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Environment

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.

 The state of Florida and the U.S. Department of Environmental Regulation have come to an agreement today on "numeric criteria" that is aimed at stemming the degradation of Florida's springs, rivers and waterways because of high levels of nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen.

FWC

You may have seen them on the beach, getting lovey-dovey in broad daylight. Perhaps you did your best to look away.

But we’re not talking about college kids having a spring break fling.

We’re talking about horseshoe crabs.

A possible sinkhole caused extensive cracking at a Palm Harbor home Tuesday morning, according to Fire Rescue. Those inside the home were evacuated. The incident was first reported around 9 a.m. at 114 Harbor Drive. According to a statement from Palm Harbor Fire Rescue, "initial reports show extensive cracking on the interior and exterior of the home."

This is a picture of Tony Little:

And now, so is this:

Before you call your optometrist, allow us to explain.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., recently celebrated the birth of an extremely rare dama gazelle. The creature is considered a critically endangered specias; only a few hundred of the creatures live in the wild of Chad, Niger and Mali. So this was a big deal.

And here's where things get really interesting, as demonstrated by this expert from a press release we received:

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