Coastal Center and Mission Update
Dear Friends and Supporters,
During this Spring of 2020, despite the difficult challenges that we are all facing, our organization is making amazing progress that I would like to share with you. The Florida Oceanographic team has been driving our mission forward at the Coastal Center, in the field and throughout the community.
At the Coastal Center
Being closed to the public, these past several weeks have given us the opportunity to work on special projects that we normally can’t get to this time of year. We have been doing several maintenance projects in the public areas of the Visitor Center and we have been replacing boards and raising handrails on the Nature Trails. We can’t wait for you to see the updates!
Our conservation ambassadors are keeping us busy! We are spending quality time with our animals including enrichment activities in addition to their daily care. We also took one of our non-releasable sea turtles, Turtwig, for his annual medical checkup. Annual medical check-ups play an important role in the continued well-being of all of our sea turtles.
In addition to our current field operations and collecting and analyzing data, our scientists have just initiated a new project that incorporates setting up an SET (Sediment Elevation Table). SETs are a method of measuring gain or loss of sediment in our coastal ecosystems over time, providing accuracy to the millimeter. They are set up to measure and compare areas with and without restored oyster reefs to assess how oyster reefs reduce erosion and build shorelines and evaluate impacts to coastal habitats.
Community Inspiration & Education
Although we aren’t able to welcome guests to the Coastal Center, we have been working to inspire and engage the community through brand new virtual programming and grade-specific learning packets. We’ve been missing our on-site visits, but have been able to connect with students and community members through live-streamed lectures and virtual classroom visits instead!
Advocacy in Action
We have been concentrating our efforts recently on providing feedback and input as it relates to the new Lake Okeechobee management schedule, LOSOM. It is critical that we continue to push for good water management decisions and make sure that our voices are heard in support of our waterways. We must advocate for policy decisions that are informed by science and solid data, both of which must align with practical measurement tools and real penalties for not conforming to required metrics. We also participate in the South Florida Water Management District Workshops and Governing Board meetings and the Periodic Science Calls with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Ocean EcoCenter just reached its Topping Out. The construction on our new Ocean EcoCenter building has been ongoing with the addition of the roof trusses, sub-roofing and inside framing. Rough electric and plumbing are underway and there has been no slowdown during this crisis.
During this time of the “Safer at Home” order by Florida’s Governor to stop the spread of COVID-19, Florida Oceanographic has been able to continue our vital mission. There have been so many positive responses to our work under these circumstances and I want to close with a BIG THANK YOU to all of our Team and all of you who are supporting our efforts.