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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Recent cold weather has delayed largemouth bass spawning, says a University of Florida expert whose research suggests anglers should enjoy the opportunity for easy catches, despite naysayers.
In Florida, the bass usually begin spawning in January or February but this year they started at least a month late, said Mike Allen, a fisheries professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Largemouths are the state’s most popular freshwater game fish. To spawn, male bass make shallow nests in the sand, court females, and then protect the eggs and hatchlings for several weeks.
Males guarding nests are notoriously aggressive, striking anything that moves. The fish are easy to catch, but it’s commonly believed that spawning-season fishing reduces bass populations. Allen’s latest study suggests that notion is rarely true. (more …)
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The oyster lover’s axiom of edibility — that this shellfish is safest to eat in any month with an “r” in it — may soon become somewhat of a culinary anachronism, thanks to a new food-safety test developed with help from the University of Florida.
Oysters are typically considered safest to eat in cooler months (September through April) because the shellfish-infecting bacteria in the genus Vibrio flourish best in warm temperatures.
Even in the “r” months, slurping an oyster opens some people to infection from these bacteria, which can cause fever, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and has even led to finger amputation when it’s given a chance to penetrate a cut or skin lesion.
However, a new quick and inexpensive diagnostic test developed by DuPont Qualicon and refined by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences could make weeding out pathogen-loaded oysters much more practical and efficient. Oysters are a $14 million industry in the Sunshine State, according to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
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The Caribbean spiny lobster is one of Florida’s top commercial seafood species, with an annual $27 million harvest — but a recently discovered virus is killing the crustaceans and threatening the industry.
Now, scientists with the University of Florida and several other institutions have been awarded a three-year, $1.4 million National Science Foundation grant to research transmission of the virus, known as PaV1.
The research should answer many lingering questions about the spread and geographic distribution of the pathogen, and could lead to management strategies and new methods for identifying infected lobsters, said Don Behringer, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
One of the main issues to be investigated: whether the virus is dispersed long distances by lobster larvae, which float hundreds of miles during their first months. Infected spiny lobsters have been found in far-flung places, including the Florida Keys and parts of Mexico, Belize and St. Croix. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Marine sponges may not look like apartment buildings, but to shrimps, juvenile lobsters and other animals in Florida Bay, the puffy filter-feeders provide one of the few safe places to live.
In 2007, harmful algae blooms killed sponges in large tracts of the shallow lagoon, where fresh water draining from the Everglades meets the Gulf of Mexico. University of Florida and Old Dominion University researchers are trying to restore the invertebrates by slicing up healthy sponges, then planting the cuttings in affected areas to grow and reproduce.
The results of the study will lay the groundwork for larger restoration efforts that would boost populations of economically important seafood species that depend on sponges, help the state’s commercial sponge industry and improve water quality, said Don Behringer, a research assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)
Tom Nordlie – (352) 273-3567
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spotted green puffer fish seldom reproduce in captivity, but University of Florida experts have created the first commercial breeding method reported in the United States, a move that could benefit the tropical fish industry and genetics researchers.
A UF team investigated the species at the request of producers, who hope to breed some of the estimated quarter million spotted green puffers sold annually to North American hobbyists and researchers, said Craig Watson, director of UF’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One of the country’s biggest and longest-running artificial reef research projects is about to widen its scope, and the payoff could be healthier grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, a University of Florida researcher says.
Over the last 17 years, UF researchers have built and placed a 26-mile line of artificial reefs in the Gulf and studied its impact on gag grouper, a popular game and food fish. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mention sturgeon to a Floridian these days, and they might flinch. The armor-plated fish have made news this summer by body-checking boaters, but the animals might soon develop a new reputation — as cash cows.
Sturgeon farmers across the Sunshine State say marketable yields of caviar could begin within the next year. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Coral might be the slowest-growing crop ever farmed by the University of Florida, but researchers say damaged reefs could be repaired faster if they perfect methods to cultivate the marine organisms.
UF experts are raising seven species of coral at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, and next week they’ll dive to check the progress of farmed corals returned to the wild last year. (more …)