What is an estuary? Its where a fresh water from the land meets the salt water from the sea. They are commonly called bays and harbors. They are also called the nursery of the sea. This is where many babies are born, from shrimp to the fish that we eat, all the way up to manatees and dolphins. Steams and rivers that run into the ocean carry vital nutrients into the sea. Many of us don’t know how important these habitats are for the ocean. These are actually one of the most productive ecosystems on this planet. Much of the Florida wildlife would not be able to survive without them. In fact 97 percent of the commercial marine fish in the gulf of mexico are dependent on an estuary at some point in their lives. Many of the animals that form the base of the ocean food chain live in estuaries. I am fortunate enough to live and spend a lot of my time in these beautiful habitats here in Panama City Beach. As a boat captain, I think it is my responsibility to respect the wildlife in these places, and educate people on the conservation of theses areas. What can you do to help?
Shelling, is a hobby of many people that come to Florida, but please, do not take anything that may be alive. When you take one animal, it effects the entire ecosystem all the way up to the larger animals like the dolphins. Also, please only take the fish you will eat. Do not waste any resources.
Keep pesticides and fertilizers to a minimum, streams that carry nutrients can carry large amounts of pesticides and other poisons into the bay. This can result in a large amount of fish dying in a early stages of life or can cause absorption of these particles which can cause serious problems in larger animals that are dependent on fish, like dolphins and can even cause serious health problems in humans.
Pick up your trash. Animals will ingest and get tangled in garbage such as trash bags and fishing line. This will often be fatal to them. Please keep our beaches clean.