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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

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NOAA announces critical habitat for smalltooth sawfish in Florida

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73 Fed. Reg. 70290 / Vol. 73, No. 225 / Thursday, November 20, 2008 (DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; 50 CFR Part 226 [Docket No. 070717355–8030–01] RIN 0648–AV74 Endangered and Threatened Species; Critical Habitat for the Endangered Distinct Population Segment of Smalltooth Sawfish; Proposed rule; request for comments.)

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The smalltooth sawfish is utilized as a food fish, the oil being used to make medicine, soap and in leather tanning. Adults are stuffed for decoration. It is reported to be aggressive towards sharks when kept in tanks.  Caption info from wikipedia.  Photo from LA Aquarium.

SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for the U.S. DPS of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), which was listed as endangered on April 1, 2003, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed critical habitat consists of two units: the Charlotte Harbor Estuary Unit, which comprises approximately 221,459 acres of coastal habitat; and the Ten Thousand Islands/Everglades Unit (TTI/E), which comprises approximately 619,013 acres of coastal habitat. The two units are located along the southwestern coast of Florida between Charlotte Harbor and Florida Bay. DATES: Comments on this proposed rule must be received by January 20, 2009.

EXCERPT: In summary, there is limited information on adult sawfish distribution and habitat use. Adult sawfish are encountered in various habitat types (mangrove, reef, seagrass, and coral), in varying salinity regimes and temperatures, and at various water depths. Adults are believed to feed on a variety of fish species and crustaceans. No known breeding sites have been identified. Encounter data have identified river mouths as areas where many people observe both juvenile and adult sawfish. Seitz and Poulakis (2002) noted that many of the encounters occurred at or near river mouths in southwest Florida. Simpfendorfer and Wiley (2005b) reported a similar pattern of distribution along the entire west coast of Florida. Along the Everglades coastal region, Simpfendorfer and Wiley (2005) report a strong association of smalltooth sawfish with the Chatham, Lostmans, Rodgers, Broad, Harney, and Shark Rivers.

... Red mangroves and adjacent shallow euryhaline habitats are susceptible to impacts from human activities because they are located in areas where urbanization occurs. The Status Review (NMFS, 2000) states that habitat destruction is one of the key factors affecting the present range of the species. The continued urbanization of the southeastern U.S. has resulted in substantial habitat losses for the species. Coastal areas where these features are located are subject to various impacts from activities including, but not limited to, dredging and disposal activities, coastal maritime construction, land development, and installation of various submerged pipelines. The impact from these activities combined with natural factors (e.g., major storm events) can significantly affect the quality and quantity of the two features listed above and their ability to provide nursery area functions (i.e., refuge from predators and abundant food resources), to juvenile smalltooth sawfish to facilitate recruitment into the population. Dredging projects modify water depths to accommodate navigation needs, mangroves are removed to construct docks and various maritime structures, and water control structures are installed to modify water flows in various areas, which can alter salinity regimes downstream. Based on our past ESA section 7 consultation database records we know that coastal areas in southwest Florida will continue to experience impacts from coastal construction projects and that these features will continue to experience negative impacts in the future.