Bay Postscript Summer/Fall 2020

TBEP Launches New Website

2025 Strategic Plan Update

Bay Mini-Grants Accepting Applications

Open Science Paper Published in PeerJ

Trash-Free Waters Grant in Tampa Bay
Introducing TBEP's New Website!
The TBEP staff is pleased to announce the official launch of its new and improved website! Thanks to patience and expertise of our excellent development team Tangram3DS, our design process took into consideration the most important online services and content we provide to our various audiences.

We won’t ruin the surprise for you, but before you head over to check it out, make sure to stop by these pages: 

  • Education page, featuring content filters designed to serve up products for educators and environmentalists of any level. 
  • Library, housing decades of publications for your reference. 
  • Board & Committees, a section to learn about our various committees, with up-to-date meeting materials and upcoming event reminders. 
  • Get a Tarpon Tag, a one-stop shop (well, you still have to go to the DMV) for the license plate that keeps Tampa Bay on the road to recovery. Tag up Today!
  • Restoration and Research, a page showcasing our grants, how/when to apply and a few project spotlights.
  • What Guides Us, dedicated to the important guiding documents that keep us moving in the right direction. 
  • Data Visualization, a portal for the clean representation of data, ensuring that the region’s ongoing data collection efforts and trusted scientific research are transparent, reproducible, and discoverable through an open-science framework. 

Make sure to stop by often as we continue to add content to our new site and spotlight the Program’s important updates and opportunities to get involved!
2025 Strategic Plan Update
We are excited to introduce our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan! You’ve probably heard us talk about the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) before, but you may not be as familiar with our Strategic Plan. While the CCMP speaks to WHAT the Tampa Bay Estuary Program does, our Strategic Plan tackles the question of HOW we do it. After a series of facilitated interviews and workshops with our staff and management conference members, we’ve developed a tactical road map to maximize our impact on Tampa Bay recovery over the coming years. 

The plan is centered on five cross-cutting strategies designed to support the achievement of our Program priorities, which include:

  • Applying open science principles to grow TBEP’s established role as a source of trusted, unbiased and actionable science for the Tampa Bay estuary. 
  • Harnessing the power of storytelling to inspire behavior change and lasting awareness of the Tampa Bay estuary.
  • And more, including enhancing Partner Support, being a Funding Catalyst for environmental initiatives, and improving Internal Support. View them HERE.

Few documents serve to distill the intentions behind our Program’s work and how we do it as effectively as the Strategic Plan. Whether you’re a partner in our efforts or a concerned Tampa Bay citizen, we encourage you to take a look to see what we’ve got in store for bay restoration and management.

Apply Now for a Bay Mini-Grant!
It’s Bay Mini-Grant season and TBEP is currently accepting grant applications from local citizen groups and organizations for projects that help to protect or restore Tampa Bay while involving the local community. In past years, we’ve seen some excellent projects involving elements of education, habitat restoration and public engagement. This year we’re paying special attention to projects that incorporate emerging contaminants and/or public involvement. 

Each individual grant has an award limit of $5,000 and the deadline to submit is September 25th, 2020. For more information, please contact TBEP’s Public Outreach Specialist Sheila Scolaro at or visit our updated website. Also, make sure to check out our webinar for helpful tips and tricks as you begin curating your application.
Open Science Paper Published in PeerJ
TBEP has recently been educating partners and stakeholders on open science practices that can help us conduct better science in less time. A new paper published by TBEP Program Scientist Dr. Marcus Beck and co-authors has been published in PeerJ that describes the importance of open science in bioassessment applications. Dr. Beck completed this paper during his previous employment with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Bioassessment is the use of biological organisms to infer the health or status of the environment, such as the diversity or abundance of seagrassess as an indicator of bay health. The paper describes core open science concepts that have recently been adopted in the ecological sciences and emphasizes how adoption can benefit bioassessment and proactive applications that inform environmental management. Technical, sociocultural, and institutional challenges for adopting open science in applied management settings are also discussed. The paper is open access and available to view through the link below. 

Questions can be directed to Dr. Marcus Beck,
TBEP Receives EPA's Trash-Free Waters Grant

With support from the EPA’s Trash-Free Waters Initiative, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program began planning its implementation of a 3-year marine debris collection, reporting and removal effort within the Tampa Bay watershed. Utilizing litter collection devices like Watergoats, Sea Bins and Litter Gitters, TBEP and the project’s partners intend to improve the Bay’s marine debris problem while piecing together a clear picture of its source. 

Marine debris (human-generated trash that ends up in our waterways) is a global problem that affects everyone. From consumer plastics and derelict fishing gear to textiles and yellow duck bath toys, seemingly countless pieces of debris enter the earth's marine environments everyday. Once there, they negatively impact wildlife, destroy habitats, reduce the economic and recreational value of our coastal cities and assist in the spread of pollutants and viruses. 

Utilizing the EPA’s Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol (ETAP), the project team will monitor and report on the debris collected, shedding light on the Bay’s most common pieces of litter and its sources while informing future marine debris outreach initiatives. 

Our partners in this effort include Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and Osprey Initiative, LLC. Feel free to reach out to TBEP’s Communication & Outreach Coordinator Joe Whalen with questions at
News and Opportunities from around the Bay
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St. Pete Science Fest Goes Virtual in 2020

Adapting is the name of the game this year and the St. Pete Science Fest is embracing it in style with their fully virtual festival set for October 17th, 2020. Tune in for online demonstrations, unique behind-the-scenes tours and videos for hundreds of elementary students to experience the wonder of STEAM.
Benthic Monitoring Tire Finds

Check out this tire EPCHC staff found while conducting benthic monitoring in Tampa Bay. In the past, tires were used to create artificial reefs in the bay. Now, researchers are working to better understand how this marine debris simultaneously provides unique habitat while also potentially releasing microplastics and toxic chemicals into bay waters.
Manatee County Ballot Initiative for Land Acquisition Funding

The “Water Quality, Fish and Wildlife Habitat Preservation and Parks” funding measure was added to the Manatee County general election ballot on July 28, 2020, providing Manatee County residents an opportunity to support this initiative in the November 3rd general election. The measure would provide dedicated county funding for water quality protection, natural areas preservation and parks in Manatee County and is consistent with actions and activities identified in our 2017 CCMP Update.

More information on this referendum can be found HERE
133 Scallops Found in the 2020 DIY Great Bay Scallop Search

Thank you to the 36 teams who participated in the 2020 DIY Great Bay Scallop Search! Volunteer boaters and kayakers snorkeled in Lower Tampa Bay to find a grand total of 133 scallops. This year's number is the highest that we've seen since 2015 despite the torrential rains prior to the event which affected the total count. Additionally many participants commented on poor visibility and seeing many fresh half shells of recently expired scallops.

Learn more by visiting Tampa Bay Watch's website.
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About the Tampa Bay Estuary Program

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is an intergovernmental partnership dedicated to restoring and protecting Tampa Bay, Florida's largest open-water estuary. The TBEP is one of 28 "Estuaries of National Significance" designated by Congress.
Our Policy Board is comprised of representatives from Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties; the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater; the Southwest Florida Water Management District; the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  
Be Floridian: Summer-Safe Products

Tips on alternative fertilizer products for Florida lawns and gardens
that are preferable during the summer rainy season.

Produced by Joe Whalen
Communication & Outreach Coordinator
Tampa Bay Estuary Program