Symposium Abstract: Building a Database for Benthic Fisheries Using Tourist Income
G. C. Lane
Tourist dollars and programming can be utilized for real science. The Marine Life Adventures Program at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has been developing programs and curriculums that both teach hands-on science and help contribute to the building of a database of juvenile fisheries in the Clearwater Harbor (St Joseph’s Sound) area of western Florida. To date, they have cataloged nearly 150 species in a program that samples benthic habitats twice a day almost every day of the year. At present, there are nearly 100 sample sites that cover the entire range of benthic habitats found in the Harbor. These sites range from a depth of 1.2 to 5.0 meters. The most amazing thing is that all this is cheerfully paid for by tourist dollars and produces a product that is scientifically sound and has been utilized by Universities, Planners, and local governments. We believe that it is the first program of it’s kind in the world, and can be a model for cash-strapped and budget hungry institutions to help offset some of the costs of obtaining this type of data.