News & Updates
September 2021 | Issue 3
"E Pluribus Unum": Out of Many, One
Greetings! As the newly elected President of the Florida Ocean Alliance, I thank you for taking time out of your day to get informed about the latest ocean news. This is an exciting time to be engaged at any level in ocean conservation, science, and policy – whether volunteering at a local beach cleanup, attending a webinar about sea-level rise, or voting as an informed citizen to protect fragile marine habitat – your contribution matters. There has never been a more important moment in our lifetime to trust science, which is leading the charge out of a global pandemic and preparing civilization for climate change.
The Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development has just begun, and as President and CEO of Port Tampa Bay, I know building resilient infrastructure will safeguard the marine industry against a changing shoreline, warmer waters, and intense storms. Infrastructure is being redefined to include living shorelines, marine protected areas, and flood mitigation strategies. An investment in infrastructure is an investment in a resilient blue economy, which ultimately affects all aspects of the Florida Salt Life we enjoy.
From my lifelong advocacy work in maritime commerce, I believe innovation stems from diversity, and when we work together for the common good of all, genius is possible. I look forward to this journey with the dynamic team at Florida Ocean Alliance and finding innovative solutions to the complex marine problems facing Florida. I hope you enjoy this issue and subscribe to stay up to date with the Florida Ocean News

A. Paul Anderson
FOA President
Florida Ocean Alliance State Activity
Florida Ocean Alliance annual Strategy Meeting held on August 2, 2021, at the Florida Institute of Oceanography
Call to Action: Be Innovative When Planning Resilient Infrastructure
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from disasters and adapt to future conditions of a changing environment. With rising sea levels and storm intensities, Florida has arrived at a crossroads on fortifying current infrastructure—be innovative or be left behind. Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida State legislator have chosen the former by establishing the Resilient Florida Grant Program within the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), which will yield the most significant investment in Florida’s history to prepare communities for the impacts of climate change (s. 380.093, F.S.). FDEP has put together a roadmap for grant applicants and a sea-level impact projection (SLIP) tool to see the potential effect of sea-level rise and other coastal flooding. The Resilient Florida Grant Portal includes a selection of grants available to counties, municipalities, water management districts, flood control districts, and regional resilience entities. To effectively address the impacts of flooding and sea-level rise that the state faces, eligible applicants may receive funding assistance to analyze and plan for critical asset vulnerabilities (e.g., transportation assets: evacuation routes, ports, marinas, and rail; facility assets: stormwater treatment, electricity production, community, and emergency; and natural assets: conservation lands, shorelines, wetlands), as well as implement projects for infrastructure adaptation and flooding mitigation.
Communities can follow this roadmap of steps to create an adaptation plan.
In the News
"Code red" UN Scientists Warn of Worsening Global Warming

Earth is getting so hot that temperatures in about a decade will probably blow past a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent, according to a report released Monday that the United Nations called a "code red for humanity."

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Rick Spinrad Confirmed by Senate as New Head of NOAA

The Senate confirmed Rick Spinrad as the next leader of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday. Spinrad, an ocean scientist nominated by President Biden to lead NOAA on April 22, becomes the 11th administrator in the...

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FL Coastal Wetlands Are Our Best Hurricane Protection

While climate change did not create damaging weather and wildfires, it has demonstrably made them more extreme and punishing. There is a credible foreboding among many Floridians as we continue through the 2021 hurricane season. Since 1851, 120...

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Kelly Skidmore Wants Florida to Lead on Blue Economy

Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore is pushing for more investment and focus on the so-called "blue economy" in Florida, arguing the state should emerge as a worldwide leader in new technologies.

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Take Action to Restore Our Coastlines

Take Action to Restore Our Coastlines How to Use this Toolkit Watch 90-Second Video Are you concerned about an issue affecting your local coast or shoreline? Would you like to act but don't know how? Get started with the Coastal Restoration Toolkit.

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Sea Change: Using Citizen Science to Inform Fisheries

Increasing costs are challenging the capacity for resource management agencies to keep up with mounting needs for robust data about fish populations and their habitats. Furthermore, trust among scientists, government agencies, and the public is...

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Congress & Executive Branch News
A Paradigm Shift Toward Pre-disaster Investments
Chronic underinvestment in American infrastructure has impacted its resilience, leaving Americans vulnerable to increased frequency, duration, and severity of extreme weather. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced pre-disaster funding opportunities to help states and communities prepare for major disasters that are costing lives and livelihoods and devastating local communities and businesses. These new funding opportunities support the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, which includes historic investments to make U.S. aging infrastructure more resilient in the face of increasingly severe floods, wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes. These programs will allow communities, including underserved communities, to apply for nearly $5 billion to increase their preparedness in advance of climate-related extreme weather disasters and improve their ability to recover after these events. As climate catastrophes become more common, as in the extreme rainfall event last July in western Europe, the time to act is now.
Investment in resilient infrastructure recently paid off for the Netherlands. Extreme rainfall claimed many lives in Germany and Belgium but left the Netherlands relatively unscathed due to the resilient infrastructure built there after devastating floods in the 1990s. This is a recent example of the return on investment the U.S. can expect after this Ocean Decade, where developing innovative solutions to complex problems is critical to paving a path through uncharted (flood) waters.

Like President Kennedy’s moonshot to land a human on the moon, the U.S. National Committee for the Ocean Decade asked the ocean science community to identify “ocean-shots” that will advance the nation’s understanding of the marine environment leaps and bounds. During a recent hearing by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Environment, Florida Ocean Alliance board member Dr. Michael Crosby of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium testified on the importance of better understanding our ocean, “Over 50% of the oxygen we breath comes from the oceans, not land. Therefore, a national ocean shot that prioritizes science-based solutions to address the most pressing challenges facing our oceans is absolutely vital to our continued existence.” Dr. Crosby specified six areas of marine science that urgently need science and technology development:
Florida Ocean Alliance Announcements
Port Tampa Bay’s Commitment
to Trash-Free Waters
Port Tampa Bay is deeply committed to environmental sustainability and natural resource protection. As one of the first ports in the nation with a dedicated environmental program, the port is proud of its environmental track record, which focuses on trash-free waters in our community. The port partners with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and other community members to preserve the health and cleanliness of Tampa Bay.
In 2018, the port’s Board of Commissioners signed a proclamation committing the entire organization to support the “Trash Free Waters Partnership.” The Trash Free Waters Program is a call to action to create sustainable communities, counteract behaviors and prevent activities that pose water quality issues and habitat concerns in Florida.
Port Tampa Bay’s focus on the Trash Free Waters campaign grew with the adoption of a Water Goat™, which sits at the mouth of a creek that historically delivered polluted water and debris into Tampa Bay. The Water Goat™ is made with a series of shallow nets and buoys to trap floatable debris before it enters the Bay. Last year the Water Goat™ removed over 2,000 pounds of floatable debris. 
Port Tampa Bay hosted their first-annual Great Port Clean-up in honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2021. During this inaugural event, port partners and other dedicated community volunteers safely remove trash and marine debris from several sites near the port. The event was a tremendous success! Led by Port Tampa Bay, some 342 volunteers from the port community removed over 19,000 pounds (9.6 tons) of debris from our local waters. While the majority of this debris originates from outside of the port, Port Tampa Bay is dedicated to doing its part to eliminate marine debris and support trash-free waters in our community.
Community members after a beach cleanup of Palmetto Beach.
Pensacola East Bay Oyster Habitat
Restoration Project
Construction of the Pensacola East Bay Oyster Habitat Restoration Project in East and Blackwater Bays in Santa Rosa County is underway! The restoration project is managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and funded by a $15 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. TNC lends science and conservation management expertise to the project, WSP provided pre- and post-construction monitoring, Jacobs is leading the engineering process, and CrowderGulf is constructing 33 individual reef structures. The reefs are constructed of limestone rock and oyster shell to maximize oyster settlement and growth—are being built along approximately 6.5 miles of shoreline.
The reefs will help restore oysters to the bays and benefit the oyster fishery, fish and other wildlife, water quality, and nearshore habitats. The project supports the new Oyster Fisheries and Habitat Management Plan for the Pensacola Bay System, developed by TNC and the community to improve the resilience and sustainability of the region’s oysters. The goal is to return oysters to where they thrived historically.

Oyster reefs are one of the planet’s most imperiled marine habitats—more than 85 percent of the world’s oyster reefs and those in most of Florida’s bays and estuaries have been lost. “Oysters and the reef habitat they form are vital for the health and well-being of our environment, economies, and communities throughout the Gulf of Mexico,” said Anne Birch, marine program manager for The Nature Conservancy in Florida and FOA board member.

The restoration reflects the long-term collaborative effort of diverse partners including the oyster fishing community and a technical working group of the Florida Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Division of Aquaculture, NFWF, NOAA, Santa Rosa County, Northwest Florida Water Management District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Eglin Air Force Base.

Want to learn more? Register to attend a Virtual Tour of the project by The Nature Conservancy and contractors working on the project at the upcoming Lunch and Learn sponsored by the Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program as part of National Estuaries Week. The event is on Sep 20th at 11:00 AM Central/12:00 PM Eastern. Be sure to register in advance.
Celebrating Momentum in Everglades Restoration
With its mission to restore and protect America’s Everglades, The Everglades Foundation and its supporters recently celebrated two particularly significant developments in restoring the precious ecosystem.
On July 29, The Everglades Foundation joined leaders from the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and others in completing the nearly 30-year restoration of the Kissimmee River. In the 1960s, the once meandering Kissimmee River was channeled and nearly halved in length. Immediately, the collapse of the ecosystem was evident with the loss of the bass fishery and the disappearance of birds like snowy egrets and white ibis that once filled the skies. Now, the Kissimmee River basin is meandering across the upper Everglades as nature intended, the fishery is returning, and the wading birds are coming back.
Replenishing Everglades National Park with clean freshwater
On August 3, The Everglades Foundation joined Governor Ron DeSantis and the South Florida Water Management District to celebrate the removal of the Old Tamiami Trail roadbed. Completed six months ahead of schedule, the project removed nearly six miles of roadbed to replenish Everglades National Park with clean freshwater. Florida’s Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) was built in the early 1900s to connect Tampa and Miami. Its construction effectively created a dam across the Everglades that disrupted the ecosystem’s delicate hydrology and historic southerly sheet water flow from Lake Okeechobee through the Central Everglades and into Florida Bay. Removing the roadbed opens the ability to send 220 billion gallons of water south to the Northeast Shark River Slough. This restoration is not only good news for the Everglades, but for the coastal estuaries, too, as sending more water south helps reduce harmful algae-causing discharges.
“Removing the Old Tamiami Trail roadbed is a critical step in helping us restore the flow of freshwater south into the Everglades and Florida Bay,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation. “For a long time, Florida held more groundbreakings than ribbon-cuttings, but under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and the South Florida Water Management District, we have been celebrating project completions that are making a real difference in our environment and our clean water economy.”
The completion of these significant restoration projects vividly illustrates that Everglades restoration works. The Everglades Foundation supports the crucial need for federal and state funding to complete the 68 critical projects of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
A Second Sargasso Sea Near Florida Coasts
The old gardening adage “Right Plant; Right Place” applies to algae too. Sargassum, a macroalgae, has always found its way to Florida’s beaches. But these have been relatively minor events, rogue rafts that escaped the oceanic gyre that creates the iconic Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean. More recently, Sargassum has begun arriving en masse on the shores of South Florida, fouling beaches, disrupting the coastal economy, and forcing public health advisories due to the hydrogen sulfide created by decomposition. This Sargassum comes not from the Sargasso Sea but from a breakaway mass that has begun to perpetuate itself in the vicinity of the Equatorial Current, off the northern coast of South America extending toward Africa – a new more ominous second Sargasso Sea, perhaps being fueled by excess nutrients. (Ironically, at the same time governments and researchers are battling this second sea, referred to as the world’s largest Harmful Algal Bloom, governments and researchers are exploring ways to protect the original Sargasso Sea – one of Sylvia Earle’s first “Hope Spots.”   
Researchers at Florida Sea Grant have been begun addressing Sargassum, both as it impacts the coastal environment and economy of Florida and as a regional issue in the wider Caribbean. Led by Florida Sea Grant affiliate Ashley Smyth, Assistant Professor in Biogeochemistry at the UF IFAS Tropical Research and Education Facility, a Sea Grant team is studying the chemical composition of the sargassum arriving on Florida’s shores to determine whether it is safe to repurpose as fertilizer for crops. Because the data is not available, and Sargassum is known to harbor arsenic, the nuisance seaweed is being transported to landfills at considerable expense. Smyth is receiving on-the-ground help from Shelley Krueger, Monroe County’s Sea Grant Extension Agent, and Vincent Encomio, who serves as the Sea Grant Agent for Florida’s Treasure Coast. More information on this project can be found here.
At the same time, Sea Grant Regional Specialized Agent for Water Resources Lisa Krimsky and Legal Specialist Tom Ankersen have been part of a Caribbean Regional Working Group looking at an international and regional approach to the issue and domestic legal impediments to such an approach. This project is facilitated by the National Sea Grant Law Center, the NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems, and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A & M. The working group had begun planning a Caribbean-wide sargassum summit when the pandemic hit. The initial work of the group is summarized in a fact sheet here, which is provided by the newly established UF Center for Coastal Solutions, which is also a new partner of the Florida Sea Grant.
Member Spotlight

Florida Tech is home to the serious seekers, the relentlessly curious, bold and driven scholars who learn best by doing. Our hands-on approach to education includes a cooperative education program, field research projects, capstone experiences, countless research opportunities and job and internship connections at major employers in marine sciences, technology, aviation/aerospace, defense, space and more.

Florida Tech is a private, fully accredited, coeducational, research-intensive, doctoral-granting university. As the only independent technological university in the Southeastern U.S., Florida Tech is committed to providing our culturally diverse student body a high-quality education in the sciences, engineering, technology, business, psychology, liberal arts, aviation and related disciplines that prepares them to enter the global workforce, seek further higher education opportunities and serve within their communities. Students and faculty at Florida Tech are tackling the hardest challenges and improving the world around us, from exploring how to combat biofouling and documenting the challenges facing Florida’s corals, to helping the world better understand sharks and bringing creativity to improving our environment.
We are located in sunny Melbourne, Florida, ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s top 5 places to live near the beach. In addition to its beautiful beaches and marine riches, the area is known for its high-tech industry, historic—yet eclectic—downtown, art scene, surf culture and proximity to Kennedy Space Center and Orlando-area attractions. We believe where you are helps make you what you are, and that’s why it’s nearly impossible to talk about Florida Tech without mentioning the university’s deep connection to the Space Coast waterways that inspire the character and cultivate the commerce of our community. Decades of engagement with marine environments like the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean have made Florida Tech a wave-maker in marine science, ocean engineering, oceanography, marine biology, and climate science. Our scientific research informs engineering innovation, which leads to positive change.
A. Paul Anderson
(FOA President)
Port Tampa Bay
Laura DiBella
(FOA Vice-President)
Florida Harbor Pilots Association
Richard Dodge, Ph.D.
(FOA Treasurer)
Nova Southeastern University
Jerry Sansom
(FOA Secretary)
Organized Fishermen of Florida
Anne Birch
The Nature Conservancy
James Cantonis
Armaly Sponge Company
Josh Carroll
Royal Caribbean Group
Michael P. Crosby, Ph.D.
Spencer Crowley
Duane E. De Freese, Ph.D.
Indian River Lagoon Council
FOA Executive Committee
Monty Graham, Ph.D.
Florida Institute of Oceanography
Kumar Mahadevan, Ph.D.
Florida Ocean Alliance,
Founding Member and
FOA Executive Committee
Jim McDuffie
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
Sherry Larkin, Ph.D.
Florida Sea Grant College Program
Denise McCafferty
Lloyd's Register
James F. Murley, Esq.
Miami-Dade County
Florida Ocean Alliance,
Founding Member and
FOA Executive Committee
Jackie Larson
Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association
David McDonald
McDonald, Miller, & Coleman LLC
FOA Executive Committee
Ellen Prager, Ph.D.
Earth2Ocean, Inc.
Phil Purcell
Marine Industries Association of South Florida
Robert Salonen, CEcD
Florida Institute of Technology
Megan Stolen
Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute
Jim Sullivan, Ph.D.
Florida Atlantic University- Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Matthew Upton
Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Svc.
Bradley Watson
The Everglades Foundation
Jeff Watters
The Ocean Conservancy
Glenn Wiltshire
Port Everglades
Julie Wraithmell
Audubon of Florida
Lenore Alpert, Ph.D.
(Executive Director, FOA)
The Florida Ocean Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, private-public partnership of private industry, trade, academic and environmental organizations promoting awareness and understanding of the ocean’s importance to the economy and environment of Florida.