Pitch in for Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup!

Saturday, March 18 from 9am – noon

Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful & Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, is recruiting volunteers to participate in the Great American Cleanup on Saturday, March 18 from 9am-noon. This event is family-friendly and open to all ages. The majority of the volunteers are needed on land, but you are welcome to bring a canoe or kayak.

Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest community improvement program taking place annually from March 1 through May 31, involving an estimated 2.8 million volunteers across the country. Tampa Bay Watch sees the cleanup as an important way to help clean up human-generated trash in the park as well as marine debris that floats onto the shorelines from Tampa Bay and Gulf of Mexico. 

Click on a site below to register today! 

Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers, Fort De Soto Park, Tampa Bay Watch, Weedon Island Preserve, Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Pete for kayakers only, Palonis Park in Tampa, & Coquina Bayside in Manatee County

We also need one small support boat, like a skiff, to aid kayakers at the Coffee Pot site. Click here to email Rachel if you can volunteer your boat.

Cover Story: For the LOVE of Tampa Bay

In April 2010 the Gulf of Mexico experienced what is now considered to be the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, fishing and tourism industries.

Rudy Consoni, President of Resort Realty/ Resort Rentals has been operating a real estate company specializing in managing vacation properties and renting to visitors from all over the world for 20 years. While some in his industry have had complaints from clients and customers, his company has maintained an A+ rating with the better business bureau. He knows the BP oil spill and the media frenzy that went on for weeks affected his business to some extent, but it bounced back and the tourism business has been great since.

Rudy said his company filed a ‘BP claim’ in 2012 and received a settlement in October 2016. Rudy says “their award was generous, and we are determined to give it back to Mother Nature and to help restore our beautiful environment. We have been corporate members of Tampa Bay Watch for a number of years and have seen the wonderful way they operate.”

Resort Realty/Resort Rentals generously donated $25,000 from their BP settlement and has also committed to donate $10 from every booking that they make over the next year to reach a total donation goal of $50,000 in 2017.  “We’ve already reached $35,000 Rudy says proudly.”

Of the 6,521 Pinellas County claims currently filed with the BP Deep water Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP), 760 have been paid to date for a total of $83,000,000, with an average claim value of $109,000. “Tampa Bay Watch is extremely grateful to receive this generous support from Resort Realty / Resort Rentals,” says Peter Clark, Tampa Bay Watch President,  “These funds will significantly contribute to our ability to restore and protect our Bay waters.”  Of all the places we could donate, why did we choose Tampa Bay Watch?,” Rudy asks.

Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands-on habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.

“Our tourism industry is based on visitors coming here to enjoy the beaches, the weather, fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking and windsurfing” says Rudy. “The quality of the water is a huge part of that. Tampa Bay Watch has been a growing presence here for decades now. Engaging families as volunteers and contributors, they have been planting seagrasses and building oyster beds. They have also been educating school children and visitors through partners like the TradeWinds Resort. They actively monitor the health of Tampa Bay counting scallops, rounding up tarpon, they take part in our communities’ activities and address our water-related challenges. Water is the gold of the future. What could be more important.”

Rudy hopes his donation will set an example for other business people who will be receiving BP settlement checks in coming months. “Assuming all 6,521 claims are paid, Pinellas businesses will receive $711,000,000 over the next two years. Tampa Bay Watch has done so much with so little for so long, imagine what they could accomplish if they had even a tithing of what Pinellas companies receive from BP in the coming couple of years.”

Tampa Bay Watch is proud of its diverse Board of Directors:

  • Kevin Kelso, the Vice President/Regional Manager – Portfolio Management of Hancock Bank as Chairman,
  • Doug Sokolowski, a member of Great Bay Distributors ownership as Vice-Chairman,
  • Mary Ann Renfrow, an owner of the Alden Suites Resort as Treasurer and
  • Mark Chmielewski, Managing Director of United Capital of Tampa Bay as Secretary.

“I am very proud and excited about our new board officers. They are a professional and diverse group of individuals that contribute personally and professionally to support the many existing and new programs,” states Peter Clark, President of Tampa Bay Watch.

“Just think how much bay restoration we could achieve if 10% of the $83,000,000 that has already been received in BP settlements was donated to Tampa Bay Watch”.  “As you may know a clean bay contributes approximately $22 billion to the region’s economy”, said Jamie Serino, Tampa Bay Watch Director of Development.

You can get involved with Tampa Bay Watch too!

Volunteer to help with Native Plantings in Safety Harbor on Sat. Feb 25th from 9 – noon. In partnership with the City of Safety Harbor and Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting 150 volunteers for a native planting in Safety Harbor on the morning of Saturday, February 25 from 9am-noon. The address of the meeting location is 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor, FL 34695.

This project is family-friendly and open to all ages. Tampa Bay Watch in partnership with the City of Safety Harbor and Tampa Bay Estuary Program is recruiting 150 volunteers for a native planting in Safety Harbor on the morning of Saturday, February 25 from 9am – noon. The address of the meeting location is 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor, FL 34695. This project is family-friendly and open to all ages. 

You can also attend the Bay Life Art Exhibit: Feb. 25, 10 am – 2pm Meet Wildlife Artists at the 4th Annual Event The collaborative art exhibit and sale at the Tampa Bay Watch Marine and Education Center is free.  Meet the artists and enjoy a live informational pastel demonstration by one of the Bay Life artists plus kids’ activities. There’s a benefit cocktail reception Feb. 24 5-9 pm; Contact Tampa Baywatch by February 17 to RSVP.(727) 867-8166 x 231 or rzafar@tampabaywatch.org.

For More info call:
Peter Clark, President, www.TampaBayWatch.org
Rachel Arndt, Communications Manager
Jamie Serino, Director of Development
Tampa Bay Watch, 3000 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, FL 33715
(727) 867-8166 x 233 Fax: (727) 867-8188

Rudy Consoni, President
Resort Realty Vacation Rentals (727) 363-3336
8010 Blind Pass Rd., St Pete Beach, FL 33706-1625

Story by Peter Roos
Photos courtesy of Tampa Bay Watch

Volunteer with Tampa Bay Watch in February and March

Native Planting at Fantasy Island

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteers to plant six different native species along the shoreline of Fantasy Island to complement the installed oyster domes and shell bar on March 2 & 3 from 9am – noon. This comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan will slow erosion and provide invaluable habitat and food source for wildlife. The minimum age to participate is 13 years old. 

The meeting location is Williams Park Boat Ramp, 8749 U.S. 41, Riverview, FL 33578. The boat ramp is on the west side of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) where US 41 and the north side of the Alafia River intersect. 

Click on date to register to volunteer: Thursday, March 2Friday, March 3

Help Install an Oyster Shell Bar

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteers to install an oyster shell bar on the shoreline of 2D Island on February 23-24, March 10-11 and March 9 at Fantasy Island from 9am – noon on each day. 

The project involves shoveling fossilized shell into mesh bags, transporting the bags via boat and placing oyster shell bags on the shoreline to create a series of oyster bars. It is pretty physical labor with oyster shell bags weighing around 30 pounds each, therefore the miminum age to participate is 15 years old. The meeting location is Williams Park Boat Ramp, 8749 U.S. 41, Riverview, FL 33578. The boat ramp is on the west side of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) where US 41 and the north side of the Alafia River intersect. 

Click on date to register for this project: Thursday, February 23, Friday, February 24 is already full, Thursday, March 9, Friday, March 10 & Saturday, March 11

Build Oyster Domes

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting 10-20 hard-working volunteers to help build oyster domes at our Marine Center, 3000 Pinellas Bayway South in Tierra Verde. The project takes place on specified weekday mornings from 9 am until noon. The minimum age to participate in this project is 16 years old. The project involves pouring marine-friendly concrete into fiberglass molds to create oyster domes and taking apart the molds that were previously poured.

Oysters need to attach to a hard structure to grow into adults and the rough texture of the domes makes it easier for oysters to grow. Oyster communities help stabilize shorelines, provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. Learn more about the oyster dome program here.

Click one of the dates below to register: February 8February 10February 15, & February 27.

Treasure Island Beach Sign Design Contest

Ahoy artists. The City of Treasure Island is hosting a design competition to create beach signs. The contest is open to everyone ages 10 and older. Help keep beaches healthy and looking good by designing a sign to help promote litter prevention. Finalists will be selected in five categories and have their art featured on one of the City’s new beach information signs.

 Best Overall
 Best Anti-Litter Message
 Best Original
 Best of ages 10 to 14 years old (at the time of submittal)
 Best of ages 15 to 18 year old (at the time of submittal)

Submission Guidelines: Clip and fill out the entry form next to this article. Each entry must be accompanied by a separate entry form.

 The entries must be on a single sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper, landscape.
 Use white, non-glossy paper; do not laminate.
 Any art medium may be used (e.g., colored pencils, crayons, paint); however, computer graphics will not be accepted. Artwork must be hand-drawn.
 Artwork must be flat (e.g., no glued pieces or glitter) and able to be scanned.
 Avoid using brand names in the artwork.
 A description of no more than 75 words must accompany the artwork (space provided on the entry form). Label each entry on the back in pencil (marker bleeds through the artwork)

Artwork should be mailed or delivered to no later than 4 pm March 31. Beach Sign Art Contest, City of Treasure Island – City Hall 120 108th Avenue Treasure Island, FL 33706.

Volunteer with Tampa Bay Watch in 2017

Help Story 2D Island in February

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteers to install an oyster shell bar on the shoreline of 2D Island on February 23 & 24. The project involves shoveling fossilized shell into mesh bags, transporting the bags via boat and placing oyster shell bags on the shoreline to create a series of oyster bars. It is pretty physical labor with oyster shell bags weighing around 30 pounds each, therefore the miminum age to participate is 15 years old. The meeting location for is Williams Park Boat Ramp, 8749 U.S. 41, Riverview, FL 33578. The boat ramp is on the west side of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) where US 41 and the north side of the Alafia River intersect. Click on date to register for this project: Thursday, February 23 & Friday, February 24.

Make Waves in 2017

Suncoast Surfrider Foundation proudly Presents Make Waves, a 2017 community kick off party on Sunday, January 22 from 6-10pm. Discover and engage with your local Tampa Bay community to understand the ways in which you can make waves this year. Jannus Live has graciously donated their epic music venue for this annual party featuring some of the best local music talent the Tampa Bay area has to offer including Jah Movement Reggae Band, Oceanstone, The Rosewoods, Mammoth Moon and more. Live art brought to you by Derek Donnelly & the Donnelly Cove. Over a dozen local non profits and ocean frendly businesses will be on display, as well as a plethora of epic raffle prizes throughout the evening. Click here for more information on the Surfrider Foundation.

Build Oyster Domes

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting 10-20 hard-working volunteers to help build oyster domes at our Marine Center, 3000 Pinellas Bayway South in Tierra Verde. The project takes place on specified weekday mornings from 9 am until noon. The minimum age to participate in this project is 16 years old. The project involves pouring marine-friendly concrete into fiberglass molds to create oyster domes and taking apart the molds that were previously poured. 

Oysters need to attach to a hard structure to grow into adults and the rough texture of the domes makes it easier for oysters to grow. Oyster communities help stabilize shorelines, provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. Learn more about the oyster dome program here.

 Click one of the dates below to register: Monday, January 16Wednesday, January 18Friday, January 20, or Thursday, January 26.

Get your tickets to the Lightning game on February 23 & support Tampa Bay Watch at the same time!  

Tickets are $37 or $40. Each option includes a $20 donation to Tampa Bay Watch. Click here to select your seats. Use Promo Code: BAY

23rd Annual Fishing Line Cleanup with Tampa Bay Watch

Fishing Line Cleanup

The 23rd Annual Fishing Line Cleanup, organized by Tampa Bay Watch and Audubon Florida and sponsored by Sea World Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and Restore America’s Estuaries, was a great success.

Fifty-three volunteers cleaned 44 different sites around Tampa Bay and along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. They removed an estimated 22,106 feet of fishing line and 225 hooks from bird nesting islands & mangrove shorelines. Unfortunately, 52 birds were found to have died because they were entangled in line were found during the cleanup.

Volunteers were able to rescue two pelicans that were found trapped by fishing line in the mangroves. Tampa Bay Watch and Audubon Florida strive to educate anglers to reduce improper disposal of line and to teach fishermen how to release birds accidently caught, with a goal to decrease the amount of fishing line and reduce the number of entangled birds each year.

The cleanup took place throughout the week of Saturday, September 24 – Sunday, October 2, 2016. Volunteers with boats removed tangled line from mangroves and shorelines of assigned bird nesting islands.

Advanced registration on tampabaywatch.org allowed captains and their volunteer crews to remove fishing line from protected bird colonies that otherwise are off-limits to the public. This cleanup, scheduled in the fall when most birds are not nesting, effectively removes fishing line from Tampa Bay and reduces the threat of entanglement for coastal birds and also other marine animals.

Abandoned fishing line is a significant mortality factor in bird colonies. Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists have identified fishing line as the major cause of mortality for adult Brown Pelicans. “Florida’s coastal birds face increasing pressures from habitat loss, human disturbance, and predation; removing fishing line is an easy way to increase their chances of survival,” said Audubon Florida Sanctuary Manager Mark Rachal. “Pelicans, egrets, herons and other iconic coastal birds need our help. We thank our captains and crews who participated in the 23rd Annual Fishing Line Cleanup and made a difference for Tampa Bay’s wildlife.”

SONY DSC

“It’s great to be able to get the community involved in an event to help prevent wildlife entanglements, while also raising awareness about the importance of responsible fishing practices. This event would not be possible without community volunteers generously donating their time and boats, as well as our partners’ collaboration, resources and funding,” said Melinda Spall, Tampa Bay Watch Environmental Specialist.

Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary 727-867-8166m • www.tampabaywatch.org

Audubon Florida & the National Audubon Society are dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitats that support them. 813-623-6826  •  www.audubon.org or  www.fl.audubon.org.

Nature: New Seaside Seabird Sanctuary 

Local birds just got a new ally. Speaking for the new SSS, Andrew von Gontard, President and Executive Director,  recently told loyal supporters, “We are delighted to announce a new path forward for our sanctuary! As of September 1, 2016, we are a completely new organization, now known as Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, formerly Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

“With experienced management, a new board, and leadership from the Busch von Gontard family, who possess a long history of wildlife conservation, we look forward to earning your continued support as we put avian wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and environmental education at the forefront of our mission.”

“The Sanctuary’s daily operations will be headed by Eddie Gayton as Operations Manager, a long-time volunteer who has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation for the past six years. He will be supported by Brian Max Tharp as Business Manager, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, and by a team of passionate and loyal staff and volunteers.

“My family and I are excited to work with Eddie and Brian and the rest of the team to make Seaside Seabird Sanctuary a world-class avian rehabilitation center.”

SSS Tour & Staff

Gayton recently took Paradise News on a tour of the ongoing refurbishing of the Sanctuary, introducing other staff along the way.

Diane Liggieri is the long-time Gift Shop Manager and also fills the vital roles of Volunteer Coordinator and answers all Bird Rescue calls with Jackie Walter as Assistant. “We’re actively recruiting new volunteers to add to our current dozen dedicated weekly rotation,” Diane notes. “Included are rescuers, visitor greeters, bird caregivers, gift shop workers and fundraisers.

Prospective volunteers should call the Gift Shop at 727-391-6211.” Typical of dedicated volunteers is Dylan Kahn, who was cleaning one of the bird pools on his regular weekly shift, and is a long-time Audubon steward. Dani Hall is the Dr. Marie Farr Avian Hospital Supervisor and resident biologist, a graduate of FSU and USF with 30 years experience as an environmental scientist. Keith Wilkins is Hospital Manager and Amy Nulph is Hospital Specialist with Chris Walls as Habitat & Nutrition Specialist.

Dani told Paradise News, “We’ve ended captive breeding by segregating the male and female pelicans. Young pelicans from birth can’t be continually around people as they can never be released into the wild. We are releasing a handful of our injured and rehabbed birds every few weeks, typically on Tuesday.  We’re also no longer feeding wild bird visitors as our new enclosure netting is doing a great job of keeping them away and significantly lowering our food costs. Our white pelicans are doing well, including our patriarch George, a favorite of visiting kids with school groups.”

Eddie showed off the refurbished Education Center, which is actively involved in getting school trips again, with more bookings already set for the new year.  “We were involved in the Great American Teach-In this past fall,” he notes, “and are getting more home-schooled kids as well as classes from both public and private schools.”

“In addition to the new netting covering all the bird pens, the Sanctuary has refurbished the outdoor rehab pens for injured birds, and an arborist is coming soon to trim back and take care of all our trees. We’re also set to completely re-do the outdoor deck that overlooks the beach and Gulf, and is an ideal setting for birthdays, engagement parties, weddings and corporate events.”

“Our permanent resident birds on display include a Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Barn Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Red Shouldered Hawk and Isis (Goddess of Nature) our Red-Tailed Hawk, here since 1990 and believed to be the oldest in captivity. Nujay, our Blue Jay, does his “Meow” on cue (sometimes) and has his own YouTube video.”

Wish List & Donation Options

“We are planning a grand opening to the community as Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in the first quarter, to ensure our partners and supporters know about the work we’re doing and the ongoing needs to continue our mission.

“These needs include an X-ray machine to allow us to better serve the birds we rescue, a utility van to aid in the rescue of injured animals and release of the rehabilitated wildlife, and assistance updating our pool systems, which are critical for our sanctuary birds’ well-being, comfort and enrichment.”

“Among perfect gifts for the new year, we have Engraved Bricks for our donor walkway, with three lines for $100. You can become a Feeding Sponsor for any of our birds, with most at $2 for 1 day, $6 for 3 days or $10 for 5 days. You can Adopt a Bird at $25 a month for birds of prey; $20 a month for pelicans or other large water birds; or $15 a month for small water or land birds. All gifts are available on our new website at www.seabirdsanctuary.com.”

“We’re currently open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, with free admission and always appreciated visitor donations. “We offer tours to 10 or more on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday with prior confirmation by booking through the Gift Shop. Pelican Feeding is daily at 2 pm, weather permitting.

“We look forward to welcoming old – and new friends of our current 120 feathered inhabitants at our new Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.  With your continuing help as volunteers and donations, we will fulfill our goals to care for and rehab injured birds and educate the public about wildlife and the environment. With a very optimistic outlook for the new year, we encourage you to make your visit to us one of your top New Year’s resolutions for 2017!” PN

STORY by STEVE TRAIMAN

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary Staff:

  • Eddie Gayton, Operations Manager
  • Dani Hall, Avian Hospital Supervisor
  • Diane Liggieri, Gift Shop Manager
  • Amy Nulph, Avian Hospital Specialist
  • Brian Max Tharp, Business Manager
  • Jackie Walker, Habitat & Nutrition Specialist
  • Keith Wilkins, Avian Hospital Manager

Pinellas Christmas Tree Recycling

Residents are encouraged to recycle their Christmas trees this holiday season. Recycled trees can be processed into useful mulch. To prepare Christmas trees for recycling, residents must remove all decorations, including hooks, garland, tinsel and lights.

It is important to not place the trees in a bag or trash can, but rather leave them loose for pick-up. Residents who live in apartments and condominiums should consult with their property managers for disposal instructions.

The following cities offer Christmas tree recycling:

CLEARWATER: Curbside collection with yard waste on regular day. For information, call (727) 562-4920.

DUNEDIN: Curbside collection with yard waste on regular day from Monday, Dec. 26, to Friday, Jan. 13. Residents without curbside yard waste pickup can plan a pick-up day with their association property manager. For information, call (727) 298-3215, ext. 1328.

GULFPORT: Place tree at curb or alley for regularly scheduled Wednesday yard waste pick-up.  Do Not bag or place tree in can. For multiple-dwelling units, place your tree near the dumpster without blocking access to it. Trees will be chopped and processed into mulch, then made available to residents at the Gulfport Neighborhood Center, located at 1617 49th St. S. For more information, call (727) 893-1089.

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH: Curbside collection with yard waste on Wednesdays. For information, call (727) 595-6889.

LARGO: Place trees at curb on your regularly-scheduled yard waste day. Please do not place trees at the curb in bags or with decorations attached. For more information, call (727) 587-6760 or visit www.largorecycles.com.

MADEIRA BEACH: Curbside collection with yard waste on Wednesdays. For more information, call (727) 543-8154.

OLDSMAR: Drop off at 107 Shore Drive W., across from Park Boulevard. Open from Monday, Dec. 26, to Friday, Jan. 13. For more information, call (813) 749-1266. Drop-off locations will be available Mondays to Sundays, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

PINELLAS PARK: Drop off at the city’s brush site at 12950 40th St. N., Mondays to Sundays, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or place curbside where it will be collected with regular garbage. For more information, call (727) 369-0690.

SAFETY HARBOR: Cardboard recycling is collected during residents’ recycling day. Cardboard must fit in the 64-gallon recycling container. Christmas tree is recycled with yard waste on Wednesdays. No lights, tinsel or plastic bags. For more information, call (727) 724-1550.

ST. PETERSBURG:

Drop off at the St. Petersburg brush sites:
– 1000 62nd Ave. N.E.
– 7750 26th Ave. N.
– 2500 26th Ave. S.
– 4015 Dr. MLK Jr. St. S.
– 2453 20th Ave. N.

You can also put your tree out for curbside collection by Friday, Jan. 13. If your tree has not been picked up by Jan. 14, call (727) 893-7398. Please place the tree no closer than 3 feet beside the garbage container in the usual collection location (curb or alley).

TARPON SPRINGS: Drop off at Yard Waste facility located at 898 S. Levis Ave. for a fee or put out for curbside collection with yard waste on regular day. For more information, call (727) 943-4837.

TREASURE ISLAND: Curbside collection with yard waste on regular day. For more information, call (727) 547-4575, ext. 253.

The following cities do not offer Christmas tree recycling: Belleair, Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shore, Indian Shores, Kenneth City, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, Seminole, South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach. Trees will be picked up at curbside. Although the tree will not be recycled, it will be collected and converted into energy at Pinellas County’s Waste-to-Energy Facility.

Residents of cities that do not offer tree recycling or residents living in unincorporated Pinellas County can recycle a tree by dropping it off at Pinellas County Solid Waste at 3095 114th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. The cost is $3 per load for a maximum of five trees. The cost for six or more trees is $37.50 per ton. The facility is open Monday to Friday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A flier about Christmas tree recycling is available here. For more information about recycling in Pinellas County, visit www.pinellascounty.org/recycle.

Membership: The Perfect Last Minute Gift

LOWRY PARK ZOO:

Individual, Couple and Family Passes available. All passes include one free guest admission. Get yours today at http://www.lowryparkzoo.org/involvement/join.

Benefits

  • Unlimited admissions for all members (no blockout days) for 12 full months from the date of purchase.
  • One free guest with each membership.
  • Unlimited access to our 2016 seasonal event series (new Sunset Celebration, ​new ​Creatures of the Night and new Christmas in the Wild).
  • Preferred parking (based on availability).
  • Discounts on Zoo dining, shopping and education programs.
  • Discounts on separate ticket events.
  • Invitations to special member-only events.
  • $5 off admission for visiting friends and relatives.
  • Free or discounted admission to over 150 zoos and aquariums in the U.S. and SWAPtember privileges (see below for details).

*Membership accounts must contain at least one adult member. Family Plus children are dependents between the ages of 3 and 17. Memberships include one guest privilege. Guest add-on’s can be purchased for $40 at the Zoo’s Member Relations window with proof of membership, or by calling (813) 935-8552 ext. 0. Cardholder must accompany guest. Prices subject to change without notice. 

Information courtesy of Lowry Park Zoo.

FLORIDA AQUARIUM

Annual Passes available for 1-8 people ranging in price from $60-$205. Get your Florida Aquarium Annual Pass today at http://www.flaquarium.org/annual-pass/purchase-annual-pass-membership.aspx.

Benefits

  • FREE Aquarium admission for 1 year
  • Annual subscription to WaterColors,  electronic newsletter (more info)
  • Free parking during regular hours as available & for annual pass/member events
  • SHARE Program and AZA Reciprocal program benefits (free and discounted admission to more than 150 attractions, restaurants and retail establishments)
  • Discounts at Café Ray (20%), The Caribbean Cantina (20%), the Gift Shop (10%), & Sharpshooter ($5 off $30 photo package)
  • Discounts on Education programs, birthday parties and camps, and Aquarium sponsored special events
  • Discounts on Wild Dolphin Cruise & Behind the Scenes Tours
  • Discounts on Guest Dive Experiences (Dive with the Sharks & Swim with the Fishes)
  • Annual Pass/Membership Card – you will receive one (1) card per household for all categories

* Primary members, those listed on your membership card, are limited to members of a single household. Primary members must be 16 years of age or older and provide photo ID.

Information courtesy of The Florida Aquarium.

MOTE MARINE LAB AND AQUARIUM

Mote offers annual passes for 1-12 individuals for one or two years starting at $60. Please call 941-388-4441 ext. 373 to purchase a gift membership.

Benefits

  • Admission with your guests to Mote Aquarium for one year.
  • Reciprocal benefits granting Mote Members discounted admission to more than 100 zoos, aquariums and gardens across the country and in Canada and Mexico. Download our reciprocal list here.
  • Exclusive special events for Mote Members during Member Appreciation Month every September.
  • Discounts on most purchases at Mote Aquarium gift shops, on education programs (including summer camps and family programs), on children’s birthday parties, Breakfast at Mote for adults and on the Sarasota Bay Explorers boat cruise.
  • Complimentary admission to the annual Special Lecture Series. The Special Lecture Series is an evening lecture series featuring renowned scientists and experts speaking on many fascinating marine-related topics. Lectures are normally scheduled between March and April.
  • Subscription to Mote publications: Mote E-News (a monthly e-mail newsletter of Mote happenings) and Mote Magazine (a printed publication covering the stories of Mote’s sea science research).
  • Early registration for Mote summer camps.
  • Your Mote Membership is 100% tax-deductible!

Information Courtesy of Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium.

CLEARWATER MARINE AQUARIUM

CMA offers memberships for 1-20 individuals starting at $50. Purchase a membership today at https://tickets.seewinter.com/.

Benefits:

  • Free general admission to Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • Discounts on boat tours, kids camps, birthday parties and other events
  • Invitations to Member Only events
  • 10% discount in the gift shop
  • Membership discounts on camps only apply to members at the family of 4 level or greater.

Information courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

THE DALI

The Dali offers museum memberships for individuals ($50), couples ($80) and families ($100). Get your today at http://thedali.org/get-involved/membership-2/.

Benefits

  • Unlimited FREE admission! Skip the lines and visit anytime.
  • FREE parking (as space available).
  • Invitations to private exhibition receptions.
  • Preview days to view exhibits before they open to the public.
  • Private shopping events.
  • Special discounts just for members at select local merchants.
  • Free or discounted tours, films and other programming.
  • 15% discount in The Dali Museum Store.
  • 10% discount at Café Gala.
  • Monthly membership e-newsletter.
  • A $5 admissions discount for guests accompanying members.
  • Reciprocal free admission to select museums and attractions.

Information courtesy of The Dali.

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

MFA St. Pete offers memberships for individuals and families starting at $60. Purchase yours today at http://mfastpete.org/join/membership/.

Holiday Offer: MFA St. Pete is offering 1/2 OFF for NEW members only! Contact MFA St. Pete Member Services at (727) 896-2667, ext. 248for more information about getting your 2017 membership today!

Individual Pass Benefits:

  • Free admission every day of the week
  • Reciprocal admission to all Southeastern (SERM) museums
  • 10% Discount in the Museum Store
  • 10% Discount in the MFA Café
  • Access to new gallery openings in advance of opening to the public
  • Exclusive invitations to special exhibitions, concerts, lectures, programs and events
  • Discounts on ticketed events, workshops and lecture series
  • Quarterly issues of the MFA Member magazine MOSAIC
  • Weekly electronic news of upcoming activities in MFA HAPPENINGS
  • Priority for volunteer opportunities in Museum programs and projects
  • Access and use of the Museum’s art reference library

Information courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg.

THE RINGLING

The Ringling offers museums memberships for individuals ($75), couples ($125), and family ($135). Purchase yours today at https://www.ringling.org/general-membership.

Benefits

  • One year of unlimited free Admission
  • Priority entrance via Member Service Desk
  • Free Admission to Thursday Art After 5
  • Free Admission to Ringling by the Bay
  • Free Admission to Joseph’s Coat Turrell Skyspace Sunset Experience
  • Free Ca’ d’Zan tours of the first and second floors
  • Invitations to exclusive Members Preview events
  • 15% discount at Museum restaurants and cafés
  • 10% discount on Museum store purchases
  • 50% discount on Ca’ d’Zan Private Places tours
  • Member for a Day guest passes for a reduced rate of $15
  • Discounts on select classes, programs, and ticketed events
  • Members only travel opportunities
  • Subscription to The Ringling magazine and The Ringling e-newsletters

Information courtesy of The Ringling Museum.

MOSI

The Museum of Science and Industry offers dual, 5-pack and 8-pack memberships. Purchase yours today at http://www.mosi.org/members/.

Benefits

  • FREE parking at MOSI
  • FREE admission to more than 250 ASTC science centers
  • FREE or DISCOUNTED admission to multiple local attractions
  • FREE admission to The Florida Aquarium and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo during Swaptember
  • 10% off every purchase in the ELEMENTS Gift Shop and Everything’s FreshSM Café
  • DISCOUNTS on MOSI Science Camps, birthday parties, and education programs
  • DISCOUNTED admission to more than 200 children’s museums nationwide
  • EXCLUSIVE pricing on special events
  • Special Member pricing for special engagement exhibitions and IMAX® films
  • 25% off guest admission to MOSI

Information courtesy of MOSI.

gift

ST. PETERSBURG MUSEUM OF HISTORY

St. Petersburg Museum of History offers memberships for individuals and families starting at $50. Get a gift membership today at http://spmoh.com/get-involved/membership/.

Benefits

  • Admission to museum exhibitions, and archival library with membership card.
  • Invitations for you and a guest for previews, receptions, programs, parties, workshops and special events.
  • Periodic membership newsletter and activities calendar.
  • Schedule of upcoming classes and workshops.

Information courtesy of St. Petersburg Museum of History.

Watch Out for Migrating Manatees!

please-slow-manatees-belowManatee numbers are up and these bulky aquatic mammals are on the move this month! The annual migration of Florida manatees begins in November, as the weather cools and Manatee Awareness Month is celebrated.

Watch out for manatees swimming in Florida’s rivers, bays or coastal waters. Keep in mind this time of year manatees are searching for warmer waters to help them survive winter’s cold.

With the onset of the manatee migration, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds people in boats and personal watercraft to slow down to avoid manatees, particularly in shallow areas. Many seasonal manatee protection zones go into effect as of November 15.

Adult manatees weigh about 1,000 pounds but can be difficult to see, especially when just below the water’s surface. Manatees are easier to spot if boaters wear polarized sunglasses and keep a lookout for signs of manatees such as the circular  “footprints” they trace on the top of the water.

Manatee numbers are up. In February 2016, the FWC announced 6,250 manatees were counted in an aerial survey of Florida waters. While that is good news, there have been 91 manatee fatalities caused by boat strikes so far in 2016.

“Boaters who slow down and keep a lookout for Florida manatees are an important reason the overall population of this species is doing better,” said Carol Knox, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management section. “Remember, it is especially important to watch out for manatees during Manatee Awareness Month in November, as they begin their annual migration to warmer waters.”

The FWC spends about $2 million a year on manatee conservation, including research, rescue, management and public education efforts, and works in partnership with agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service on manatee issues. Floridians contribute to manatee conservation when they purchase the “Save the Manatee” license plate at BuyaPlate.com or donate $5 for the manatee decal.

For information about manatee protection zones by county, including the seasonal changes, go to MyFWC.com/Manatee and click on  “Data and Maps.”

At the bottom of that same page, there is also information on FWC Manatee cold-weather changes to speed zones. FWC law enforcement officers will be on the water enforcing these seasonal rules to protect manatees in busy boating areas.

Report sightings of injured, sick or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922, #FWC and *FWC on a cell phone, or with a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.

Want to see a manatee? Go to MyFWC.com/Manatee and click on  “Where can I see Manatees?”