News Notes – Florida & the South

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Rescuers in Florida save right whale

Officials freed a right whale off of St. Augustine, Fla., recently.

Rescuers removed about 670 feet of line from a right whale - one of only 300 to 400 left in existence.

The whale, gender not known, was 2 years old and 35 feet long according to Jamison Smith, a NOAA official.

Right whales are highly endangered with only 300 to 400 still in existence.

On Dec. 26, NOAA found the mammal in fishing lines at 1:30 p.m., says Jamison. A crew arrived at 4 p.m. by boat and removed about 300 feet of line – there was about 670 feet in total. The rescue team included NOAA support and other local groups. NOAA attached a satellite tag to the whale to follow its progress but lost the signal. The whale was found at 1:30 p.m. the next day. A new tag was attached and, in the morning, it was moving at about 4 knots. Jamison said between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Dec. 28, the tag slowed to a halt, meaning it had detached itself from the whale.

Report sightings of dead, injured or entangled whales to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission at (888) 404-3922, and all live right whale sightings to (877) 979-4253.

 — Elizabeth Ellis

Fire closes Cheeca Lodge

The Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada, Fla., has closed indefinitely because of a recent fire. According to an announcement on the hotel’s Web site, Cheeca Lodge will undergo both repairs and “extensive renovation,” following a fire that news reports called the area’s worst in 20 years.

Cheeca Lodge has long been a popular fishing resort, with a 525-foot fishing pier that can accommodate up to six 20-footers.

For information, visit www.cheeca.com or call (305) 664-4651.

Brokerage show hits Miami Beach in February

The 21st Annual Yacht and Brokerage Show is coming to Miami Beach Feb. 12-16. The brokerage show will feature more than 500 new and used boats ranging from 30 to 160 feet, and from $250,000 to more than $30 million.

Yachts, sportfishing boats, express cruisers, family cruisers, and ocean-going trawlers will be included in the in-water-only display, covering more than 1.2 million square feet of space on the Indian Creek Waterway.

For information, visit www.showmanagement.com.

C.G. boards, charges passenger vessels

The Coast Guard recently stopped unsafe passenger vessels operating on Florida’s Crystal river and near Homosassa, Fla. The infractions were discovered during random safety boardings, from Dec. 29-31.

Two commercial vessels, operated by Stadt Aquatic Adventures, were both found to have more than their maximum allowable passengers. The captain of the second vessel failed to report a marine casualty involving one of its main engines. The Coast Guard terminated both voyages and was seeking civil penalties against Stadt Aquatic Adventures with plans to pursue a suspension of both captains’ licenses.

Two additional vessels, boarded in Homosassa, Fla., were also found to be operating in an unsafe manner. The first vessel lacked required fire extinguishers and personal floatation devices. Both were cited for operating over capacity and neither vessels’ operator was enrolled in a drug-testing program required by federal law.

Sailboats boost St. Pete attendance

The merging of Strictly Sail with the St. Petersburg Boat Show helped generate a 30-percent increase in attendance at the December event, according to organizers.

The marriage of sail and power at the St. Peterburg Boat Show brought a boost in attendance.

“Our new joint show has been an outstanding success, bringing in record-breaking gate attendance as well as quality buyers for sail, power and booth exhibitors,” says Dane Graziano, Show Management senior vice president and chief operating officer.

Show Management and Sail America announced in June they would merge the former St. Petersburg Boat Show and St. Pete Strictly Sail show to create a new “super show.”

“We were really pleased with the results of this joint venture and the positive feedback we have received from visitors and exhibitors,” said Jonathan Banks, executive director of Sail America, in a statement. “The combined show attracted more quality sailboat buyers than we’ve seen in previous shows.”

Palm Beach Show runs March 26-29

The 24th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show is coming to West Palm Beach, March 26-29. The 1 million-plus square feet of exhibit space features more than $350 million worth of boats, superyachts and marine accessories from marine manufacturers worldwide.

Offerings include fishing clinics for children and adults, daily music and floating cocktail barges, with food and entertainment on the Intracoastal Waterway. Adult admission is $14, children 6-15 are $5, and kids under 6 are free. Dock space is available for those coming by boat.

For information, visit www.showmanagement.com.

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.