Environment

Jim Reid / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wildlife officials are investigating a video of a man doing a cannonball onto two manatees.

The disturbing footage was recently uploaded to Facebook and YouTube. On Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will lead a joint investigation of the incident with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Manatees are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Violators face up to one year in prison and/or $100,000 in fines.

Archipelago Marine Research Ltd.

Mote Marine Laboratory announced it has received a $150,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to establish the first center for electronic monitoring of commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. Mote officials say it's a first step toward gathering more scientifically sound data to inform fisheries management in the entire Gulf.

Oil Industry Eyes South Florida Again

May 20, 2013

Fueled by lofty oil prices, more efficient drilling techniques and the promise of untapped but also largely unproven reservoirs, at least a half-dozen companies plan to expand exploration across Southwest Florida. They’ve quietly spent between $10 million and $20 million over the last few years, by the estimate of one industry executive, to buy mineral rights covering massive swaths of Collier, Lee and Hendry counties. Now, drilling is picking up, with companies reviving long-abandoned fields and low-producing wells in and bordering the Big Cypress National Preserve, the historic heart of oil operations that go back 70 years. They also aim to poke prospecting “wild cat” wells into new areas like a tomato farm in Immokalee and the suburban outskirts of Naples.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

It's not every day that you see a bear in a tree in West Tampa.

But today was one of those days for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

At about 8:30 the HCSO was asking local TV stations to pull their helicopters back from the site in the Egypt Lake area, because they were "scaring the bear."

Courtesy Jeff Klinkenberg

Imagine a job that sends you out onto the road to find the most interesting stories in the state.

Stories about wild places, like this one, and people of all sorts.

But Tampa Bay Times writer Jeff Klinkenberg isn't fond of the notion that Florida is a bastion of weirdness.  He likes to say there is a "rich diversity" of stories, and he aims to tell some very interesting ones.

Busch Gardens Tampa

Who doesn't want to 'ooh' and 'aah' when a new baby is born? Busch Gardens can multiply that by three, because they are welcoming a trio endangered Malayan tiger babies.

According to a release from Busch Gardens Tampa, only an estimated 500 such tigers still exist in the wild.  And these births are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

Rich and Laura Howard of Lutz told WFLA.com their whale tale.

The two were diving in Mexico on a trip to celebrate their 20th anniversary.  And they ended up capturing some awesome video of killer whales surfing in the wake of the small diving boat.

As Rich Howard says, "The actual video doesn't do it justice."

In state legislatures around the country, lawmakers are debating important subjects — education reform, election laws, gun control and abortion. But in Florida, one of the hottest issues to come before the Legislature this term involves cats.

There, lawmakers are considering a contentious bill that would offer legal protection to groups that trap, neuter and return feral cats to their colonies.

An Alternative To Shelters

Dalia Colon / WUSF

Saturday, April 20, marks the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. The accident killed 11 workers and released nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But efforts to restore the gulf are far from over.

A new report by the federal Oil Spill Commission gives Congress a D-plus for its handling of the ongoing cleanup.

Giant African land snails have invaded Florida and pose a "major threat" to the state's crops, according to Mark Fagan, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture. "We're producing food that the nation depends on ... [and this snail] eats 500 different plants, including pretty much everything that grows in Florida," Fagan said. Experts say the snails were likely smuggled into the United States as pets or for religious uses. They're thriving in Florida, where the hot, humid climate closely resembles that of their native Nigeria.

African Land Snails were first spotted in Florida in 2011, and their numbers are growing, Reuters reports. More than 1,000 are being caught each week in Miami-Dade County and more will continue to emerge from hibernation in the coming weeks. The snails can gnaw through stucco and plastic, and attack "over 500 known species of plants ... pretty much anything that's in their path and green," Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, told Reuters.

Before Disney World, Silver Springs in Central Florida was for decades one of the state's most popular tourist destinations.

Even if you've never visited Silver Springs, you might have seen it. The 1960s television show Sea Hunt was filmed here, as were countless movies, including Tarzan and Creature From the Black Lagoon.

The crystal clear water of Silver Springs made it invaluable to Hollywood. Guy Marwick, the founder of the Silver River Museum, says it drew more than 1 million visitors a year.

floridawaterlandlegacy.org

Florida’s Water and Land Legacy campaign is one step closer to getting a constitutional amendment to fund the Florida Forever land preservation program.

On Thursday, the group announced that it had collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for review by the Florida Supreme Court. A proposed amendment is eligible for state Supreme Court review when its backers collect 10 percent of the total 683,149 signatures required—or 68,314 John Hancocks.

South Florida Information Access / U.S. Geological Survey

The sinkhole that opened up under a Seffner man’s bedroom killing him and leading to the home’s demolition has claimed two more victims.

Engineering consultants, hired by Hillsborough County, have examined two neighboring houses and concluded the soil under their foundations is unstable so those structures are susceptible to sinkholes as well.

Additionally, the experts determined that fixing the unstable ground would cost more than 50 percent of the homes’ value.

Larry Richardson / fws.gov

When the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service quietly turned over its authority to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last year, Florida became the only state with the power to green-light activities that harm its most vulnerable species without federal review.

The Epoch Times

Let's face it, mulching can be a tedious job. So anything that breaks it up can be a welcome sight. 

But one Florida man got more than he bargained for in one of his bags of mulch. A baby squirrel.

According to The Epoch Times, the man goes by the name Nadtacular on Reddit.

For the third time in less than a month, a possible sinkhole has developed in Seffner. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue found soft soil around the home, and a sampling crew will test the area Wednesday.

New Case in EEE Mosquito Virus in Hillsborough County

Mar 25, 2013
Courtesy of Purdue University

Hillsborough County is seeing its first mosquito borne Eastern equine encephalitis case in three years.

The Hillsborough County Health Department says one person was infected with the virus in the northwest part of the county earlier this month. It says that person is recovering well.

The $81 million bridge, scheduled to open to daily traffic in a few weeks, ranks among the most significant Everglades projects to date. It sets the stage for the first breach later this year of a historic road that has been far more than just a lime rock-and-asphalt barrier to reviving the shrunken, struggling River of Grass. The effort to get more water under the bumpy two-lane black top, originally launched by Congress in 1989, has encapsulated all the numbing delays, doubts and disputes that have dogged the broader plans to restore the Everglades.

Unlucky No. 7: 7th Panther Death this Year

Mar 18, 2013

The seventh panther to die this year was hit by a vehicle and was found on Saturday in South Florida.

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