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As Florida enters Phase 1 of Gov. Ron DeSantis' plans to reopen the state, we take a look back at the last few weeks with scenes from around the Tampa Bay region as residents try to balance everyday life with safer-at-home orders.

oysters
Jessica Meszaros / WUSF

Welcome to season two of The Zest podcast! We're starting off with a trip to Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve, at the mouth of Tampa Bay, to sample some Florida oysters. WUSF reporter Jessica Meszaros takes a boat ride with Brian Rosseger, owner of Lost Coast Oyster Company, to his floating oyster farm. "There is an agricultural revolution that's happening right now," Rosseger says. "And it's happening in the oceans."


Some have called Gasparilla "Mardi Gras without the Catholicism," and what would either of those celebrations be without an abundance of beads?

But long after the floats are packed and the krewes have gone home - the plastic trinkets are still there.

A new study suggests hope could be an important tool in combating climate change in Tampa Bay.

Researchers examine a clear microplastic thread under the microscope
Kinsley McEachern

A recent joint study conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Eckerd College found over four billion plankton-sized particles of plastic floating in the waters of Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Sea levels locally may be rising more quickly than had been anticipated. The estimates for Tampa Bay have just gone up.

Scientists monitoring Tampa Bay have updated the most conservative estimate for the expected rise in the bay during this century. That means they're no longer considering the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's prediction of a 2-foot rise. The conservative estimate now is from three to 3 1/2 feet above current sea levels.

Rain
Wikimedia Commons

If you felt like you’ve pulled out your umbrella more than usual in July, it’s not just your imagination.

The Tampa Bay area was drenched by more rain than usual last month.

Lightning across the sky.
Wikimedia Commons

On Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m., lifeguards along Clearwater Beach blew their whistles, warning beach goers that a storm was quickly approaching.

The lifeguards then closed the water and left the beach.

Twelve minutes later, lightning struck a man, leaving him and seven others nearby injured.

 Howard Franklin Bridge over Old Tampa Bay with algae bloom in the bay Algae bloom in Old Tampa Bay, north of Howard Frankland Bridge, August 2011.
Courtesy Southwest Florida Water Management District

By Steve Newborn

The state of Tampa Bay report comes out every three years, and the latest one shows the water body is in pretty good shape. It wasn't too long ago that pollution killed a lot of life in the bay.

The report says the bay is continuing its upswing, both in the clarity of the water and its numbers of fish and oysters. Ed Sherwood, executive director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, says sea grasses are nearly double the amount found in the 1970s.

Citrus County Sheriff's Office / Twitter

Hurricane Michael's effects are being felt in the Tampa Bay region. WUSF's Jessica Meszaros spoke with Spectrum Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay about areas of concern.

Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

The annual Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is back in town until October 13th. It will feature over 63 films from 17 countries, and showcase major names like Molly Shannon, Matt Smith and Paul Rudd.

Roberto Roldan

Many Puerto Rican’s lost everything when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017. Tens of thousands of people made the decision to take what belongings they had left and travel to the mainland. Many have started new lives in Central and South Florida. These new Floridians already have had significant influence on political races, the public school system and affordable housing.

This week on Florida Matters, we'll hear the stories of two people who chose to make the Tampa Bay area their new home:

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

State Representative Ross Spano of Brandon will be the Republican candidate running to replace retiring U.S. Representative Dennis Ross.

Courtesy of Its Time Tampa Bay

Transportation planners in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties have launched a survey for residents to choose which sort of traffic-alleviating options they want most.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

On a research farm in southern Hillsborough County, Simon Bollin pulls a hops flower down off of a vine, crushes it, and takes a whiff.

“This one isn’t quite ripe yet, and it’s a little wet, so it smells more like green grass than it does beer,” he said. “Ideally, it could be spicy, it could be citrusy, it could be earthy, any number of things.”

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

The overriding message at the Tampa Bay Transit Forum on Friday was that it's finally time for action on mass transportation.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Housing advocates are calling on local politicians to make more funding for affordable housing a priority in the 2018 elections.

Authorities say they have identified the body found in Tampa Bay as that of a fisherman who went missing.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa Bay area residents witnessed an unusual sight ahead of Hurricane Irma’s arrival Sunday.

In a case of a kind of reverse storm surge, Hillsborough Bay at Bayshore Boulevard was one of many places in Florida that experienced temporary lowered water levels in the hours leading up to the hurricane.

Wikimedia Commons

As monster Hurricane Irma buzz-sawed its way up Florida's Gulf Coast, it looked for several hours like the heavily populated Tampa Bay area could face catastrophic wind damage and flooding from the first major storm to roar ashore there in 96 years.

Too much water is typically the problem when storms blow through Tampa Bay. But for a few brief hours Sunday, the bay's fortunes were reversed as Hurricane Irma's counterclockwise winds blew the water out.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Hurricane Irma's leading edges whipped palm trees and kicked up the surf as the storm spun toward Florida with 120 mph winds Saturday on a projected new track that could put Tampa — not Miami — in the crosshairs.

Tampa has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane in nearly a century.

Florida Realtors Association

A new report says two Florida housing markets are in the top 10 for where future homebuyers are likely to make purchases.

Conviction Upheld In Tampa Bay Terror Plot

Aug 21, 2017
Flickr

A federal appeals court Friday upheld the conviction and 40-year prison sentence of a man convicted in a plot to carry out terror attacks in the Tampa Bay area as “payback” for the death of Osama bin Laden.

Senator Wants To Boost Pollution Notification

Jan 27, 2017

After an uproar about two high-profile pollution incidents, a key Senate Republican filed a proposal Thursday aimed at better notifying the public when pollution occurs.

Eight of the ten most dangerous places in the U.S. to be a pedestrian are in Florida, according to a study released today.

Some of the most dangerous metro areas for walkers are Fort Myers, Orlando, and Jacksonville, Fla., as well as Jackson, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn.

Duncan Ross / Flickr

The total value of the Tampa Bay area's housing stock soared 10.3 percent in 2016, nearly twice as much than the nation as a whole, according to a new report from Zillow.

A researcher who tested the water around St. Petersburg for antibiotic resistant bacteria after the city released sewage into Tampa Bay didn't find any.

  The Hillsborough County Health Department issued health advisories for three public beaches today.

Elevated levels of bacteria were found in the water at Simmons Park, Picnic Island and Davis Island.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

The upcoming end of the school year was the perfect reason for students from USF St. Petersburg and Fairmount Park Elementary School to hit Tampa Bay recently.

The day brought together students from USFSP’s College of Education and Outdoor Leadership Program and about a dozen high-performing fifth graders from the St. Petersburg-based school.

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