The managers then boarded a 54-ft catamaran and cruised to the Bishop Harbor area along the bay's south shore. During the transit, Mike Crane of the EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, ND, briefly spoke about urban growth and significant changes in land cover and land-use practices over the past 50 years. He described the USGS' highly advanced computer technology in the predictive modeling of future population growth in the Tampa Bay watershed.
Peter Swarzenski (GD, St. Petersburg) and Dan Yobbi (USGS, Water Resources, Tampa) presented their understanding of physical processes at the sediment-water interface. They demonstrated the use of piezometers in sampling ground water.
Terry Edgar (GD, St. Petersburg) and Greg Brooks (Eckerd College, St. Petersburg) discussed their analysis of the geologic record of Tampa Bay. They showed how a vibracorer was an essential tool for obtaining sediment cores in shallow parts of the estuary; they displayed cores and led discussions of their interpretations of the strata.
Wendy Weaver (University of Georgia, Athens), an archeologist, discussed her analysis of Indian middens (shell mounds) located throughout the Mariposa Key area and showed several shell artifacts to the group. Understanding the prehistoric deposits is an important aspect in defining the history of sea-level change in the bay area.
Before the group left Mariposa Key, Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserve manager Randy Runnels outlined the long-term commitment of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to preserve and restore upland and aquatic habitats throughout the bay. Next, participants took a short catamaran trip into Cockroach Bay, after which they were bussed to the Terra Ceia Aquatic and Buffer Preserve.
This part of the field trip showcased research on wetland ecology. Carole McIvor (USGS, Biological Resources, St. Petersburg) discussed how the composition of fish faunas of selected mangrove-lined karst ponds could be directly linked to hydrologic modifications made by mosquito ditching 40 years previously. She exhibited several species of estuarine forage fishes captured from one such pond and discussed how pond conditions might change when mosquito ditches are filled, which is part of the restoration plan.
Sarah Kruse (University of South Florida, Tampa) illustrated how resistivity measurements have been used at Terra Ceia to assess ground conductivity and to infer the salinity of underlying ground water.
At the trip's end, scientists and managers boarded buses for a short ride back home. Their brief tour of Tampa Bay could showcase only a small part of the extensive research that is being performed and that is planned. Understanding the processes within one of the largest estuaries on the Gulf of Mexico is an enormous undertaking that requires the collaboration of numerous disciplines, research agencies, and academia. The managers were shown a glimpse of the diverse scientific elements that have been integrated as a resource for restoration and management of the Tampa Bay estuary.
in this issue:
Tampa Bay Estuary Tour