It’s Blue Crab Season – Let’s Get Crackin’

FUN FACTS:

  • Female blue crabs mate only once during their lifetime.
  • The average lifespan of a blue crab is 3 years.
  • The scientific name, Callinectes sapidus, means “savory beautiful swimmer.”

Blue crabs are crustaceans with a hard upper shell, typically grey, blue, or brownish-green in color. The blue crab gets its name from its sapphire-tinted claws. Blue crabs have two large claws, six walking legs, and two paddle-like swimming legs. One thing that sets male and female crabs apart is that females have red tips on their claws. Another distinction between male and female blue crabs is the shape of the abdomen. A blue crab male’s abdomen has a long, narrow, inverted “T” shape while females have a broader, rounded “U” shaped abdomen.

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Blue crabs spend the majority of their lifetime in estuaries which often have accessible shorelines, making blue crabs a delicious challenge to catch. Blue crabs are not only sought after by commercial fishermen but recreational crabbing has become rather popular as well.

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Louisiana’s blue crab fishery is the largest in the United States accounting for more than half of the total amount harvested in the Gulf of Mexico each year. Blue crabs are prized for their sweet, tender meat and are one of the most popular forms of seafood in the United States.

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Blue crabs tend to feed on oysters, mussels, snails, plant and animal detritus, and even smaller or soft-shelled blue crabs. These creatures are very sensitive to environmental changes and populations will drastically decline if habitats are disturbed. The blue crab relies heavily on healthy wetlands for survival and the sustainability of their population. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act supports healthy estuaries that serve as habitat for species such as the blue crab.

 

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Benefits of Wetlands

Wetlands have long been considered an obstruction to development. Nearly a century ago, it was believed that wetlands did not provide substantial benefits to the environment and were deemed worthless. Wetlands were drained or filled to make room for further development, such as roads and homes. Today, scientists recognize the environmental benefits that wetlands provide and are encouraging us to preserve this environmental resource. Although we are still losing wetlands, our improved understanding of this dynamic ecosystem and the benefits it provides seems to be contributing to a decreasing loss of wetlands.

Wetlands are valuable in the fact that they provide water purification, flood protection, erosion control, groundwater recharge and discharge, and streamflow maintenance. Along with these benefits, wetlands provide habitat for a large percentage of threatened and endangered species, as well as fish and other wildlife. How a particular wetland functions and benefits the environment depends on its location and type. Wetlands take many forms including marshes, estuaries, bogs, lakes, coral reefs, and floodplains, just to name a few. Wetlands also provide recreational benefits, such as fishing, birding, nature photography, hiking, and kayaking. If you are feeling anxious to seek outdoor activity, look no further than the wetlands near you.

A partially filled or otherwise damaged wetland only reaches its minimal potential to provide all of these environmental benefits. If we want wetlands to continue to perform their ecological functions to the best of their ability, we have to protect them. Take action to help preserve one of the most biologically diverse but undervalued ecosystems.

 

World Oceans Day

Oceans are often seen as the blood of our planet. Oceans flow over nearly three-quarters of the planet, providing 97% of the Earth’s water. Not only are oceans a home to an array of marine wildlife, they create a livable environment for land-bearing organisms like humans. Even though most people do not venture far beyond the coast, the open ocean produces a massive scope of goods and services that are a fundamental part of our health, economies, and even our weather.

Marine fisheries, shipping routes, oxygen, carbon dioxide sinks, temperature, weather control, and the water cycle are all provided by the ocean and are essential to a functioning world. Ocean-based businesses contribute more than $500 billion to the world’s economy and approximately half of the world’s population resides in the coastal zone. Oceans supply food, transportation, jobs, and products that aid in keeping people warm, safe, informed, and entertained. Around 90% of all trade between countries is carried by ship. If the ocean cannot produce it, it can at least transport the goods.

Tomorrow, June 8th, people from around the world will join together in celebration to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans. The theme for this year’s World Oceans Day is “Our Oceans, Our Future.” What a suiting theme! Regardless of our distance from the ocean, our lives are still highly affected by the health of Earth’s oceans. Oceans generate most of the oxygen that we breathe, provide food for us, regulate our climate, and clean the water that we drink. Without maintaining healthy oceans, our future will be affected dramatically.

Celebrate World Oceans Day by adopting the practice of appreciating our oceans through plastic pollution prevention and cleaning the ocean of marine litter. Take care of the oceans that give so much to us in return!

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Louisiana’s Seafood Ecology

For centuries, Louisiana has had a prospering commercial seafood industry. The catching and selling of shrimp, crabs, oysters, alligator, fish, and crawfish have sustained the livelihood of many families.  As one of the country’s largest seafood suppliers, Louisiana contributes more than 850 million total pounds of high-quality seafood to restaurants and homes across the world each year.

Louisiana’s fisheries are an integral part of our economy through providing jobs, as well as income and tax revenue. One of every seventy jobs in Louisiana is related to the seafood industry. As a whole, this leaves an economic impact of over $2.4 billion annually for the state of Louisiana. For many of the industrious fishermen who work Louisiana’s waters, their craft of bringing the finest seafood to the plates of people around the world has been passed down for many generations.

What makes Louisiana waters so plentiful? The abundance of seafood caught and served around the world all starts with our estuaries. An estuary is an ecosystem commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are inhabited by an array of plant and animal species that have adapted to a mixture of fresh and salt water caused by tidal flow. This changing mixture makes estuaries a fertile region for a variety of marine life. Along with estuaries providing an abundance of seafood, they also provide access to recreational activities and breeding and migratory locations and shelter for fish and wildlife.

Did You Know?

  • 75% of the United States commercial sea catch comes from estuaries.
  • 37% of estuary marshes in the United States are in Louisiana.
  • Louisiana is the largest commercial fishery in the United States.
  • Louisiana estuaries comprise the seventh largest estuary in the world.

You can help maintain healthy estuaries by keeping your estuary area clean of trash and robust for our seafood industries, wildlife, vegetation, and others to enjoy! Louisiana’s seafood industry promotes innovations that protect our coastline and help keep our waters clean. When you select Louisiana seafood, you are supporting the lifestyle and environment Louisiana natives have depended on for centuries. As they say about Louisiana seafood, “know better, eat better.”

TVFWD Annual Inspection Meeting

The Teche-Vermilion Basin Project was included in the 1966 Flood Control Act after a 1961 study by Louisiana’s Department of Public Works showed deteriorating water quality and insufficient water in Bayou Vermilion and Bayou Teche. Ground water was threatened with contamination by salt water due to lack of flow of the Teche and Vermilion Bayous. The purpose of the project is to restore the flow of water to the Teche-Vermilion basin, improve water quality through the increased flow, and prevent salt water from entering the lower parts of the basin. The increased flow is also intended to restore the water supply available for agricultural and industrial needs before the protection levees were built. The state legislature created the Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District Board of Commissioners in 1969. The Board of Commissions was charged with responsibility for the maintenance and operations of the original project of the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as major replacements.

On October 21, CWPPRA staff attended the Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District Annual Inspection Meeting at the Teche-Vermilion Pump Station in Krotz Springs, La. The meeting began with a welcome speech from Donald Sagrera, TVFWD Executive Director. Introductions of property possession parish commissioners were made beginning with Ed Sonnier, Lafayette Parish; Donald Segura, Iberia Parish; Tommy Thibodeaux, St. Martin Parish; Mike Detraz, Vermilion Parish; and Bradley Grimmett, St. Landry Parish. A positive inspections report was given by Darrel Pontiff of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, as well as Ted Elts of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Ed Sonnier, TVFWD Chairman, introduced Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, who was the event’s guest speaker. The presentation continued with recognition of TVFWD staff and sponsors given by Cecil Knott, Operations Supervisor, and Alex Lopresto, TVFWD Legal Advisor. TVFWD Executive Director Donald Sagrera ended the ceremony with closing remarks.

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Plants of the Wetlands

Hydrilla

hydrillaPlants of the wetlands are generally known to be highly dependent upon specific conditions, such as salinity, proximity to water, and vegetation type.
While some plants are able to adapt to condition alterations, other species do not overcome change as well. However, a major threat to all wetland vegetation is hydrilla.

Hydrilla is a non-native, invasive aquatic plant that has staked its claim by out-competing native plants and obstructing waterways. Hydrilla is a submerged, perennial plant that prefers freshwater, but can tolerate up to 7% salinity. This aggressive plant is known for clogging waterways, impeding natural flow, affecting human use such as fishing and seafood harvest, and clogging intakes and municipal drinking water supplies. Hydrilla can take over an area quickly as a result of its ability to multiply rapidly using four different strategies. Regrowth of stem fragments containing at least one node into a new plant, tubers on rhizomes producing new tubers, leaf turions that settle into sediment and form a new plant, and seed dispersal are all methods of reproduction for hydrilla. Hydrilla can out-compete native plants by its ability to tolerate low and high nutrient conditions in addition to growing in low light environments. Hydrilla is also successful in out-competing other plants by growing at a rate of one inch per day until reaching the water’s surface, followed by branching out to form a mat of vegetation which blocks light to other plants.

In order to control the growth of hydrilla, salvinia weevils have been released into severely affected areas. The salvinia weevil lives exclusively on hydrilla as a food source, thus reducing growth rates to allow control of the plant. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act is currently researching the best, most beneficial method of controlling and eradicating invasive plant species.

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CWPPRA

Did you know:

CWPPRA has protected, created, or restored approximately 96,806 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act has funded coastal restoration projects for 26 years. Presently, CWPPRA has 153 total active projects, 108 completed projects, 17 active construction projects, 23 projects currently in Engineering and Design and has enhanced more than 355,647 acres of wetlands . These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring technique in Louisiana. The success of the CWPPRA program has been essential in providing critical ecosystem stabilization along Louisiana’s coast and has provided pioneering solutions for land loss.

Visit CWPPRA’s website for more information!