Upon discussion of REEFNGOM with local people, these responses were received.
Dr. Sneed Collard, retired as of May 1999 from the Biology Dept. of U.W.F. with research in Biological Oceanography emailed me on Feruary 2, 1999:
Dear Ms. Dowdy,
I am pleased to say that I support your R.E.E.F. efforts enthusiastically. The Panhandle area of the eastern Gulf of Mexico has for years been less studied than any other portion of the Gulf. During spring-summer 1998, an atypical/anomalous event involving El Nino, a negative Phase North Pacific Oscillation, eastward winds, a Loop Current anticyclone stalled near the head of DeSoto Canyon, and coastal upwelling of low dissolved oxygen water from the outer shelf and Canyon resulted in mass mortalities on offshore reefs and wrecks from east of Panama City to at least Destin. No follow-up surveys are planned to my knowledge, and this is critical in order to assess the magnitude and consequences of the loss of both benthic and pelagic organisms. What you propose would help to fill in many crucial data gaps, and enable us better to understand our part of the Gulf.
I wish you much success, and endorse your proposed plan of action in its entirety.
Sneed B. Collard Professor
Dr. Klaus Meyer-Arendt, Professor and Chair of the Environmental Studies Department of U.W.F. wrote the following letter on March 4, 1999:
Thank you for filling us in on the REEF field station. We believe your project is a very worthwhile endeavor, and I hope that some of our Environmental Studies majors become involved in some of the educational opportunities that this field station will offer.
As a coastal geoscientist, I see much potential in this project. We strongly endorse it.
Klaus Meyer-Arendt, Ph. D
Professor and Chair
Mr. Trey Goodman, who oversees all artificial reef activity in Escambia County attended the Pensacola GAFC '99 as a guest speaker and handed me a letter of support for the field station dated July 9, 1999. The letter appears as below.
Dear Ms. Dowdy,
I would like to tell you how excited we are here at the Escambia County Parks and Recreation Department to hear about you and your efforts to bring a local chapter of R.E.E.F. to our community*. For many years various individuals and organizations have been building artificial reefs off the shores of Escambia County. Recently the County via our department has gotten heavily involved in reef construction. It has been very difficult to find the funds needed to build what reefs we have but to find financing for reef monitoring for fish species has been next to impossible. For this reason, other than data sporadically collected from area fishermen, we have no idea what type and in what quantities of fish we have visiting our artificial reef sites.
The data that you and your volunteers will be collecting on our public reefs will be very valuable to us. The Army Corp. of Engineers has made it mandatory to conduct artifical reef monitoring in order to satisfy certain permit conditions. Escambia County will use the information you and your volunteers gather in order to satisfy some of these permit conditions. By learning about the biomass that surrounds different types of artificial reefs, we will also learn a great deal about specific designs and materials in order to improve on the next large reef project we become involved in.
The citizens of Escambia County will benefit as well as we use the information to improve our current reefs. Using the information correctly will lead to better fishing and diving which again leads to better tourism. Better tourism leads to a healthier local economy which in turn helps all County residents.
If there is anything we can do for you please do not hesitate to call. We applaud your efforts and wish you great success at this new endeavor.
Trey Goodman, Chief of Program Operations
Escambia County Parks and Recreation Department
(*Please note that we are a field station for REEF, and not a chapter or division of REEF.)
After speaking as a guest at our GAFC seminars in July, Mrs.
Sonya Wood Mahler sent the field station the following letter.
She is the Sea Grant/Marine Extension Agent for the Florida Sea
Grant and Florida Cooperative Extension Service. She helps
educate people on wildlife and marine recreation issues.
I am excited that you have set up a Reef Field Station and are bringing the Great American Fish Count to northwest Florida. We have worked with the dive community in the past through the Underwater Marine Debris Cleanups and the Adopt-A-Reef program. This is an excellent opportunity to continue cooperation among dive shops and divers to protect our Marine Environment.
The enthusiasm and expertise that you and Greg bring to this program are just what we need in the Pensacola area. I had the chance to participate in your Fish Identification Course held at Gulf Coast Dive Pros. It was well-organized and a lot of fun. The Fish Count allows divers to observe, photograph, and record fish rather than spearing or collecting them. The data generated by all of those volunteer counters will be invaluable in fish population and migration research, in determining the value of artificial reefs, and in monitoring the health of the Gulf.
Thanks for your energy and hard work so far, and good luck with future Reef projects.
Sonya Wood Mahler
Please email all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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