Keeping a Watchful Eye

Tampa Bay: Species of Concern

1.  An endangered species is any plant or animal in immediate danger of becoming extinct.

2.  Habitat destruction, exotic species introduction, exploitation, disease, pollution and limited distribution are ways for a species to become endangered.

3.  Tampa Bay is home to at least seven and than 50 threatened or endangered species found in Florida.

4.  Some of these species include West Indian Manatee, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Gulf Sturgeon and Bay Scallop.

5.  Injuries from speeding watercraft cause 25% of recorded manatee deaths each year. These injuries are a result of motorized recreational vehicles speeding through shallow water as well as designated manatee zones.

6.  The Bay Scallop once thrived as a commercial fishery in Tampa Bay.  Water pollution as well as extensive loss of seagrass beds contributed to their declining numbers.

7.  The Bay Scallop has an average life span of 1-2 years.

8.  Thousand of sea turtles drown each year when they become entangled in ghost nest (nests that are abandoned or lost at sea) or monofilament fishing line.

9.  Coastal armoring such as sea walls are good for protecting beachfront property from erosion. But they prevent female sea turtles from reaching a suitable nesting habitat.

10.  Dams, which have been erected to divert water for human use, block pathways to freshwater spawning sites for the Gulf Sturgeon essentially cutting off its life cycle in Tampa Bay. Sturgeons are also threatened by poachers who kill for high quality and very expensive caviar.