“Endangered Beach mouse hanging on by a few sea oats – the oil spill”

Sea oats and the  Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse, will they survive?

Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Florida is home to the endangered Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse,

Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse which feeds on the Sea oats that grow there.

Sea oats on Grayton Beach Sea oat seeds along the shore and is found only in a small territory along the Panhandle coast. Grayton about 100 miles east of Pensicola is a protect wetland, estuary and pristine beach area. None of the region's biologists have much experience with a toxic oil spill.

Within the park one of the most critical ecosystems to protect is the estuary system.  In this area fresh and salt waters mix  where the rivers empty into the ocean and form protected bays that grow thick with sea grasses and marshes. These are prime nursing grounds for juvenile aquatic species.
In St. Andrews Bay, the juvenile grouper are so thick that it’s sometimes hard to fish for anything else, Kirkland said.
“Those grass flats are the lifeblood of the system,” he said. “The grouper mature and go out in the Gulf where they are so critical to the commercial and recreational fishing industry.”
The region has five large estuaries, and officials have made protecting them a priority. Plans are forming to string protective booms across passes that connect bays to the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil would smother sea grass beds in the estuaries, destroying habit and leading to devastating chain reaction said Felicia Coleman, director of Florida State University’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory in St. Teresa.
“It could be a really wicked trajectory,” she said.

Now is the time to give thanks for all the people that are spending days and nights monitoring land and sea waiting for the heavy suffocating  oil slime to arrive. Be thankful for the beauty that surrounds us now and so many people caring to help.

Resources
Excerpts
courtesy of   The Herald Tribune
Image 1. courtesy of   Grayton Beach State Park
Image 2. courtesy of  blogspot.com http://bit.ly/cTiTH1

Image 3. courtesy of  http://www.panamacitydiving.com

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