Tag Archives: stuart on the st lucie

Goliath Grouper, an Historic and Easy Kill, Ready to Happen Again? SLR/IRL

The population increase of the Goliath Grouper is one of those rare “feel-good” conservation success stories. With the help of a 1990 law of protection, the species has come back from being historically over-hunted.

I was recently contacted by advocate goliath grouper protectionist, Ms. Katie Carlsson, who spurned my interest in the debate to “reopen hunting on the species.” I also knew I could share my mother’s plethora of historic St Lucie River “Jew Fish” photos labeled such during the non-politically correct era that was part of my childhood and before. In today’s blog post the original terminology is used in the photographs as documented.

Now for today’s “Goliath Grouper!”

I wanted to speak up for Katie’s cause, questioning the reopening of the hunt.  She has forward much information on FWC meeting dates, etc. Thank you Katie.

Before presenting you with many links to explore and opinions to read, I will say, that according to the Snook Foundation, “vast technological improvements in spear guns and diving equipment in the 1960s and 1970s made no wreck, cave or hole safe for Goliath grouper to hide. They have few natural predators and little fear of divers.They are easy prey.”

Of course anglers have the right to argue that the grouper in some areas, like South Florida, have been perhaps “too successful” and believe hunting should be reopened.

My question is if the giant fish will basically look you in the eye and let you kill it, or if there is a question as to the efficacy of the conservation program, why do it? There are so many other fish in the sea. 

Snook Foundation article: http://snookfoundation.org/news/38-general/667-goliath-groupers-harvest-them-or-protect-them.html

These are the locations and dates for future hearings:

Oct. 9: Jacksonville, Pablo Creek Regional Library, 13295 Beach Blvd.
Oct. 10: Titusville, American Police Hall of Fame & Museum, 6350 Horizon Drive.
Oct. 11: Stuart, Flagler Place, 201 SW Flagler Ave.
Oct. 12: Davie, Old Davie School Historical Museum, 6650 Griffin Road.
Oct. 16: Pinellas Park, Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure, 9501 U.S. Highway 19 N.
Oct. 17: Port Charlotte, The Cultural Center of Charlotte County, 2280 Aaron St.
Oct. 18: Naples, Collier County Public Library – South Regional, 8065 Lely Cultural Parkway
Oct. 25: Tallahassee, FWC Bryant Building, Room 272, 600 S. Meridian St. (6-9 p.m. ET)

More info on meetings here: FWC Goliath Grouper: http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/goliath-grouper/

Man with Goliath Grouper, photo of Harold R. Johns family, c. 1925, St Lucie River, from the archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Fishermen with Goliath Grouper, Stuart, Florida photo of Harold R. Johns family, c.1925, St Lucie River,  from the archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Goliath Grouper caught near today’s Roosevelt Bridge in downtown Stuart c. 1920. Photo of Homer Hines Stuart Jr. from the archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow. (This photo is similar to the one below.)
“This photograph of jewfish suspended from a pole resting on a Florida East Coast Railway car was taken in what was called the hole, a rail spur that went down to the St Lucie River near the Stuart freight depot. (Homer Hines Stuart Jr.)From page 50 of “Stuart on the St Lucie” by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
“This postcard illustrates the use of President Grover Clevland’s name to promote Stuart. Joseph Jefferson, a famous actor of the day, also fished in the St Lucie River region” in the early late 1800s. Cleveland was president 1885-89 and again in 1893-97. (Photo courtesy of page 51 of “Stuart on the St Lucie” by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Photo by Earl Dyer Ricou, Stuart, Fl,  c. 1950. (Archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
A dead Goliath Grouper that washed ashore near Bathtub Beach in Martin County, 2011. Goliath Grouper do not spaun until approximately six years of age and are believed to be able to live from 50 to even 100 years of age. They can weigh over 800 pounds. JTL
My corgi, Baron, gives perspective to the size of a Goliath Grouper. 2011, JTL
Courtney of “Fishens Magazine.” Photo taken prior to restrictions put in place in the 1990s. History shows, unfortunately, it is the nature of people to take more than they need.

Links from Katie Carlsson:

Lake Worth Hearing Article: http://www.wpbf.com/article/future-of-goliath-grouper-unclear/11648857

Panama City Articles: http://www.wjhg.com/content/news/440970113.html; http://www.newsherald.com/news/20170821/limited-goliath-grouper-harvest-considered

Florida Channel:

http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/2817-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission-part-1/

http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/2817-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission-part-2/

http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/2817-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission-part-3/

http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/2817-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission-part-4/

This is a link to the hearing in Key Largo. If anyone goes to hearings this can prepare them for what to expect and the information that FFWC is sharing.

http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/8317-florida-fish-wildlife-conservation-commission-goliath-grouper-workshop/

Another good contact is jim_abernethy on Instagram.
http://cbs12.com/news/local/south-florida-conservationist-fights-to-protect-goliath-grouper

This is an article on the commercial diving business point of view- http://www2.padi.com/blog/2017/08/07/goliath-grouper-may-lose-protection-florida/

This is an article to show that Goliaths are already being sold off to wealthy hunters. The CEO of Bass Pro Shops removed four of these fish from the population for a Sporting and Hunting museum he is building in Missouri. These fish are now lost genetically. How many of them died in transit?
http://www.tcpalm.com/story/sports/outdoors/fishing/2017/07/07/goliath-groupers-stuart-ready-move-midwest/457578001/

A post from Dr. Sylvia Earle’s “Mission Blue:”

In the earlier part of the last century, Atlantic goliath groupers were abundant from Florida to Brazil and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. If you have been lucky enough to be in the water with these creatures, then you appreciate their unflappable personality and awe-inspiring size, which reaches up to 8 feet and 1,000 pounds. The goliath grouper has no natural predators besides large sharks and humans. We are writing with regards to the latter.

Goliath groupers reached commercial extinction in the late 1980s. For this reason, in 1990 a federal and state ban on killing them was implemented for U.S. federal waters and state waters of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, followed by a 1993 ban in the U.S. Caribbean. Twenty-seven years of protection have led to a population increase, although not a recovery to pre-exploitation levels, in the state of Florida alone. Spawning aggregations are forming again off the east coast of Florida. It’s the only place in the world where goliath groupers are now reliably found in significant numbers, as juveniles in mangroves, and as adults in reefs, solitary or forming spawning aggregations. People come from all over the nation and the world to see the goliath grouper spawning aggregations in the late summer, bringing big dollars that boost local economies.

“Diving in the Palm Beaches back in the late 1980s, to see a goliath grouper was the holy grail. Many of us dove year after year, and saw perhaps one, maybe none,” said Deb Castellana of Mission Blue. “To witness the resurgence of the species since protections were enacted has been heartening, a real story of hope.”

Yet, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is currently considering allowing the limited take of goliath groupers in state waters. The proposal would allow the killing of 100 goliath groupers per year for 4 years, for a total of 400 goliath groupers. The sizes targeted are breeding individuals. If implemented, the kill will exterminate most of Florida’s breeding population of goliath groupers, destroying 27 years of conservation management effort. This “limited take” is not supported by scientific evidence. Critics of the goliath grouper say the species is overeating and responsible for declining fish and lobster stocks. Yet, actual scientific data from researchers like Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. show that overfishing, not the goliath groupers, is the reason for declining fish and lobster stocks.

Some say that a “sustainable” take of goliath groupers is possible, but many scientists agree that the current population would not last more than one, or perhaps two years after opening the fishery. And groupers have no nutritional value for humans since they contain levels of mercury that are unsafe for human consumption according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Health.

“I repeatedly asked what scientific evidence the FWC has to support killing the goliath groupers, because all scientific research published to date does not support a fishery for this species and shows the species is highly conservation dependent and highly vulnerable to overfishing,” said Dr. Frias-Torres. “Many don’t realize that goliath groupers actually eat predators of juvenile lobsters, allowing more lobsters to grow to legal size and making more lobsters available to fishers.”

Don DeMaria, a local professional diver, adds, “the annual goliath grouper spawning aggregations that occur off the coast of South Florida are spectacular natural events on a world scale. Efforts by the FWC, and others, to reopen a take of this fish are sure to disrupt, and eventually eliminate this natural wonder.”

If a hunting season is opened on the goliath grouper, the FWC has floated the idea of charging $300 per fish killed. Yet, recreational divers pay around $100 for one goliath grouper sighting. Think of that: a single goliath grouper in the water is supporting local business to the tune of $36,500 per year or more than a million dollars over its lifetime. But one spawning aggregation alone, made by several goliath groupers, generates about half a million dollars a year for one dive business. Financially speaking, that’s a much better investment than collecting a one-time payment of $300 per dead fish.

“Killing goliath groupers will also kill growing economic benefits derived from divers who revel in the opportunity to be in the presence of these iconic animals who are often as curious about us.” – Dr. Sylvia Earle

A Final Message from Katie:

We are aware that the FWC is gathering public input on the possibility of a goliath grouper killing season in Florida. As such, we have called for our supporters to attend one of the many workshops held in the state in August and October, as well as to submit a public comment on FWC’s website. We will also gathering signatures to a petition, which will be delivered to the FWC in anticipation of the goliath grouper decision coming down later this year.

“Although the species has not recovered to pre-exploitation levels, enough goliath groupers are showing up at a few spawning aggregation sites that their presence, and the SCUBA divers that come to visit them, bring a much-needed lifesaver to small businesses in Florida, between late August and early October, just when transition between the summer and winter seasons will leave these businesses in the doldrums,” said Dr. Frias-Torres. “A live goliath grouper is more valuable than a dead one. And living goliaths will keep forming spawning aggregations and contributing to the Florida economy for as long as they live.”

We strongly urge the Commissioners of FWC to maintain protections for goliath groupers in Florida and to deny any requests for opening the fishery. A policy such as this would represent the best interests of the wildlife and humans in Florida, as well as rest on conclusions drawn from the best available science.

HELP US: Ask the FWC to maintain protections for goliath groupers!

You don’t have to live in Florida to help. Please take a moment to tell the FWC to continue protections for the goliaths at this link. Feel free to use the language below as your comment.

“I am disappointed to learn the FWC is considering allowing the taking of goliath groupers. Many countries look up to the United States as a leader in so many fields, including conservation, and here we are about to permit fishermen to take goliaths—a species depleted throughout its range, except Florida—and nursed back to healthy numbers over the course of 27 years of Federal and state protection. We strongly urge you to maintain protections for goliath groupers in Florida and to deny any requests for opening the fishery. A policy such as this would represent the best interests of the wildlife and humans in Florida, as well as rest on conclusions drawn from the best available science.”

I know this is a lot. This is a pretty interesting problem from science, conservation, and politics. The voting in the hearings is by clicker and is shown on the screen so have everyone who goes take a picture and post it. People that are under eighteen can attend and vote. They can also comment online at the FFW link.

Thank you,

Katie Carlsson

Links/JTL:
Fishens Magazine: http://magazine.fishsens.com/survey-study-shows-florida-anglers-want-harvest-goliath-grouper-much-theyll-pay.htm

Melville Spencer’s photo, Florida Memory Project Warsaw grouper (Epinephelus nigritus) caught in the Halifax River displayed at Gene Johnson’s Tackle Shop – Daytona Beach, Florida. https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/140114

Mom “Goes Live,” SLR/IRL

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Sandra Henderson Thurlow, photo by Lindsey Potter, 2016.
Capt. Sewall House panorama s
Sewall’s Point Post Office, 1892.

 

With the help of Ms Kelly Arnold, my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, has a web-site! My brother, Todd; my sister, Jenny; my father, Tom; and I –are very happy that people can now contact her directly to purchase or discuss her local history books.

Mom’s web site tells you where you can buy a book locally, or you can even arrange to get one at her Sewall’s Point home–she will sign the inside cover should you wish. Her work is meticulously researched, cited, and contains wonderful photographs and maps that take you back to a time of wild beauty and raw grit.

Undoubtedly because of my mother, Martin County has one of the best documented historys in Florida. All of her books, Sewall’s Point, The History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast; Stuart on the St Lucie; Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River; and Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, Home of History; are about the pioneer families that came here to live and thrive because of our waters-a precious resource that must be restored.

Only through understanding our past, can we improve our future. Thanks mom! (http://www.sandrathurlow.com)

Please contact Sandy at her web-site above, and happy reading!
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House of Refuge book cover
House of Refuge book cover

 

 

 

 

History’s Stairway-From the “Greatest Fishing Waters in America” to the Home of Toxic Algae 2016, SLR/IRL

Stairs leading to the former home of Hubert W. Bessey, the Perkins family and later William H. and Lucy Anne Shepard ca. 1890-1947 via historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Stairs leading to the former home of Hubert W. Bessey, the Perkins family, and later William H. and Lucy Anne Shepherd ca. 1890-1947- via historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Courtesy of "Stuart on the St Lucie," by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Courtesy of “Stuart on the St Lucie,” by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Shepherd's Park, Stuart 5-30-16. JTL
Shepherd’s Park shoreline, St Lucie River, Stuart 5-30-16. The ACOE in collaboration with the SFWMD and other state agencies has been discharging waters that cannot go south to the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee as they are blocked by the EAA. The ACOE has been releasing this year since January 29, 2016. The estuary is now fresh and breeding the algae blooms of Lake Okeechobee. JTL

My earliest memories of Stuart include stairs…stairs leading to the river…

Walking in Shepherd’s Park as a child, I would ask, “Where did those stairs go Mom?” Her answer may have gone something like this…

“Jacqui, those stairs led to a great house, one of Stuart’s first, built by pioneer, Hubert Bessey. It later became the residence of William and Lucy Ann Shepherd who first came to Stuart in the early 1900s. They came, like so many did at that time, for the fishing. Stuart, you know, was “the fishing grounds of presidents” and known as “the greatest waters in America” for this sport. Mr Shepherd was president and owner of T.H. Brooks and Company, a steel corporation in Cleveland. He and his wife were generous citizens of our community.  In 1947 the house was almost demolished by a hurricane, but repaired. Then in 1949, disaster struck. Right in the middle of the winter season, the house mysteriously burned to the ground, but the stairs still stand today…” (Adapted from “History of Martin County”)

Yesterday, with these 50-year-old lessons ringing in my ears, I approached the remains of the old Shepherd residence that became today’s Shepherd’s Park. I was here on Memorial Day to meet reporter Jana Eschbach, from CBS affiliate Channel 12 News in West Palm Beach. It was Jana who had alerted me to a large fluorescent green algae bloom-more than likely toxic.

I arrived early and walked around. Lots of memories. Seeing the old stairs, I thought about how they used to lead to “the fishing grounds of presidents and the greatest fishing grounds in America.” And today, less than 100 years later, they are leading to toxic algae blooms. Never in my wildest dreams would I have foreseen this as a child.

Walking around the breakwater, I thought to myself:

“I will not give up on this place–this former paradise. It could recover if given the chance. History can repeat itself in some form here for the positive.  Yes, and I will remember the words of Ernest Lyons who my mother taught me about too—the writer and editor of Stuart’s early paper–a leader and inspiration in fighting against the digging of the excessive agricultural canals that have destroyed our St Lucie River.

I mused for a second and remembered his inspirational quote:

“What men do, they can undo. And the hope for our river is in the hundreds of men and women in our communities who are resolved to save the St Lucie.” 

Yes.

The recovery of this river is in the people, for no government can exist in today’s age knowingly bringing this upon its people…It continues to be our time to change history.

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CBS 12 report: http://cbs12.com/news/local/toxic-green-slime-invades-waterways-for-miles-in-martin-county#

http://cbs12.com/news/local/toxic-green-slime-invades-waterways-for-miles-in-martin-county#
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OTHER PHOTOS FROM STUART, 5-30-16, Dusty Pearsall.

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Gifts of History, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Book covers....
Book covers….

Having trouble thinking of a holiday or Christmas gift? Consider one of my mother’s four books…
1. Stuart on the St Lucie
2. Historic Eden and Jensen on Florida’s Indian River
3. Sewall’s Point, A History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast
4. Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge

All of these books have tremendous historic value with fabulous old stories of pioneer families, photos, maps, surveys, charts and advertisements. As you  know, I pull much of what I write about in my blogs from these books.

They can be perused and purchased at Stuart Heritage on Flagler in Downtown Stuart (http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com) and the Elliott Museum on Hutchinson Island (http://www.elliottmuseum.org) The books run $39.95. You can also order them on-line from Barnes and Noble but Amazon is probably faster.

Thanks Mom! Thanks everyone! Merry Christmas and Happy Historic Holidays!

Jacqui

thurlowbooks.com: (http://thurlowbooks.com)

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To Step on a Sawfish…St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

 

Stuart youths pose with a 14-foot sawfish hoisted on a dock around 1916. (Photo Jack E. McDonald courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow's book Stuart on the St Lucie)
Stuart, Florida youths pose with a 14-foot sawfish hoisted on a dock around 1916. (Photo Jack E. McDonald courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow’s book “Stuart on the St Lucie.”)

I recently heard a great story from Doug Bournique who is executive vice-president of the Indian River Citrus League (http://ircitrus.wpengine.com). He told me he accidentally stepped on a sawfish! Doug is very vocal about “leaving a legacy” for the Indian River Lagoon. He advocates at government meetings for the reconnection of the waters of the North Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Johns River, as well as “water farming.” He grew up along our Treasure Coast and loves fishing, especially in the area of Sewall’s Point.

Doug  was excited to see a sawfish and  I was excited to hear about it. Seeing an endangered sawfish is a “good sign” for the river.

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I have written about sawfish before, and recently I came across the photo at the top of this post in my mother’s book “Stuart on the St Lucie.” This time, with Doug’s story in mind, I looked at the photo a little differently.

It is a curious photo, isn’t it?

The “boys” all dressed up in coats and ties, the younger one on the far right, hand on hip, gazing to the horizon like a Norman Rockwell painting….The gigantic, contoured, muscular, sawfish hanging from a hook like a piece of meat in a butcher shop….in 1916 a common nuisance  perhaps. Today an endangered species…

The photo says a lot about people, about Florida’s history, about humankind, about culture, about sportsmanship, and also about how times and perceptions change…

All sawfishes are now critically endangered. Scientists say they don’t reach sexual maturity until maybe 12 or 14 years old. Their reproduction number increase is very slow like many sharks to which they are related. The are nocturnal. They are remarkable and ancient. They are awesome. They have been overfished.

What if we could find a way to use the sawfish to protect the Indian River Lagoon? What if we could use it as an “endangered species”? This may be difficult as they adapt and can live in both salty and fresh water…

“Single species management” is taking a beating lately as we know. The Cape Sea Side Sparrow, the Everglades Snail Kite, the Florida Panther….Many say when you manage an ecosystem, especially water, for a single species, it is at the expense of all the other animals in the eco-system. Of course the animal we are always most  concerned about is really ourselves. It’s hard to give anything up when you at the top of the food chain….

But that is why being human is so different from being a dinosaur. We can think. We can reason. We can dream. If we want to, we can save the  sawfish and the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon..let’s pick up our sword and win!

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawfish

https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/small-toothed-sawfish/

Lie Down on the Tracks? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Railroad Bridge, Stuart Florida. (Photo JTL)
Railroad Bridge, Stuart Florida. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)
Classic photo of original wooden trestle bridge over the St Lucie River and train-- courtesy of the Historical Society and Sandra H. Thurlow.)
Classic photo of original wooden trestle bridge over the St Lucie River and train, 1894. (Courtesy of the Historical Society of MC and Sandra H. Thurlow.)
train
Train going over new steel railroad bridge in 1905. (Archives of  Historical Society of MC and Sandra Henderson Thurlow, “Stuart on the St Lucie.”)
The present railroad movable part that was built/added in 1925. (SHT)
The present railroad movable part, “wide enough to accommodate a double track”  was built/added in 1925. (“Stuart on the St Lucie,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

Did you know that Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway was originally named “Jacksonville, St Augustine and Indian River Railway? ” I didn’t until I re-read The Railroad chapter my mother’s book “Stuart on the St Lucie.” The name was changed on September 9, 1895 to the infamous and famous “Florida East Coast Railway.” The train did and does, massively affect our Indian River Lagoon Region.

Yesterday, All Aboard Florida had a poster presentation at the Kane Center where the public was allowed to view and then put hand written comments in boxes. The Stuart News said 800 people showed up. When I was there, the tension was thick between the public and the paid, mostly young, working “presenters” in the room. These presenters looked exhausted. As usual business and outside politicians don’t know what they are in for when they come to Martin County. Like a mother bear protecting her cub, we fight for the beauty, tranquility and “quality of life” of our area. AAF met NOT All Aboard Florida. It was a train wreck…

I personally, am not against train travel at all, in fact I am for it,  but I am against All Aboard Florida as there are no benefits, only unfunded mandated costs to the Treasure Coast area  to maintain equipment and tracks and to alter the pleasant areas of downtown crossings that fill our counties.

Also it is so obvious that this is really about freight of course: the widening of the Panama Canal, the expansion of the Port of Miami, about feeding “all those people in Orlando” as it is encouraged to grow, consume, and excrete pollution that will drain down the Kissimmee then into Lake Okeechobee and be released into our rivers. It’s about Airglades Airport that really is not about the Sugarhill development “proper” as much as the already “approved” Airglades Airport Inland Port in Hendry County that will scare away every panther that has quietly walked that remote part of Florida over hundreds of years and yes affect Everglades restoration.

South Florida is headed to become a shipping center.

I recommend we lie down on the tracks. Honestly. I don’t want AAF’s freight corridor or fake passenger through trains. Not here.

Since a picture speaks a thousand words,  I will stop “talking”and let you take a look at what we are, and you can image what we will become, how our real estate and marine industry will change, and what these new shipping tracks and trains will look like—unless of course, we rise up and change the course of history…never doubt that that can be achieved.

Google Earth view of Roosevelt Bridge today 2014.
Google Earth view of Old and New Roosevelt Bridges today 2014.
Train going over railroad track 2014
Train going over SLR railroad track 2014
Close up
Close up
The railroad bride up, built in 1925 and now expected to allow 32 more trains plus freight to drive over it.
The railroad bridge up, built in 1925 and now expected to allow 32 more trains plus freight to drive over it.
Close up view
Close up view of the past to become the future.