10/09/13 - Wednesday's Topical Currents examines how our lives are increasingly entwined with creatures which are displaced by suburbia, highways and urban sprawl. South Florida is a prime example of urban menagerie creation, through habitat loss. We see foxes, raccoons, wading birds, reptiles and even vultures on our streets and properties. We’ll speak with nature writer and researcher Lyanda Lynn Haupt about her book, THE URBAN BESTIARY: Encountering the Everyday Wild. That’s Topical Currents . . . Wednesday at 1pm.
Imagine this scene: You're preparing to go for a morning jog in your Fort Lauderdale neighborhood when you spy an opossum sifting through a pile of overripe mangoes beneath a tree in the backyard. Or perhaps on the course of that morning jog, you spot a brown baby bird hopping on the ground beneath a cocoplum. It's pumping its wings but not gaining much altitude.
The clock is ticking for the highly-endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow, but a new project recently green-lit by a federal agency may offer some hope for avoiding extinction. Scientists believe there are roughly 200 of the tiny birds remaining in the wild. Two years ago, scientists found the lowest count of the birds in history: last year's numbers dipped even lower.
Humans aren't the only species facing an uncertain future in South Florida should current sea level rise predictions prove accurate. Migratory and resident shore birds also would feel the pinch of encroaching salt water, beach erosion, and shore line and habitat loss.
When examining current land modeling and other scientific data, in addition to physical evidence, "It becomes clear what a substantial threat sea level rise will be," said Julie Wraithmell, director of Wildlife Conservation, Florida, for the National Audubon Society.
Proposed changes at Everglades National Park have put anglers at odds with environmental groups. The park's draft general management plan, which includes several variations (or "alternatives"), is currently up for public comment. This Sunday is the deadline to weigh in on proposed measures, which include prohibiting traditional boating in about one-third of Florida Bay.
Is there any animal more closely associated with the Everglades than the American alligator? OK, the Burmese python has been the 'glades press "darling" as of late, but invasive, non-natives do not count for the purposes of celebrating the Everglades. While Florida's iconic reptilian king deserves all of the attention it gets, there are plenty of other cool critters that inhabit the Everglades.
Sea turtle nesting season is off and crawling this year with the first reported sea turtle nest in Boca Raton. The nest, made by a leatherback turtle, was recorded on Sunday morning in South Beach Park by Marine Turtle Specialists with the Boca Raton Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program based out of Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
Lionfish are the newest target of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation's (FWC) efforts to use social engagement to tackle the problem of exotic, invasives in the state. The FWC announced last week the launch of its "Lionfish Control Team" photo contest for the month of April.
On a recent Sunday morning, a group of hikers paused on a heavily canopied trail to observe a bird perched high atop a tree, its body silhouetted against the rising sun. A brief hush took hold as binoculars focused in on the back-lit bird, loudly churring its morning song. Bodies shifted for a better view, until: "Yep, great crested flycatcher!"
On Saturday morning, Neil Hammerschlag stood on the stern of a charter boat frequently used for his innovative shark tagging and research program. The boat had departed just after 9 a.m. from Miami Seaquarium's docks. It stopped just a few miles offshore, Miami's skyline still visible in the distance.
One of Florida's most beloved endangered species is facing a tough end to the winter. State wildlife officials have confirmed the deaths of more than 170 manatees in Southwest Florida as red tide impacts regional populations of the gentle water-dwelling mammals.