March 10, 2015
MIAMI – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves recently hosted aspiring scientists from the University of Miami. Students worked with staff to gain field experience, which included collecting data on water quality, seagrass and the vast array of wildlife in the Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area at Virginia Key.
“Partnering with local universities to conduct this work benefits both the department and the university, by multiplying staff monitoring efforts, while supporting the students’ growth as future scientists and coastal managers,” said Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Manager Pamela Sweeney.
The Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area was first established in 1990 and expanded in 1993 as a bird, seagrass and manatee sanctuary in the heart of northern Biscayne Bay. The area remains a year-round no-entry zone and, therefore, is heavily monitored by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement and other marine patrol agencies. Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves partners with FWC biologists and has a permit through FWC to survey and document flora and fauna distribution and counts.
“DEP surveys this local treasure quarterly, providing integral information about species diversity and environmental conditions and allowing for educational opportunities on natural resource management,” said Environmental Programs Coordinator Laura Eldredge.
Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves staff will also be partnering with Tropical Audubon Society’s bird experts to conduct bird surveys within the area. Staff are beginning seagrass surveys to further define the significance of this protected area in the management of a wide variety of species.