Invasive Air Potato and its Biological Control

On July 21, 2017 Elise Schuchman (Florida Department of Agriculture) gave an informative presentation on the invasive air potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifera), and efforts to control it using a biological agent.

Air potatoes are members of the yam family and are native to Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Air potatoes can now be found throughout Florida and are considered an extremely aggressive invasive species. The vine was added to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Noxious Weed List in 1999.

A classic method of biological control involves finding an organism that feeds exclusively on the invasive plant and then releasing it in the invaded area. Once established the control agent will provide long-term suppression of the plant.

Scientists with the US Department of Agriculture identified a beetle (Lilioceris cheni) in Nepal and China that feeds on air potato leaves. There is now a program in Florida to use this beetle to control the air potato. If you have air potato on your property you can obtain beetles free of charge. To learn more about the program and instructions for ordering beetles visit

Horseshoe Crab Tag Program

Attention Beachgoers: Help scientists collect data on nesting horseshoe crabs by reporting tagged animals.

If you see a tagged crab (like the ones in the photo):

  1. Snap a picture of the tag or record the tag # (number is on the bottom of tag).
  2. Note the date, location, and general condition of the crab (alive or dead).
  3. Report data using the online form at ( or by calling 1-888-546-8587 (1-888-LIMULUS).

Important: DO NOT remove the tag. When recording the tag #, try to limit disturbance to the crab. Try not to pick the crab up and if you must pick it up, NEVER pick it up by the tail.

Collected data goes into a national database maintained by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and contributes to knowledge about horseshoe crab movements and population numbers.

PBS Video

The Forgotten Coast: Return to Wild Florida video was recommended by one of our speakers. This great show aired in April 2017. You can currently view the video online at the PBS web site:

Following in the footsteps of a wandering Florida black bear, three friends leave civilization and enter a lost American wilderness on a rugged thousand-mile journey by foot, paddle and bike. Traversing Florida’s vast and seldom seen “Forgotten Coast,” the expedition encounters stunning and rare wildlife including black bears, manatees, alligators, ancient river fish and endangered woodpeckers – all living within a fragile wildlife corridor stretching from the Everglades to the Florida-Alabama border.

This video was produced by Grizzly Greek Films and presented by PBS/WUSF.

Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge – Bird Rookeries

Vic Doig give a great talk on July 11, 2017. He started his presentation with a general discussion about the Cedar Keys & Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuges. The last half of his talk was about the Cedar Keys bird rookeries and other area birds. We had some knowledgable birders in the audience. They easily identified the birds of Vic’s pop quiz.

Vic is a Fire Management Officer & Wildlife Biologist with the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys Natural National Wildlife Refuges. He is also a member of the WGP Advisory Committee.

Help Stop Seagrass Scarring

Seagrasses are extremely important habitat for the fish, scallops, manatees, turtles, birds and other species that support the coastal tourism economy in Florida’s Nature Coast. Seagrass scarring by propellers, anchors, and vessel groundings is 100% preventable, and yet is a growing problem in Florida.

The University of Florida has started a campaign to raise awareness about seagrass scarring caused by boating. They are calling this campaign “Be Seagrass Safe”.

To learn more visit the “Be Seagrass Safe” web site:

Marine Animal Rescue

The University of Florida Marine Animal Rescue is a a non-profit organization funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the College of Veterinary Medicine Aquatic Animal Health Program, UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, and the Cedar Key Dolphin Project.

The Rescue Program responds to sick, injured, and deceased marine mammals in Levy, Dixie, and Taylor counties of the Big Bend. They coordinate rescues of live animals and, if possible, transport them to rehabilitation facilities. They also perform necropsies (animal autopsies) on deceased marine animals to determine their cause of death and learn more about their anatomy, physiology, and the health of their ecosystem.

To report a sick, injured, or deceased marine animal, call or text the 24-hour UF Marine Animal Rescue Hotline at 352-477-0344 or the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-407-3922. Be prepared to give your location (address, GPS, or waterway marker), animal involved (dolphin, whale, manatee, sea turtle), number of animals and their condition (alive, dead, injured or distressed).

If you are interested in volunteer opportunities contact Mackenzie Russell, at

Back to Africa

We had a small but enthusiastic crowd come out on Earth Day to hear a presentation by Libby Cagle and Roger McDaniels about their most recent trip to Africa. Libby showed slides of the species they encountered and recounted details of their 50 day trip to Kenya, Madagascar, and Tanzania. This included how Libby broke her leg while being chased by a lion… not really. But you’ll have to ask her how she really did it.​

The View is Back


As visitors will tell you one of the most striking features of the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve are its views. Whether you are on top of the observation tower, out at the dock, or on the bridge at the salt pond the views are stunning. The one exception was the view from the Education Center conference room. The reason for this was that the picture window looking west toward the Gulf was damaged.

The Friends started raising funds to replace the window in 2016. Thanks mostly to a single, very generous donation the window has been replaced. This time-lapse video shows the installation. The view is back!

Thanks to everyone who made a contribution and helped us meet our goal. Special thanks to the anonymous donor whose single contribution allowed us to make repairs much sooner then we thought possible.



Audubon Bird Guide App

The Audubon Society has a free, award-winning field guide app. Versions are available for Apple iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle. To learn more visit:

As you visit the Preserve checkout the Nearby Observations feature of the app. To access this feature select Find Birds with eBird from the app Home menu. Select Yankeetown as your location and then Nearby Observations for a list of recent sightings.

Colonial Nesting Birds of the Nature Coast

We had a great turnout at the Preserve on January 21, 2017 for Ann Paul’s talk on Colonial Nesting Birds. Thanks Ann!

Ann, a native Floridian, has worked for Audubon’s Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries (FCIS) since 1991 and is the Tampa Bay Regional Coordinator. Ann is an expert in waterbird populations and management of coastal habitats for wildlife. She currently serves on the board of the Tampa Bay Conservancy and is past president of the Tampa Audubon Society.