Fefilatyev,Kurt Kramer,Lawrence O. Hall,Dmitry B. Goldgof, Rangachar Kasturi,Andrew Remsen,Kendra Daly In proceedings of 2011 IEEE 11th International Conference on Data Mining Workshops (ICDMW), Vancouver, BC, Canada, December 11, 2011.

Label-noise reduction with support vector machines

Sergiy Fefilatyev, Matthew Shreve, Kurt Kramer, Lawrence Hall, Dimitry Goldgof, Rangachar Kasturi, Kendra Daly, Andrew Remsen, Horst Bunk International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR), 2012 21st, pp.3504-3508, 11-15 November 2012.

Evolution of the Macondo well blowout: Simulating the effects of the circulation and synthetic dispersants on the subsea oil transport

Claire B.Paris, Matthieu Le Henaff, Zachary M. Aman, Ajit Subramaniam, Judith Helgers, Dong-Ping Wang, Vassiliki H. Kourafalou, and Ashwanth Srinivasan Environmental Science and Technology 201246(24), 13293-13302.

Sand bottom microalgal production and benthic nutrient fluxes on the northeastern Gulf of Mexico nearshore shelf

J. G. Allison, M. E. Wagner, M. McAllister, A. K. J. Ren, R. A. Snyder Gulf and Caribbean Research 201325.

Enhancing the ocean observing system to meet restoration challenges in the Gulf of Mexico

S. A. Murawski, W.T. Hogarth Oceanography 2013 26(1),10–16.

As C-IMAGE turns the corner on 2013, our researchers have been pushing the science forward, making great strides in answering some of the very important questions about the oil spill budget and impacts of the oil and the dispersant. Here are some important milesontes:

  1. In a modeling study led by Dr. Claire Paris of the University of Miami, researchers found that the amount oil reaching the sea surface may have been the same independent of dispersant application. Based on fundamental oil droplet size models, the authors estimate that the turbulent discharge of oil resulted in naturally small droplets contributing to the observed deep intrusion.
  2. The instrumentation to study biodegradation of oil and oil/dispersant mixtures at high pressures is up and running at the Technical University of Hamburg. Microbial samples with oil from the Gulf of Mexico are brought to high pressures in closed chambers and oxygen consumption is measured as a proxy for microbial activity. Initial results indicate high pressure increases biodegradation rates slightly. More experiments are ongoing.
  3. In an attempt to close the oil budget from the blowout, the latest estimates are that about 20% of the oil is unaccounted for. Researchers in C-IMAGE and other GoMRI funded consortia are working together to investigate the mechanisms that contribute to this 20% making its way to the seafloor, becoming part of the Gulf’s sedimentary record. The processes of the oil and dispersant interacting with particles in the water column and the mechanisms transporting this material to the seafloor require the marriage of lab and field work conducted at USF and many of our partner sites.
  4. The short and long term impacts of the oil on many fish species in the Gulf is being tackled at USF with assistance from Mote Marine Laboratory and the University of South Alabama. Hundreds of liver, blood, bile, and muscle samples from fish are analyzed for PAH exposure and stable isotope analysis and otoliths for age and growth studies. There are elevated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in fish liver samples collected to the south and east of the DWH spill and to the north and east on the west Florida shelf. PAHs are the most toxic and potentially carcinogenic substances in cruise oil. These PAH levels are above the baseline for this region. Liver PAH composition of red snapper is likely picking up the chemical signature of the oil out of the Macondo Well. Impacts on important economic species such as red snapper and tilefish are being assessed.


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Scientists Venture to the Southern Ocean (Antarctic) to Study the Effects of Ocean Acidification…

antarctic ocean

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ANAMAR’s Vice-President, Terence Cake, is accepted to volunteer for “Water for People” in India

Terry Cake has been accepted to participate in a volunteer assignment in India with World Water Corps, the arm of Water for People ( that monitors the work that happens in the field. Water for People began working in India in 1996 and supports the development of water systems, sanitation facilities, and hygiene education programs across West Bengal. Their current program, Everyone Forever, is an effort to involve community leaders and local entrepreneurs to improve and sustain the sanitation supply chain to provide a sustainable solution to water and sanitation issues in the targeted districts and municipalities. Terry will be part of an all-volunteer team consisting of two engineers and two social scientists who will travel to the Sundarban area on the coast of the Bengal Sea south of Kolkata. The Sundarbans are the world’s largest mangrove forest, spanning the border of India and Bangladesh. This area contains numerous small municipalities and communities, many of which are isolated on remote islands. A typical water supply point in the area consists of a hand-operated pump where residents fill containers with water to be carried back to their homes. Sanitation is typically provided by “pit privy” style latrines. The team’s goal will be to identify key strengths and weaknesses of the system that has been established by the Everyone Forever effort and to identify remedies for the gaps and explore other suitable alternatives that can be promoted. This monitoring system is called Field Level Operations Watch (FLOW), which is a system to collect, manage, analyze, and display geographically referenced monitoring and evaluation data. An application custom-built for Android-based smart phones will be used to collect information about the individual sanitation features, including GPS coordinates, a photo of the installation, reliability as reported by its users, and the conditions observed at the time of the visit. The team will compile these data and upload them to the FLOW website ( at the end of each day. After spending a week visiting the various communities, the team will evaluate all the collected data and prepare a report of their findings and suggestions.

 India woman bucket of water

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Springs Celebration/Chili Cookoff


The 6th annual Springs Celebration and Chili Cookoff will be held Saturday, 3/23 at O'Leno State Park.  A canned food donation gets you in the gate.  Music, dance troupes, exhibits, springs awareness, and chili!

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Public Meeting - RESTORE Act (Deepwater Horizon)

DEP and FWC will co-host a meeting Wednesday, March 13, 2013 to gather public input for project ideas leveraging the funds from the RESTORE Act.  The RESTORE Act, which was passed by Congress on June 29, 2012 and signed into law on July 6, 2012 by the President, provides a vehicle for Clean Water Act civil and administrative penalties from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Meeting details below..

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Research Institute
100 Eighth Ave. SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
6:00 p.m. EST Open House / Registration
6:30 – 9:00 p.m. EST Meeting & Public Comment

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