Saturday, May 1, 2021

April Updates from the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute



fwri research banner


16-Foot Sawfish Found in Keys is Longest Recorded Since Research Began


FWC sawfish biologists responded to sawfish hotline reports of two large smalltooth sawfish that died in the Florida Keys this week. One was a mature 16-foot female that weighed an estimated 800-1000 pounds and the other was an immature female 12 feet, 4 inches long and weighed an estimated 400-500 pounds. The 16-foot sawfish (pictured) is the longest measured by scientists since research began on the species. There was no obvious cause of death for either sawfish; however, valuable life history information was and will continue to be collected from both carcasses due to the swift response from Keys-based FWC staff and Monroe County Sheriff's Office - Florida Keys to secure the carcass for study. Sawfish biologists are working to learn as much as possible from samples they collected. For example, the vertebrae will be used to determine the ages of both sawfish, the DNA will be sequenced to compare to other sawfish that have been studied throughout Florida, and the length at maturity for females will be fine-tuned based on these data.

How can you help the endangered smalltooth sawfish? If you see or catch a sawfish, let us know:
-Call our sawfish hotline: 844-4SAWFISH
-Submit a report through the FWC Reporter app.

Activity was conducted pursuant to NMFS ESA Permit No. 21043


Participate in the St. Joe Bay Sea Urchin Roundup, May 22nd

Bring your own boat, gloves, and snorkeling gear and join us in removing sea urchins from seagrass beds! FWC will provide maps and gps locations showing where to collect urchins and buckets to put them in. Return buckets filled with urchins to our check-in station and get some swag. Staff will relocate the urchins to deeper water away from seagrass. Check-in begins at 8:00 AM, and all urchins must be turned in by 5:00 PM. Please check in with an FWC or DEP employee to get your bucket and sign a volunteer waiver. Urchins should be returned in this bucket with seawater to be safely relocated by FWC or DEP employees. Rain date is June 5, 2021. For more information about the event, email


Black Bear Dens in Florida

Between early December and late January, most female black bears in Florida create winter dens where they birth and nurse cubs; bears in southern Florida appear to den a few weeks later than bears in the rest of the state. Dens are made in a variety of plant communities, from dry oak scrub, mesic flatwoods, or forested swamps. The type of bear den most often found by FWRI bear researchers is a soft “nest” created from leaf litter, like pine needles or chewed saw palmetto fronds. The other common den types observed are large tree cavity dens, and holes dug into the ground just large enough to fit an adult bear. A few unusual dens found over the years include a notch between two horizontal saw palmetto trunks, a flat space created by multiple spreading oak branches, and the stumps of large trees that, provided horizontal cover but no shelter from the weather. Regardless of the den type, bears look for somewhere hidden to keep young cubs safe in the critical first few months of life.


Help FWC Biologists Monitor Suburban Sandhill Cranes

Parental acceptance of lost or abandoned chicks from sandhill crane pairs is very rare because cranes fiercely defend their territories. However, adoptions can happen. Recently, FWC biologists observed a sandhill crane pair feeding three chicks, one of which is much younger than the other two. Biologists suspect the youngest chick was adopted by the adults. Help FWC biologists monitor suburban sandhill cranes. If you see a color-banded sandhill crane, please report it to: Include: band color information, location, time and if possible, a photo.


Manatee Mating Herd Awareness

Andy Garrett, FWC Manatee Rescue Coordinator, was called out to observe a group of manatees that were sighted at a park in Safety Harbor. It was determined to be a mating herd with multiple manatees very close to shore. Manatee mating herds occur when several bulls (males) pursue a cow (female) until she is ready to mate. It's very common to see mating herds in Florida waters during the spring and summer months, if you encounter a herd, it's important to watch from a distance as these large, strong animals are focused on mating. If you see a manatee in distress, please report it to our FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-3922.

New on

We hope you enjoy these articles that have been recently added/updated on our website:

Amphibians and Reptiles Publications
Annual Manatee Rescue Summaries  
2021 Manatee Mortalities
Red Tide Manatee Mortalities
Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force Meeting Information
Internship Opportunities
New Publications
Seagrass Protection and Restoration in St. Joseph Bay
Stone Crab Catch Data
Coral Rescue: News and Updates

Our Mission

Through effective research and technical knowledge, we provide
timely information and guidance to protect, conserve, and manage
Florida's fish and wildlife resources.

No comments:

Post a Comment