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In The Florida Wilds
03-17-2013, 08:31 AM,
#1
4sweed Offline
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Rainbow  In The Florida Wilds
Welcome These observations came from living in Florida, and doing a few biological projects toward control of water-weeds.

I thought It would be interesting to share with you some of the facts and information about the Florida Everglades "sea of grass," areas of fresh water and saltwater plants and that contain both native plants and exotic non-native plants that interfere with the natural flow of water and make that water often unsuitable for fishing and swimming, drinking and boating, and uninhabitable for native fish.

First I will start with the various types of water-weeds that are endangering our natural resources, and the use of biological controls, that have been used in trying to control these plants. Later on I will continue on to speak about the exotic fish and reptiles, that are ruining the nature cycle of life in the waterways and low-lying areas of Florida.

In Florida, it was documented in 1967, that over 150 different species of water weeds were endangering the natural flow of water in the rivers and lakes, canals and wet lands of Florida. There were many problems caused by these weeds that were never imagined by the people who originally brought them into the area. Water in Florida, is used for crop irrigation and electrical power, domestic and industrial purposes, but the main function is the ecosystem and its delicate balance.

Different algae microscopic forms produce bad orders and odd taste to the water's, as well as, being toxic to fish. Dense growths of an filamentous algae, which are threadlike plants without roots, or leaves, or flowers reduce fish populations and plug up water systems. Submersed weeds which are rooted plants that grow mostly underwater are even more of a problem in recreational waters.

Next are the underwater, water weeds which are plants that root at the bottom and extend most of their foliage and seed heads above the water's surface. These weeds can block access to and from the open waters of lakes and rivers. They also restrict or prevent easy water-flow in canals and drainage ditches. Some amounts of these types of weeds are necessary for breeding places for mosquitoes and fish, turtles and frogs. The thickets of taller weeds provide nesting and roosting areas for birds and coverage and food for a variety of snakes.

However, when water weeds decay rapidly underwater, they use a lot of oxygen content and many fish die. Then the combination of dead fish and decaying plant life produces terrible odors. These decaying masses of vegetation give off hydrogen sulfide gas which has the wonderful smell of rotten eggs.
Sulfur and nitrogen compounds are produced naturally by the decay of organic matter in swamps and wetlands, intertidal areas and shallow waters of the ocean.

Many aquatic plants perform beneficial functions, by removing carbon dioxide from the water and adding dissolved oxygen that is necessary for life and production of fish and other aquatic animal life. Algae is a major source of food for many species of fish.

Although, some aquatic plants are a nuisance, they are also beneficial in other ways. Plants like wild celery and duck potato, water-meal and duck weed and water-lettuce provide valuable feed for ducks and geese, and many other water fowl and animals. So the control of water-weeds is complicated by the presence of beneficial plants being mixed with nuisance plants.

Do you have any thoughts about this discussion of water weeds? Do you have any comments or additions to the above information? Do you live in an area that has problems with over-growth of water plants in rivers and lakes?

Please feel free to add any helpful comments or questions to this new thread.
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03-17-2013, 07:44 PM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
Yes this has also happened in England, where alien species have completely taken over some natural lakes and streams. We also now have a problem with red-eared turtles in our ponds. These are pets that have been abandoned, because they have grown large or the children are no longer interested in caring for them. These turtles can be quite aggressive and they feed on the local wildlife.
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03-18-2013, 08:12 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-18-2013, 09:03 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
Thank you for sharing that information Rube, I never heard of red-eared turtles, but I can see the danger in having them take over lakes and streams if they are aggressive and as you say feed on local wildlife.
In our area we have snapping turtles, that can give a bad bite, but they are native to our area and as a general rule will leave you alone, if you leave them alone.

Hope you continue to follow along. Smile

It then needs to be decided as to which plants to protect and which plants to destroy. Some plants can be controlled by natural means by completely draining a lake or pond, or canal, by permitting the bottom to dry for several days, for this will kill some submersed and emersed weeds. Draining and drying, plus plowing or burning will eliminate cattails and other underwater plants.

In larger bodies of water where the above means are not feasible, lowering the water levels may provide similar control. Shading the bottom by applying black plastic for at least 3 weeks, early in the growing season will kill submerged weeds, algae and other water weeds.
Biological control can also be achieved by the use of grass carp. This experiment is being tested both by the Seminole Indian Tribe, on the reservations and by the Fish & Game Management on Lake Okeechobee and the Calossahattee River, and several canals.

Shallow lake areas can be cleaned with the use of dredges on boats which scrap large amounts of water weeds off the bottom and deposit them along the banks. However, these methods are slow and expensive, and often laborious. They provide only partial or temporary control.
Mechanical methods such as hand tools and cable drag-lines, and underwater cutters provide the means to control weeds without harmful effects to wildlife and fish, livestock and humans. But these methods often increase the spread of submerged weeds, due to cut vegetation being moved by water currents and wind action.

Control of water weeds by herbicides is quicker giving longer lasting results and less expensive. The sprayed weeds die and then decay slowly. The first consideration in selecting herbicides for controlling water weeds is to prevent oral toxicity to humans or other warm-blooded animals. The same applies to effects of spray on fish, or other aquatic animals. Some do not harm fish by the use of low concentrations, but the use of most herbicides for water weed control is regulated and restricted. Many are not allowed in water used for crop irrigation and drinking.

While certain mixtures will control plankton and algae, and filamentous algae, and these low concentrations do not injure bass or bluegills, they will however, kill trout. And while concentrations with copper sulfate measured at o.5 parts per million or 4.3 pounds of pentahydrate crystals per acre can be used in control of the above weeds, but only concentrations up to 4, are considered safe for humans in drinking water.

There is often an increase in the growth of water weeds caused by nutrients in sewage from farms and industrial wastes that rapidly reduces the usefulness and value of inland and off land water areas.
As water problems increase so does the fight against water weeds. It is necessary to maintain a continued supply of water, and this takes the help of federal and state and local agencies and all of mankind to prevent and control aquatic weeds.
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03-19-2013, 03:10 AM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
TYPES OF WATER WEEDS:

Water Lettuce (pistia stratiotes L.)
This plant resembles open heads of floating lettuce. It thrives best in still water or areas of minimal water flow, and is found in streams and wet ditches, canals and oxbows off main river channels. It grows as a free floating plant, and large clumps of water lettuce can impede water flow and boat traffic. Benifit: Provides nesting areas.

Duckweed (Lemna minor L.)
Found in swamps and lakes, canals and ponds, and roadside ditches. Large masses of this plant can impede boat travel and the growth of desirable plants. Benifit: Source of food for waterfowl.

Alligator Weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides)
Exotic plant native to South America. Found in wide ranges of water conditions and grows among other aquatic weed species. Dense mats can block boat traffic and impede water flow.

Water Spinach (Ipomoea aquatica fosh)
Called the aquatic morning-glory. A herbaceous perennial aquatic vine with long hollow stems that float on the water surface. Found in flooded lowland areas and swamps, roadside ditches and stagnant streams, and lakes. Can cover entire surfaces of bodies of water creating navigational and recreational problems. The state of Florida, prohibits the importation and transportation and cultivation of this species. Benifit: Leaves and stems are eatten by wild hogs and deer, and rodents.

Water-Shield (Brasenia schreberi)
Known as the dollar bonnet. It is found in acid ponds and lakes, shallow water areas. Occasionally dense masses impair boat travel. Benifit: Wildlife eat the seeds and leaves, and underwater plant.

Fragrant Waterlily (Nymphaea odorata) & (Castalia odorata)
Found in ponds and lakes, streams and along edges of riverbanks. Mass growth can cause problems of stream flow and impede boat traffic. Benifit: Important waterfowl food source, leaves and stems eaten by deer and wood ducks and rodents.

Bog Moss (Mayaca fluviatilis)
Can be emersed or submersed aquatic plant. Found in wet peat and fresh water areas, such as streams and ponds, lakes and canals. No real value to wildlife.

Illinosis Pond Weed (Potamogeton illinoensis)
Submersed aquatic plant. Found in streams and rivers, ponds and lakes, and canals. Mass growth can cause water flow problems and impede boat traffic. Benifit: Important water fowl food source.

Hydrilla (Florida elodea)
Found in rivers and streams, ponds and canals. Mass growth is common due to abilities of the plant to grow in deeper and darker waters than most native vegetation. Greatly interfers with fisheries and water flow and boat traffic. Benifit: Eaten by diving ducks and coots, which consume tubers and vegetative parts.

Water Hyacintn (Eichhornia Crassipes solms)
Found all over the wetlands. Causes severe enviromental and economic problems, due to their thick masses of production that crowd out desirable plants. Only Benifit: Provide nesting habitat.
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03-20-2013, 03:27 AM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
Speaking of the Water Hyacinth's, I thought it would be a good idea to show an example of when and from where, and how this exotic water weed came to Florida.

At the Cotton States Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1884, the lavender flowers of the water hyacinths were given away as souvenirs. Having been imported especially for the fair from the Orinoco River in Venezuela, by a group of exhibitors traveling through South America, who thought the plants were beautiful.

When the souvenirs were disposed of, many found their way into streams and rivers, and canals. Hyacinths which grow at a amazing rate, a few plants can reproduce and cover an acre of water densely in eight months or less.
The plants spread from Louisiana, through Texas and Florida, and by 1905, there was a 100 mile long hyacinth growth spread from the Exhibition site in New Orleans.

Hyacinths are an exotic plant and considered a major problem in southern waters, and yet they are an integral part of the environment of many southern swamps. In Mississippi, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, found that the hyacinths play a great role in recycling and purifying sewage. And NASA, also found hyacinths can be used for cattle feed, as well as, for the manufacture of natural gas, for a city of 30,000 people.
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03-20-2013, 04:28 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-20-2013, 04:53 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
Often effects of water pollution are not always seen for what they are, as pollution stems from many sources. Domestic sewage and industrial wastes, mine drainage and pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers, are all sources of pollution which are a growing hazard which endanger health and eliminate many areas from recreational use, with loss of plant life and animal life. These types of pollution are easily recognized. It has been discovered that some exotic weeds produce methane gas. Examples are Water hyacinths and Duckweed, and Florida Elodea.

But taken a step farther we see lush growths of vegetation and assume all is well. But ever so often, these overgrowth's are the end result of to much nutrient, in the water causing rapid take overs by plant life. When water becomes industrial or municipally polluted or poisoned by red tide, the result is sea plants and creatures that are dangerous to eat. This proves that marshes and swamps and other wetland and ocean areas do not need additional fertilizers that agricultural lands do. Wetlands are naturally productive on their own.

A ecosystem can support only a certain number of organisms and still function adequately. If this number is exceeded, the ecosystem will suffer and begin to degrade.
Not all green plants in wetlands are consumed by grazers. In fact, few aquatic invertebrates feed on submerged aquatic plants, those being primarily detritus feeders.

All uneaten leaves, as well as, twigs and dead branches, that accumulate in the wetlands are taken over by bacteria and worms and aquatic insects that produce detritus. These creatures use some of the energy that resides in dead plants and animal remains, but in the process release mineral nutrients and organic compounds that enable wetlands ecosystems to be self-perpetuating.

Wetlands play many important roles:
1. Controlling of flood waters
2. Recharging groundwater
3. Filtering pollutants
4. habitat for waterfowl & other wildlife
5. Support for fisheries
6. Sanctuaries for rare & endangered species
7. Educational & recreational purposes

Please feel free to express your thoughts and opinions. Do you have any exotic plants or animals where you live?

The dense sea grape thickets along the beaches and the mangrove forests along the bays once kept many exotic life-forms from entering Florida's, ecosystem. The Mangroves filter and purify coastal waters and their fallen and decaying leaves provide nutrients for a myriad of larval and juvenile creatures that use it's root system for a nursery and the roots stabilize the shorelines.
But mankind introduced many new exotic plants and trees into the region.

The Australian Pine was introduced to Miami Beach by John Collins to protect his fruit trees from salty breezes.

The Sea Mahoe is a salt-tolerant ornamental that escaped from hotel gardens and is now found in remote hammocks of the Everglades National Park, where birds have carried its seed pods. Another
ornamental shrub is the Brazilian Pepper, which produces red fruit that birds eat and deposit the seeds along riverbanks and in the swamps.

While most introduced species offer some benefits by definition, an exotic enters a area where there are few or no biological controls affecting it's species. This leads to a population explosion in which the exotic invariably overwhelms some native species usually of far greater benefit to man and the local habitat. South Florida alone contains more introduced plants and animals than any other region in the United States.
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03-20-2013, 07:52 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-20-2013, 08:01 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
AQUATIC WEED CONTROL:

In 1950, the Florida Fresh Water Fish & Game Commission, recognized that aquatic weeds were causing problems for fishermen and boaters. Aquatic weed control is divided into three areas: Field operations and permitting, and research.

The Operations branch operates from statewide headquarters in Lakeland, and coordinates operations through five supervisors through-out the state. These supervisors coordinate state operations with federal and local programs to avoid duplication.

The Permit section is composed of six aquatic botanists whose primary responsibility is permitting of aquatic weed control operations under guidelines established by the Dept. of Natural Resources.
The Research group provides research capabilities for control programs as they relate to fresh water fisheries in the areas of biological and chemical, environmental and mechanical control.

Aquatic botanists are required to have knowledge of and ability to identify all species of native and exotic aquatic plants found in southeastern United States, particularly those found in Florida.

They are also required to make recommendations to control and or manage the various aquatic plants throughout the State of Florida, and are responsible for reviewing and recommending approval or disapproval of all aquatic vegetation control program permits as required by the Natural Resources or Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission.

Duties included providing the general public with an extension service regarding the latest and safest, methods of aquatic vegetation control.
Aquatic botanist's also set up and carry out research projects in other chemical and mechanical, biological and physical controls of noxious aquatic vegetation, and must have knowledge of general fish management methods and equipment.

Aquatic botanists are often called to speak to various civic and garden, and sportsmen clubs on aquatic weed control and/or related subjects. They are required to meet with other state agencies and aquatic weed control groups, and private applicators in order to provide the latest information on herbicides and permitting, and regulations.

An average of 1000 requests for assitance are received and acted upon by each aquatic botanist during the course of one year. And approximately 400 aquatic weed control permits are processed.
Miscellaneous duties include conducting vegetation transects for the grass carb study areas and surveillance of public boat ramps to prevent the spread of noxious aquatic weed vegetation, and emergency aquatic plant control measures required to keep popular fishing areas open to boat traffic.

The aquatic weed control research section consists of two biologists, located in Eustis, who are responsible for determining the effects of herbicides on bottom organisms and specialized field studies. A third biologist located in Fort Lauderdale, is responsible for collecting field data information on the four study areas stocked with grass carp. The grass carp project is a cooperative study being conducted by personel of the Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Department of Natural Resources.

The Department of Natural Resources designed a large water hyacinth harvester which started operation in the winter of 1973 and is operated by the Commission personel.
They determined there were an estimated 350,000 acres of noxious aquatic weeds in Florida waters. The figure included water hyacinth and hydrilla and eurasian watermilfoil and alligator weed, all of which are exotic or non-native species of aquatic plants in Florida.

Anyone wishing to comment or share about exotic aquatic weeds or animals in their state or country are welcome to add their information here. Smile
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03-21-2013, 02:12 AM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
WHEN EXOTIC'S BECAME ESTABLISHED IN FLORDIA, AND COUNTRY OF ORGIN

Carrot Wood, Beach Tamarind, Green-leaved Tamarind or Tuckeroo tree
(Cupaniopsis anacar dioides) Orgin-Australia 1960

Dowy Rose myrtle, Donny myrtle, Hill Gooseberry, Hill guava
(Rhodomyrtus tomentosa) Orgin-Asia 1994

Air Potato, Potato yam, Air yam
(Dioscorea bulbifera) Orgin-Asia Introduced during slave trades in 1905

Hydrilla, Water thyme, Florida elodea, Water weed
(hydrilla verticillata) Orgin- Sri Lanka 1950

Burma reed, Silk reed, Cane grass, False reed
(Neyraudia reynaudiana) Orgin- Southern Asia 1916

Water Lettuce, Water cabbage
(Pistia stratiotes) Orgin- Africa or South America 1774

Lather leaf, Asiatic or Common Colubrina hoop with Asian Snake Root
(Colubrina asiatica) Orgin- Brought to Jamaica, from Asian traders in 1850's/ in Florida 1933

Water Hyacinth, Water orchid
(Eichornia crassipies) Orgin- Amazon Basin 1884-1890

Australian pine, Beefwood, Iron wood, She oak, Horsetail tree
(Casuarina glauca & Casuarina equisefifolia & Casuarina cunninghamiana)
Orgin-Australia, South Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia Late 1900's

Brazilian Pepper, Florida Holly, Christmas Berry, Pepper Tree
(schinus terebinthifolius) Orgin- Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay 1840's

Old World Climbing Fern
(Lygodium microphyllum) Orgin- Tropical Asia, Africa, Australia 1958

Melaleuca, Paper-bark, Cajeput, Punk tree, White Bottle Brush tree
(Melaleuca quingu enervia) Orgin- Australia, New Guinea, The Solmon Islands 1906

All of these non-native exotic's are found in the Florida, wetlands, as well as, along the banks of rivers and streams, and canals, and even in dry land areas.
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03-22-2013, 07:40 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-22-2013, 08:06 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
INSECTS THAT WERE IMPORTED FOR BIOLOGICAL CONTROL and DATES OF RELEASE INTO FLORIDA
The biological control must be able to be capable of damaging the pest plants growth or reproduction before it is given field release.

1. Hydrilla Tuber Weevil (Bagous affinis) Orgin- India & Pakistian 1987
2. Asian Hydrellia (Hydrellia pakistanne 1988
3. Leaf-Mining Fly (Hydrilla baleiunas 1988
4. Hydrilla Miner (Cricotopus lebetis) 1992
5. Hydrilla Moth (Parapoynx diminutalis) Orgin-Asia 1976
This insect enter through the aquarium trade and was found eating hydrilla. It was not approved for release, but researchers found that the larvae of this moth can completely defoliate hydrilla.

6. Mottled Water Hyacinth Weevil (Neochetina eichhorniare) 1972
7. Chevroned Water Hyacinth Weevil (Neochetina bruchl) 1974
8. Water Hyacinth Moth (Niphograpta (=sameodes albiguttalis) 1977
9. Water Hyacinth Planthopper (Megamalus scutellaris) 2010

10. Water Lettuce Leaf Weevil (Neohydronomus affinis) 1986-1988
This insect has maintained some control of water lettuce, but also preys on Fire Ants, so it is a exotic insect with potential to control another exotic insect.
11. Water Lettuce Leaf Moth (Spodoptera pectinicorais 1990
This caterpillar from Thailand, worked well to conrol water lettuce in rice paddies.

12. Melaleuca Leaf Weevil (Oxyops vitiosa) Orgin- Australia 1992-1997
13. Melaleuca psyllid (Boreloglycaspis melaleucae) 2002
14. Melaleuca Bud-Gall Fly (Fergusonina turner) 2005
15. Melaeuca Stem-Gall Midge (Lophodiplosis trifida) 2008

16. Salvinia Weevils (Cyrtobagous salviniae) 2001

Some of these insects provided to be very vital in biological control of plants & trees, but the aquatic weeds needed other forms of control.

USING FISH AS BIOLOGICAL CONTROLS FOR AQUATIC WEEDS IN FLORIDA

The White Amur (diploid grass carp), an exotic fish from the Amur River located in the Soviet Union, was permitted by the Department of Natural Resources for release in approximately 80 secure ponds, from March 1978, until October 1980. However, in 1980, the Fish & Game Commission's grave concerns over the amur being able to reproduce in several of the State's larger river systems, and the fact it's spawning methods being similar to the striped bass, and because the amur utilized practically every submersed aquatic plant present in Fl., it was felt the amur could seriously interfere with the sportfishing and water fowl hunting as a result of water quality degradation and reduction of desirable aquatic vegetation, it was decided to eliminate the use of the white amur in Florida.
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03-22-2013, 09:22 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-22-2013, 09:35 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
In later 1980, fisheries scientists from Louisiana State University, while collecting fish population data in the Mississippi River, determined grass carp had been reproducing in areas of this major river system since 1975. As a result of this discovery, along with staff findings on potential impact, the Commission prohibited the use of the diploid grass carp and thus initiated a stocking program utilizing the triploid grass carp, a (sterile), fish produced in Florida and Arkansas.

The Commission has been permitting the use of triploid grass carp for the private sector, on a limited basis, to control submersed aquatic vegetation. This program was established to provide relief to owners of lakefront property on closed or semi-closed systems, troubled with dense strands of undesirable aquatic plants as an alternative to the widespread use of herbicides in Florida.

The triploid grass carp will remove hydrilla, when stocked in adequate numbers, from ponds and small lakes. There is some evidence the fish may also eat the growth of emergent species such as the fragrant water lily and the alligatorweed. The Commission stocks the triploid grass carp for the control of submersed aquatic vegetation at 5 to 40 fish per acre depending on the species of vegetation present in the water area, and the length of the fish. There is no size limit on fish stocked for private waters, however, it should be noted that largemouth bass will feed on small triploids.

If chemical control were to be used the cost would run from $220-$400 per acre. And since two or three chemical treatments may be needed to control the vegetation in a body of water, the cost of purchasing grass carp would prove to be much less expenive, then an ongoing chemical control program.

Types of vegetation that triploid grass carp can help control are, hydrilla and chara, and types of duckweed. Not effectively controled by the triploid carp is vegetation like, eelweed and Eurasian watermilfoil, smartweed and stonewort, water hyacinth and American lotus, yellow water lily and fragrant water lily, maidencane and dollarweed, alligatorweed and torpedograss, and cattails.

The difference between the diploid grass carp and the triploid grass carp, is that the diploid grass carp is capable of reproducing and the triploid grass carp can not reproduce.
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03-22-2013, 12:57 PM, (This post was last modified: 03-22-2013, 01:00 PM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
MY OWN INTEREST IN EXOTIC PLANTS AND ANIMALS

During my time in Florida, I spent a lot of time exploring the wetland areas, wading in the shallow waters on the edge of swamps and deep canals and along the banks of the Caloosahatee River. One day I was exploring a swamp area in near the community of Muse, in Glades County, and made a dicovery of my own. I found many long-haired brown caterpillars perched on the frog-bit plants in the swamp eating the leaves. Upon closer observation I saw their feeding technique was similar to us eating corn off the cob.They ate in a saw like fashion across the edge of each leaf and back again with incrediable speed. In a short amount of time each leaf was completely eaten.

I had been reading up on aquatic plants and biological controls, and realized here was my chance to do my own experimental study. I carefully gathered five caterpillars into a bucket of pond water, along with a large handful of frogbit leaves. Carefully I drove home and put the bucket in the garage. The next morning I opened the lid to discover the caterpillars had eaten all the leaves off the plants. Then realizing their enormous appitite I decided to test them on water hyacinth plants to determine if these plants would be devoured as well.

I obtained a very large aquarium with a fine mesh screen lid. Into this aquarium went three gallons of pond water and a few water lettuce plants, three big bunches of water hyacinths and some duckweed and a bit of hydrilla and water milfoil, elodea and filamentous algae. While this may seem to be a large amount of plants, I was trying to recreate a natural swamp setting, from the area the caterpillars were collected.

I also added some water oak branches giving the caterpillars a spot away from the water and perhapes a spot to form their pupae cases. I also collected a few ramhorn snails to keep the tank clear of debris.
Once the caterpillars were introducted into the aquarium they stopped eating and just explored their new home. After three hours they settled in and began eating the water hyacinth plants. And although, they did eat them at a slower rate than the frog-bit plants, it was indeed noted that the water hyacinths were not their favorite food.

Since I had created their living quarters from the swamp I discovered some unexpected additions to the tank. Several small mosquito fish were darting about and their were creamy clear egg clusters, attached to the roots of the water hyacinth plants. Also a few tiny harmless spiders were running about on the leaves of the water lettuce plants.

On the second day I found it necessary to add more pond water as the water hyacinth plants were soaking up lots of water and there was some natural evaporation going on. I also got another big bunch of frog-bit plants for the aquarium, to the dining delight of the caterpillars.
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03-23-2013, 03:28 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-23-2013, 03:30 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
This experiment began in the fall of 1992 and ended in the spring of 1993:

On various times for some reason or another a caterpillar would lose his grip on a leaf and fall into the water. I first I worried that they might drowned, but soon discovered this caterpillar had a natural ability that helped in it's survival. After falling they would curl into a ball and float on top of the water. Then they would stretch out and violently contort their bodies, doing this continuely until the slight wave actions brought them close to a plant where the caterpillar could climb up on the vegetation. While this movement saves the life of the caterpillar, in the wild, it would no doubt attract the attention of it's natural enemies.

After adding more pond water and plants, including frog-bit, on the fifth day of my experiment, I was surprised to see the caterpillars were now refusing to eat the frog-bit, and instead concentrating on only the water hyacinth leaves. And much to my delight more aquatic insects and creatures were appearing, brought in with the new plants and pond water, from the swamp.
1. One, Brown Waterscorpin (Ranatra fusca)
2. Three, small Fresh Water Shrimp
3. One, small Crayfish
4. Three, Mosquito fish
5. Several, Water Beetles (need to identifity)

During the evenings, using a flashlight, I explored the underwater world and vegetation. Hiding between the water hyacinth roots the crayfish lay hidden awaiting some unexpecting fish to swim by, and the water beetles seemed to be feeding on the Filamentous Algae, in the tank. It appeared they were laying eggs on the stem roots of the water hyacinth plants.
Each morning nothing had changed and little movement noted, other than the diving water beetles and the caterpillars eating the hyacinth leaves.

One afternoon as the sun rays came through the window into the aquarium, the Brown Water Scorpian, emerged from the water and perched on the top of a frog-bit leaf giving me the perfect opportunity to study him more closely, He is a very interesting specimen. he is of the (Nepidae) family, elongated, sticklike, four-winged insect, characterized by a long breathing tube at the anal end of his abdomen.
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03-23-2013, 09:15 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-23-2013, 09:19 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
By the end of the first week and a half, all five caterpillars had formed pupae cases in the aquarium. Two were placed on the upper inner rim of the screen lid. Two formed their cases in one upper corner of the aquarium, and one forumed on the underside of a hyacinth leaf.

So I went back to the swamp and got four more caterpillars that were still feeding on the frog-bit plants. For the first couple days I continued to feed them frog-bit, to see if they would switch to the hyacinth leaves on their own, if not I will remove the frob-bit leaves. Within three days the caterpillars discovered the hyacinth leaves and chose those over the frog-bit plants. So increasingly the water hyacinth became the perferred food.

In inspection of the rest of the aquarium it seems that the water hyacinth plants are chosen more frequently by aquatic creatures for egg-laying sites. The under portions of many lower leaves and the root bulbs are covered with white egg cluster cases of unknown identification at this time. Plus the water beetles have been busy laying eggs within the sections of leaves. On the evening of the 12th day, a newly emerged Green Midge (Tanytarsus spp.), was spotted. It's wiggly body was spotted on a slightly submerged water hyacinth leaf. It is struggling to free its self from a thin string of a spider web.
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03-23-2013, 12:05 PM, (This post was last modified: 03-23-2013, 12:26 PM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
I made a goof: The green midge Spider (Micrommato virescent), he showed up one day after I added more hyacinth plants. Also more swamp pond water was added every few days to replace all that was lost from the hyacinths and natural reasons.

Now since my caterpillars had begun the process of forming pupae cases, I figured I better find out what species they were. From my local library, I borrowed books on insects and butterflies. In the Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Insects, I discovered my caterpillars. They were from the Acraea Moth (Estigmene acraea), described as a caterpillar 2 1/2" long (65mm), black body covered with dense, long rusty-red hair. Their habitat was in fields and pastures, and marshes. They range throughout North America, except not in northern Canada. Their food is herbaceous plants and cord grasses in salt marshes. Nickname: "Salt Water Caterpillar."

My aquarium had become a nursery. The water beetles and snails were consuming the roots of the frog-bit plants and large clusters of be-be sized white eggs are attached to the roots of the water hyacinth plants. The fact that the caterpillars changed their eating habits once in the aquarium, made me wonder if all vegetation eating caterpillars would ajust their diet if put in this type of situation??
Something to test another time.

It is now the end of December 1992, and this morning I had a very discouraging find. The temperture changes during the night with our furance running caused the tank to become warmer than it should have been. Over night some leaves on the hyacinth plants turned moldy, and the mold formed a light white dust powder on the water hyacinth where the last two caterpillars were eating.

I can only conclude that the caterpillars must have eaten some of the mold powder which in turn killed them. Their hair fell out and their bodies turned whitish over night. I guess the lack of movement of the water caused slight stagmentation and so the mold formed.

All the other creatures and insects in the aquarium remained healthy. I clipped off the moldy leaves and removed the dead caterpillars from the tank.
The several caterpillar pupae cases, now at the top of the aquarium were fine and I was set to wait for the moths to emerge.
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03-24-2013, 04:48 AM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
As the moths emerged from the pupae cases in 1993. after months of waiting, I identifitied them as being Salt Marsh Moths (Estigmene acrea). Family (Erebidae) and Subfamily (Arctiinae).The throx and head was white, with the forewings white with 4-6 black dots on the front margin and further speckling of black dots elsewhere. Hindwings were a dark orange/yellow color on the (males), and white on the one (female), that emerged. Wingspan 4.5-6.8cm. View the caterpillar and the beautiful moth at this link. The caterpillar on upper left side of page is the type I had in my aquarium, and as you can see the moth although, labeled as a pest, is quite beautiful in its snow white/black spotted coat. Go To:
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/speci...mene-acrea
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03-24-2013, 07:47 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-24-2013, 07:52 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
The Aquactic management has one natural way of controlling waterweeds, that being the mammal, the Manatee. These creatures weight up to 2,000 pounds, and the adults are up to 10 feet in length. The females give birth to a calf every 2 years. The Manatee can live up to 40 years. They are very quiet and solitary animals, except in colder weather when they gather around the warm water outlets near power plants.

They are very slow moving, but can swim quite rapidly for short distances. They move by means of paddle-shaped flippers and tails. Manatee's are herbivorous and eat large quantities of plants of every description. They seem to prefer submersed plants, but also eat floating plants and shoreline plants.
Mantee's breathe air through their nostrils, and can hold their breathe for several minutes in order to eat submerged aquatic plants.

Manatee's are able to maintain neuital buoyancy, kind of like submarines do, so they can easily float underwater while feeding in the rivers and bay areas, estuaries and ocean areas. While living in Florida, I had a chance to enjoy seeing a group of Manatee's up close and personal, while sitting on our dock along a oxbow off the Caloosahattee River. An oxbow is a part of the old river that had wound in and around groves of trees and outcroppings of land, before it had been straighted, making it's way from the Alantic Ocean to the Gulf Of Mexico. I will explain this in more detail later on.

The group of manatee's swam past our dock, then turned around and swam back a short distance as the babies played a game of racing ahead and then stopping and racing back to their mothers. It was easy to trace the trails made, as a line of bubbles followed above them on the surface of the water. One large adult manatee raised it's head out of the water near where I sat and stripped the leaves off brazilian branches that dipped down near the edge of the water. It was so neat seeing this as a manatee head, kind of reminded me of a cow's head. Just as quick as they had arrived, they left the oxbow and returned to the main river channel.
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03-25-2013, 10:32 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-25-2013, 10:33 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
I planned on telling you all about the Everglades National Park, so I am going to share a short piece about the park as told by the Author Charlton W. Tebeau, in his book "They Lived In The Park," published in 1963. If you wish to know more about the Park and the history of south Florida, I highly recommand this book, as he talks about the first Indians, as well as, hunters and trappers, and the thiefs, and the vast area of the Park. There are nice b/w pictures of the land areas as in the early days and stories of those who lived in the Park area, at that time.

The Everglades is chiefly a great flat, mostly treeless, complex of marshes and wet prairie with a scattering of islands and hammocks which stands out in it somewhat as the islands do in the offshore waters of the west coast. It is covered over everywhere with saw grass dotted with small islands. Though it may appear to be part of a great level plain nearly thirty miles wide where it enters the Park, it is in reality a great drainage basin aptly designated a "River of Grass." The fall is so slight, being from twenty feet at Lake Okeechobee to sea level at its end 150 miles south, that the flow of the water is almost imperceptible.

The waters of the Kissimmee River and other streams of the Lake Okeechobee watershed once flowed into the lake, and from the lake down through more than a hundred miles of the Everglades and evenually found their way into the Gulf of Mexico. But drainage of the lake and the upper Everglades has greatly reduced this source of water and every gallon of water diverted from this great area by use or drainage is also diverted from the Everglades National Park and alters the natural setting.

On the eastern side of the Everglades is separated from the Altantic Ocean by a coastal ridge. Occasional rivers such as at Miami and Fort Lauderdale cut through the ridge. These rivers now widened and deepened for drainage purposes also carried Everglades waters in large volume before the water table in the interior was lowered. This ridge in some measure extends all the way to the end of the Florida peninsula and turns most of the water of the Everglades southwestwardly into the Gulf of Mexico.

On the western side north and west of the Park, the Everglades merges into the Big Cypress country, roughly where the Collier-Dade-Monroe county lines intersect near the "forty-mile bend" on the Tamiami Trail west of Miami.
------------------------
If you ever get the chance to visit Florida, take a road trip into south Florida, to Route 41, better known as the Tamiami Trail, and take a airboat ride. It is the most amazing feeling to be zipping along over top of the sawgrass, and seeing the vast amounts of water birds and fish, and alligators. Lots of folks go to Florida, just for Disney World, but you will miss the beauty of the State, if you don't visit a part of the Everglades National Park.
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03-26-2013, 08:27 AM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
The Caloosahattee River was once a winding 103 mile, shallow river, until in the late 1900's, The Army Corp of Engineers, drudged out, deepened and widened, and straightened the river making it 67 miles long. It is considered to be a C-43 canal, that has two dams and locks that help provide water supply and flood control, but also provide the means of transportation of boats and tugboats and barges, the use of the river. Water management is working on plans to provide areas along the river for additional watershed management and improvement of quality of the water, which at present time is showing signs of pollution both manmade and from natural means, and exotic plants and fish.
Here is a video about the Caloosahattee River and the methods planned for restoring the ecosystem.
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03-26-2013, 12:31 PM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
One of the most troublesome exotic weeds as I have mentioned above is the Water Hyacinth. The Mottled Water Hyacinth weevil (Neochetina eichhorniae), has proven to be most effective in killing the plants. A typical water hyacinth plant can produce in a single season produce as many as 65,000 plants. Mechanical removal works only in limited areas. There are not enough grass carp or manatees to manage removal of all the plants in all areas. Thus another biological control factor is the use of the weevil.

The weevil is able to complete a cycle from eggs to adults, in three months. The female deposits her eggs in the tissue of a leaf or in the upper petiole (leaf stalk), of the hyacinth plants. In seven to ten days the larvae (grubs) hatch out and they then tunnel thoughout the interior of the plant, eating the vital crown areas and leaving brown streaks of dead or dying plant tissue to mark where they have been.

After spending time chewing there way throughout the plant, the larvae exist the plant under water and attach themselves to the extenive root systems of the hyacinth. The larvae weevil forms a cocoon, and within a couple of weeks the adult weevil emerges. The adults are nocturnal, meaning they only feed at night on the outer surface of the plants. The presence of these adult weevils is show on the plants by a polka dot pattern of small brown spots, which are dead plant cells that surround the area where the weevils have eaten. Their eating pattern allows the spread of fungus infections in the plants as well, thus since their release in 1972, they have proven to be a perfect natural control in Florida waters.
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03-31-2013, 10:18 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-31-2013, 10:43 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
I thought I would give you all a simple lesson on how plants are named, as I am sure you have noticed whenever I post about plants I add in their scientific Latin names as well. The reason I try to do this is because many plants have lots of common names that can be misleading, but scientific names never are. Example of this might be confusing the red maple tree with a Japanese red maple. They are two completely different trees. A red maple (Acer rubrum), grows to be over 75 feet tall; and has green leaves in summer and foliage that turns red in the fall. the Japanese red maple (Acer pulmatum), has red leaves all year long and only grows up to 25 feet.

When using scientific names it helps people to understand their meanings and the names become interesting and become easier to learn. The best way to become familiar with them is to say them out loud whenever, you read the Latin name or see pictures of it in a seed catalog, or add it to your aquarium. Knowing the Latin names of plants and animals, makes it easy to order them from anywhere in the world; as it is a universal language. All use the same Latin names.

You might be wondering who invented this system of two-naming plants. It was a famous Swedish botanist, by the name of Linnaeus. He gave all plants just two Latin names as their scientific name.

The first name is known as the generic name; this is the plant's group name. All plants that have the same generic name are said to belong to the same genus. All plants with the same genus have similar characteristics and are closely related to each other more than they are to other members of anyother genus. The second name is the specific name. All plants with the same specific name belong to the same species. (The Latin meaning of species is "kind."

It also means that all plants of the same species have the same characteristics and will consistently produce plants of the same type. Even today where different plant species are subdivided into many varieties, and where one variety of a species resembles that of another variety, there are always one or two differences that stay the same and are inherited.

Example of this is the peach tree is known as (Prunus persica), and the nectarine tree is (Prunus persica var. nucipersica.) Other subdivisions are called cultivar (cv.). This term cultivar means a "cultivated variety." So if you remember that the generic name is a noun and the species name is a adjective, it will help you remember them easier.

Some generic names were the names of early botanists. The (Buddleia), was named in the memory of Adam Buddle. Other common generic names are Chrysanthemum (mum) or Pinus (Pine), Pelargonium (Geranium) or Hibiscus (mallow).
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03-31-2013, 11:43 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-31-2013, 12:12 PM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
As I stated above the species name is an adjective, meaning it always gives important information about a plant. It can tell us the color of the plant, as in Betula lutea is yellow birch, or Betula alba which is white birch, or Quercus rubra is red oak.

Sometimes the species name tells us it is a creeping or an erect plant, as a Epigaea repens is a trailing arbutus. Other times we learn geographical information about where the plants orgin is, such as Anemone virginiana is a Virginia anemone or Taxus canadensis is the Canada yew. Another interesting item is the words Macro or micro, as a species name macrophylla means it has large leaves, while a species called microphylla would have small leaves. The word (phyllus) means leaf.

Most of the time when Latin names are printed in a book they are show in italics. It is just a standby mostly always used when names or phrases are written in a language other than our own. So they are printed in italics or underlined, when typewritten or handwritten. The generic name is written first, then the species name, and the last cultivar (cv.) name. The generic name begins with a capital letter and the species name with a small letter. The cultivar name is preceeded by the letters cv or enclosed within single quotes, with the first letter of the cultivar name capitalized.

The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, which is a set of rules to ensure that every different species has a different binomial name and that the scientific name assigned to that plant is the oldest binomial name ever used for that plant. The scientists who identify and classify plants are called "taxonomists."

Taxonomy Chart: hierarchy of specification, is as follows:
Kingdom-Plant
Division or Phylum- Spermatophyta (seed plants)
Class-- Angiospermae (seeds in fruit)
Order--Acerales
Family--Aceraceae
Genus--Acer
Species--rubrum
Variety or cultivar--var 'October Glory'

The above chart represents different types of trees as in these examples: The generic name for maple is (Acer), which is sometimes abbreviated to (A). The red maple may be expressed as (A. rubrum,) and the Japanese maple (A. palmatum.) The cultivar refers to a specific plant, as in (Pinus strobus 'pendula,') weeping white pine or (Fagus sylvatica 'Atropurpurea,') copper beech, whose leaves are deep maroon color.

In plant families related genera with similar flower structures are generally grouped together into major units, as the rose family. It is known as Rosaceae, and consists of several genera, such as (prunus) plum, (Fragaria) strawberry, (Rubus) bramble, and (Malus) apple.
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04-01-2013, 11:01 AM, (This post was last modified: 04-01-2013, 11:01 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
Here are a few questions with answers I thought I would share:

1. What is the largest genus of forest trees?
Answer- Hawthorns; the genus of (Crataegus), comprises about 165 species.

2. What is the largest genus of commercial forest trees?
Answer- Oaks, there are about 60 species not counting hybrids and varieties.

3. What State has the largest number of different kinds of trees?
Answer- Florida has 314 species of native and naturalised trees. Texas, Georgia, California follow.

4. What State has the least number of trees?
Answer- North Dakota is almost treeless, except for cottonwoods and willows.

5. What is a softwood tree?
Answer- trees of the pine family, like conifers and cone bearers.

6. What is a hardwood tree?
Answer- General term for any other tree not in pine family, like oaks and maples, and hickories, etc..

7. What was the biggest living tree in the world, in 1949?
Answer- The General Sherman Bigtree in the Sequoia National Park in California. It is 115 feet in circumference and 273 feet in height; and its volume is 600,120 board feet.
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04-02-2013, 11:25 AM, (This post was last modified: 04-02-2013, 11:41 AM by 4sweed.)
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
I have been telling about the biological control of weeds by insects, but did you know that some controls being used are fungus, to control weeds and plant diseases. One such is called Fungus rust, (Puccinia chondrillina), which is used to control skeleton weed. The rust disease destroys the seed pod of the plant, preventing it from reproducing and also stunts its growth.

Another fungus (Talaromyces flavius), controls the plant diseases of potato wilt and verticullium wilt. The fungus works to stop potato wilt and provides 75% reduction of wilt on eggplants. And lastly, a yeast (Tilleteopars), stops powdery mildew in greenhouse enviroments.

Different new biological controls are under study and some have proved promising.

ClandoSan- by-product of shellfish and crab industries that controls nematodes, by stimulating the growth of nematode's natural enemies, that in turn kill the nematodes.

Vectobac- is a biological insecticide for killing fungus gnats. It is applied to the soil.

Potato that has a built in insect repellant. This hybrid potato produces leptine, a chemical that repels the Colorado potato bettle.

Corn Vaccination- A gene from the bacterium (Bacillus thuringiensis), is forced into the corn seed and passes on from seed into plant as it grows. The gene produces a toxin that kills the corn borer.

Japanese Beetle Control- the nematodes (Heterohabditis HP88), have a 90% control of beetle larvae. And the nematodes provide better control then chemical compounds.
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04-03-2013, 08:49 AM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
What are the advanages of using biological controls:
1. In most cases the dollar cost is much less than using chemicals.
2. Biological controls do not poison the environment.
3. Insects are becoming resistant to many chemical pesticides.
4. Many man-made chemicals have been proven to cause cancer or tumors, in humans & animals.
5. Some chemicals are now in our drinking water.
6. The Environmental Protection Agency is restricting the use of many pesticides, so fewer are available.
7. With the use of biological controls poisonous chemicals made from plants, are broken down more easily and made harmless in the environment.
8. Microorganisms are used to clean up chemical spills in the soil and water by eating and breaking down the chemicals into harmless materials.
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04-03-2013, 11:46 AM,
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RE: In The Florida Wilds
The Lion Fish
A exotic fish that is causing damage by changing the salt water native reef environments is called the Lionfish (Pterois volitan). It changes the biodiversity by making the ecosystem less substanable for native fish, as the Lionfish eats young fish like the grouper and snapper, as well as, shimp. This Lionfish is a native of the western pacific ocean.

It has been noted that this fish was brought into Florida, for the aquarium pet trade and when released invaded the waters surrounding Florida, and now has spread upward along the Altantic coast as far as New York state. This burgandy brown striped fish has venomous spines that can be very painful when encountered by divers.

Diving experts at local resorts have been helping remove the Lionfish from the reefs by spearing them and also by catching them in nets. Permission has been given by government agencys for the divers to do this activity. They also help with coral reef monitoring and research techniques.
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