Nautical Restoration

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Florida's Elite Boat and Yacht Restoration Company

About nautical.

yacht restoration florida

Our History

Our services.

Nautical Restoration was founded in 2020 with over 15 years of detailing and restoration experience behind them. Nautical Restoration provides North Florida with premiere marine restoration and detailing services.  

yacht restoration florida

  • Oxidation Removal
  • Gel Coat Repair
  • Fiberglass Repair
  • Bottom Painting
  • Graphene & Ceramic Coatings
  •  Boat Detailing

yacht restoration florida

Our Facility

Nautical Restoration has 4000 sqft just off of Atlantic Blvd & 295 in Jacksonville!  

Heavy duty marine hoists allow Nautical to perform bottom repairs, painting, and polishing. 

Don't take our word for it - read our customer reviews!

Better yet, see us in person.

We love our customers, so feel free to visit during normal business hours.

165 Tresca Road, Jacksonville, Florida 32225, United States

386-302-2836 [email protected]

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  • The Leaders in Yacht Protection, Repair & Restoration

Dynasty Restoration

  • Artwork Installation
  • Artwork Restoration

Finish Restoration

Non-skid coating.

  • Packing & Crating
  • Touch Up & Repairs
  • Venetian Plaster

Yacht Protection

  • Yachts Served

Testimonials

yacht restoration florida

EXPERTS IN YACHT REPAIR, RESTORATION & PROTECTION

yacht restoration florida

DELIVERING QUALITY ON TIME

yacht restoration florida

EACH PROJECT IS A REFLECTION OF OUR REPUTATION

Yacht interior touch-up, repair, restoration and protection services.

Our artisans and master finishers are trained to serve the unique needs of luxury yachts and mega-vessels.

Licensed & Insured

We use proven techniques and perform workmanship of the highest quality. We stand behind our work.

Experienced

Restoring exotic woods, upholstery, Venetian plaster, paneling and other materials used in luxury yachts, is what we do every day.

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Touch-up & Repairs

More Services

Orna,  Thank you so much for repairing the sculpture and providing us with the stencils for the Jetskis. The Chief Stewardess was very impressed with your work. I just wanted to remind you please to send me an invoice for my accounts. I look forward to hearing from you soon. 

Rob Odell, 1st officer - M/Y White Cloud, Feadship 221 feet

Services used on more than one vessel for repairs. Excellent quality of workmanship. Worth the money spent…Meticulous, fastidious.  

Captain Larry Larman - M/Y Blue Sky, Cheoy Lee 103 Feet

Very professional. Fulfilled commitments on a prompt basis. The finish work was done beautifully.  

Captain Shawn Hardman - M/Y My Reward, 2008 Pershing 62 Feet

Very friendly, professional service. Thank you for informing me on all of the major projects you were doing before starting. You do wonderful work & I hope to be seeing you again in the near future.  

Chief Stewardess Kelly Wynoch - S/Y Mitseoah, Penn Dennis 156 Feet

Very satisfied. Thanks very much. Very professional service. 

Captain J. Brougmton - M/Y Lady Allison, Feadship 150 Feet

Orna Miller and her crew always provided an extremely high level of professional services aboard the M/Y Four Jacks 

Captain Tim McKay - M/Y Four Jacks, 2008 Palmer Johnson 150 Feet

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Get in Touch

Questions? If you have a project on the horizon, click here . For questions about joining Dynasty Restoration or other inquiries, we welcome your message.

yacht restoration florida

DYNASTY RESTORATION. SERVING THE FINEST YACHTS & MEGA-VESSELS.

Tell us about your project.

Yacht Role * Owner Captain Project Manager Chief Stew Other Yacht Name * Yacht Location * Project Due Date * Message *

  • Bottom Painting & Prop Speed
  • Fiberglass & Paint Work
  • Running Gear & Valves
  • Full-Service Team
  • Monthly Maintenance Programs
  • Dockside Service Team
  • Full-Service Boatyard
  • Management Services
  • Accounting & Reporting
  • Relevant Management Experience
  • News and Media

Complete Refits & Restoration

Complete Refits & Restoration

Modernize, revitalize, and customize your boat with a complete refit.

With turnkey services and a state-of-the-art marine facility, Yacht Management can accommodate a variety of custom yacht services. Some of these services include interior and exterior refits, entertainment systems, mechanical systems, marine electrical and marine electronics.

There are two types of boat owners who contract yacht refits:

  • Yacht owners who love their vessel and want to upgrade their finishings.
  • Yacht buyers that have purchased a used yacht and would like to refurbish their vessel.

Whether you fall into yacht fit category one or two, Yacht Management of South Florida can help make the refit and restoration process stress-free. Once you have decided to undergo a complete yacht refit and restoration, our team will work with you to create an organized list to plan your project. Our yacht management group works closely with several reputable naval architects that can bring your vision to life. With the collaboration of CAD drawings, your restoration concerns can be turned into obtainable projects with minimal down time. One tip to keep in mind when shopping for yacht restoration prices is to focus on more than just the cost of the restoration. Reputation should play a factor in your decision making process for who to choose for your yacht refit. Sometimes, a price difference of 2%-7% could result in a substantial improvement in your yacht renovations.

Coal Blooded, Mangunsta 80'

This recent REFIT project completed at Yacht Management Service Center on an 80' Mangusta required consideration of every detail. The owners wanted to modernize the vessel, which included metallic paint work, complete interior overhaul, electronics upgrades including re-wiring to accommodate for LED lighting and major engine and generator service.

A yacht sitting in the water with a mountainside visible to the left of the vessel.

We provide the following services

  • Comprehensive planning, organizing and management of substantial refit projects
  • Naval architect and cad drawings
  • Marine engineering & surveyors
  • Dedicated project manager
  • In-house interior designers and specialty contractors
  • Yacht restoration, complete refits and yacht interior design

Contact Us

For all inquiries, fill out the form below and a member of our team will respond as soon as possible

MARINE-CUSTOM-WOKRS-LOGO-WHITE

WELCOME TO MARINE CUSTOM WORKS

Marine Custom Works is a family company that started operations in 2009, with the purpose of offering an excellent alternative in the installation of sound, wiring and the restoration of boats, motorcycle and UTV, among others.

MARINE-CUSTOM-WORKS-PIC-1

What we offer

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Latest projects

Start your boat restoration or costumization today, get a free quote.

Please fill out all required (*) information and one our representatives will be in touch with you shortly.

Let us enhance your boat experience!

Our Information 2401 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32805 407-761-9616 [email protected]

Opening hours Monday - Saturday: 9AM - 5PM Sunday: 10:30AM - 3PM

Custom Restoration

Over the years, young boats has been privileged to diversify its business by repairing, re-rigging, and/or completely refurbishing many different brands of boats. we have handled insurance claims and manufacturer warranty repairs. at this time we are offering the following services:, rigging/fiberglass services.

  • Trolling Motors
  • Jack Plates
  • Electronics and Batteries
  • Re-power and Custom Rigging
  •    Fiberglass repairs (upon review)
  •    Gelcoat repairs (upon review)
  •    Fuel tank replacements (upon review)
  •    NO transom replacement
  •    NO stringer replacements
  •    NO Awl Grip repairs

Please contact us if any clarification is needed on this policy.

Restoration Projects

Young Boats

2019 Carolina Skiff

Young Boats

1996 Capri Bayliner

Young Boats

1993 KenCraft

Young Boats

2003 Proline 25'

Young Boats

2001 Carolina Skiff DLX 24'

Young Boats

1997 Wellcraft Scarab

Young Boats

1969 Proline

Young Boats

2018 All Composite Well Skiff

Young Boats

2013 Aeon 24'

Young Boats

2008 Panga Skiff 18'

Young Boats

2007 Carolina Skiff 24'

Young Boats

1999 Carolina Skiff 24'

Young Boats

1981 TCraft 24'

  • 1 (current)

Joest Boats, LLC

F. W. "Skip" Joest

WOOD BOAT BUILDING

WOOD BOAT RESTORATION

904 347-3763

Joest Boats United States ph: 904 347-3763 Skip @JoestBoa ts .com

  • Wood Boat Building
  • Wood Boat Repair
  • Wood Boats For Sale
  • 1928/2019 TUSITALA
  • A BOAT BUILDER'S JOURNAL

Joest Boats

Wood Boat Building, Repair, & Restoration  

Hello, my name  is Skip Joest, "Yost".  I began building boats at age 12 with my fathe r. In 1986, I graduated from the Landing School of Wood Boat Building and Design; I went to work for several different Master Boat Builders before striking out on my own in the late 1990's.

1928/2019 X- USCG Utility transformed into Mini Expedition Yacht.

1959 17 ft. Chris Craft Ski Boat

Repair and Refinish

My shop is fully equipped to handle any boatbuilding, repair, or restoration, up to around 30'.  

Lyman Repair and Refinish

Please look through this site and other links provided, to help you understand the high quality craftsmanship Joest Boats offers. 

New Build Nez Perce 16

Although many of our customers come to us for the quality of our work, we believe it is the speed at which we finish projects that allows us to enjoy so many repeat customers. After all, time is money.

1910 Steam Boat Repair

 New Build Southwest Dory

Thompson Transom Repair

TUSITALA.  A 1928 x-U.S.C.G. Utility turned cruiser. Amazing history. Look for additional information through this website to learn more. 

The new Chris White designed, Mast Foil, 41' Catamaran built at Joest Boats.

  We completed the restoration, repower, and rewire of a 31' Chris Craft Constellation. A total of 3400 hours was put into this little yacht. 

Skip built this Custom Sea Skiff 20 for one of his repeat customers, back in 2012.  She was built for the St. Johns River and for heading over to the Bahamas for a week or two stay. 

  You can find extensive pictures of the restoration, redesign, and rebuild of the 50' 1930 Schooner MISTRESS by visiting her website. 

http://www.1930schoonermistress.com/

For a quick and easy look at Skip's work, click on this YouTube video link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n1yhwF2I5c&noredirect=1

Wood Boat Building, Repair, and Restoration

50' - 1930 Schooner MISTRESS

Click on the pic to take you to her website

Let Skip build or restore your wood boat the Joest Boats way!

[email protected]

VISIT OUR FACE BOOK PAGE FOR CURRENT PICTURES AND VIDEO.

https://www.facebook.com/SkipJoestBoats  

Copyright 2012-2022 - K. B. JOEST Joest Boats All rights reserved.

Web Hosting by Turbify

yacht restoration florida

561-818-9259 (David’s Mobile) 

  561- 284-6660  (Office)

[email protected] | [email protected]

Top Coaters Yacht Restoration

Top Coaters Yacht Restoration

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Taking care and delivering high quality yacht finishing paint jobs for our clients!

yacht restoration florida

Yacht Restoration Specialists

Your yacht is exposed to water, sunlight, and other elements that may wear out or damage its parts. Top Coaters Yacht Restoration in Indiantown, Florida will keep your vessel in tip-top shape so you can sail the waters with pride. We provide comprehensive boat restoration and repair services that’ll make your yacht look good as new!

Our team is composed of highly trained paint applicators who are equipped with the right skills and tools to get the job done right. Contact us to request a free quote or estimate.

Business Funding

https://davidallencapital.com/?refcode=102550897

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Our Services

  • Varnish Applications
  • Awlgrip Applications
  • Spray and Roll-and-Tip
  • Awlcraft Acrylics
  • Spray Painting Applications
  • Imron High Solids Spray

Boat Restoration, Marine Restoration

  • Van Wagoner Boats Home
  • About Van Wagoner Boats
  • Boat Fiberglass Repair
  • Boat Damage Insurance Estimates
  • Marine Engine Repair
  • Complete Marine Restoration
  • Testimonials
  • Contact Van Wagoner Boats

Complete Boat Restoration

Complete Marine Restoration and Cheap Boat Fiberglass Repair by Van Wagoner Boats

Replace Boat Parts

Does your boat have parts that damaged and in need of repair or replacing? Van Wagoner Boats can remove all those old, pitted, and rusted parts and install nice, new, shiny parts. We can completely restore your boat's interior with newly recovered seats, new carpeting, new wall coverings, and new or restored windows.

Custom Fiberglass Modifications and Add-Ons

Do you have a better floor plan idea for your boat? Van Wagoner Boats can create the floor plan of your dreams and install it in your boat. We can remove old windows, fill in the existing cutout, and install modern windows if that is your desire. No modification is too big or too small!

Get New Boat Electronics

We can completely rewire your boat to conveniently install electronics anywhere you need them. Let us install that stereo you have always wanted complete with remote control and upgraded speakers.

Complete Marine Restoration and Cheap Boat Fiberglass Repair by Van Wagoner Boats

Custom Boat Tops and Boat Covers

We can also install custom made canvas boat tops and covers. Is your canvas too lose and flopping in the wind? Canvas modifications are no problem. We can make that floppy canvas fit like a glove.

Boat Paint - From The Ground Up

We can restore your boats blistered bottom to new condition which will prolong the life of your boat. We can properly apply new inti-fouling bottom paint for your in-water boat allowing you to keep the marine growth to a minimum. Learn More! Contact Van Wagoner Boats Now!

  • About Van Wagoner Boats Clearwater, FL

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WE UNDERSTAND WHAT OWNERS, CAPTAINS AND CREWS NEED

CUTTING EDGE CLEANING AND POLISHING TECHNIQUES

THE NEWEST AND BEST PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET

TOP OF THE LINE TOOLS

  • Stephan S. "YSR is the best detailing company in Florida, using the best products such as Lat 26 Degrees. Jonathan has an extensive knowledge of how to restore most surfaces on a yacht, such as paint, gel coat, metal, glass and lots more. You can trust his expertise and his team to do the job."
  • Marc-Andre G. "We hired YSR last July to perform a complete polishing on a 105 foot vessel, which we were certain the paint was dead. Johnathan performed some tests in order to show us some possibilities and we were truly amazed! We had a second challenge time wise since we were supposed to leave for the NE in two weeks. However Jonathan and his Crew delivered a great result which was easy to maintain during the summer and winter in the Caribbean. We are currently looking at getting a second wax done from them in July. Truly a great product with great communication along the way and they deliver exactly what they say they will."
  • Brendon P. "I have been using Jonathan and his team for over four years and am happy to attest to their superior service and quality of product.  We are constantly complimented on how our 7 year old paint looks like new.  I have recommended Jonathan and his products to numerous captains, all of which have thanked me for the introduction and have been equally impressed with YSR and the range of Lat 26 products.  Captain Brendon Pomeroy.  M/Y Medora."
  • Matthew M. "No one compares to the level of skill and attention to detail as these guys!"

yacht restoration florida

Newmil Marine | Yacht Refits

  • Yacht Painting
  • Yacht Refits
  • Interior Refinishing & Varnish

(954) 327-3009

Newmil Marine | Yacht Refits

South Florida Yacht Refits Services

About our yacht refits services.

Founded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and headquartered at Lauderdale Marine Center, Newmil Marine offers its exceptional infrastructures and services to all super-yachts. We cover all aspects of refit and repair, from routine repairs & maintenance through to very complex refits, optimizing the client’s available time and budget to best advantage.

Newmil Marine works at several other locations around the country, including but not limited to: California, Georgia (Savannah’s 2 marinas) & Rybovich (West Palm Beach). Thanks to constant and significant evolution, both customizable and technological, Newmil Marine is considered one of the most important high-level and prestigious yacht refit companies in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Contact Our South Florida Yacht Refits Team

With a great team involved from the top to bottom utilizing highly experienced staff with a make it happen attitude, it will transform the process for you. Refits don’t have to be hard and unpleasant – We have such a team and our clients will readily bear testament to that.

  • Full refit, upgrades & modernization
  • 480-ton lift + on-site offices and administration
  • Interior custom installations
  • All forms of carbon/composite repairs and upgrades
  • Complete paint service
  • All carpentry including teak decking
  • Interior custom fabrications
  • Full project management

Contact Newmil Marine

And request your quote today.

  • Make An Appointment

American Yacht Restoration

Contact AYR

American Yacht Restoration (AYR) has developed an impressive array of services offered to meet the needs of the discerning client.

Utilizing AYR’s Services

… means you will have a strong team working with you that has the track record to complete a project on time and on budget.

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American Yacht Restoration utilizes its vast set of skills of its qualified tradesmen to fabricate a variety of unique and custom projects. We have all the knowledge and experience to fulfill your needs while implementing function with safety integrated with exceptional finishes and detail.

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  • Restorations
  • Boats For Sale

Welcome >

We specialize in Antique & Classic wood boat restoration and repair!

Back in the spring of 1979 working out of a two car garage, Gary Scherb, founder of the company, began turning a hobby into a full time business. The Old Time Boat Co. started with the knowledge that Gary picked up over the years of being fascinated with wooden boats. Working on boats at a marina in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey gave Gary the interest that later was to develop into today’s Old Time Boat Co.

In 1999 the business moved to Mt. Dora, Florida from Sarasota where it operated a 13,000 sq. foot building with ten employees. Currently the business occupies 8,000 sq. feet of space located at 28206 County Road 561 in Tavares.

The business is now managed by Doug Scherb, Gary and Ingrid’s son. Doug is a 1993 graduate of The Landing School of Boatbuilding and Design in Kennebunkport, Maine and has been a vital part of the business for over twenty years. We like to restore boats to be used. The challenge is to bring back an antique boat to its original beauty and reliability.

Sanibel causeway restoration progressing 18 months after Hurricane Ian. What to know

yacht restoration florida

Until it is completely restored, the Sanibel Island Causeway will remain a strong presence on the post-Hurricane Ian radar screen.

It's now been more than a year and half since Hurricane Ian slammed Southwest Florida on Sept. 28, 2022 . Residents and visitors alike have high interest in the improving "health" of one of this region's most-traveled stretches of road, portions of which were washed away by the historic and powerful Category 4 storm's surge.

Remarkably, after undergoing emergency repairs, the 3-mile long causeway that connects Sanibel to the Lee County mainland at Punta Rassa reopened to trucks on Oct. 11, 2022, and reopened to all vehicular traffic on Oct. 20, 2022.

The News-Press reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to get a progress report on the restoration efforts.

What to know: Sanibel Island, Florida, causeway restoration progress

According to FDOT, these are the key milestones of the project since the restoration started:

  • Permanent roadway configuration completed including a new, two-foot higher profile and the addition of roadway shoulders.
  • 95% completion of all sheet pile installation
  • 75% completion of roadway drainage system
  • 50% completion of armor stone installation
  • 25% completion of marine mattress installation

What to know: Restoration milestones ahead for the Sanibel Island, Florida, causeway

According to FDOT, these are milestones still to be achieved:

  • completion of the resiliency features
  • construction of return lane to the island
  • restoration of the Punta Rassa staging area
  • Complete restoration of Lee County’s Causeway Islands Park and Punta Rassa Boat Ramp for reopening to the public (Lee County projects)

The entire restoration project is expected to be completed in 2027.

  • Environment

This disease is the latest threat to Florida’s vulnerable mangrove trees

  • Max Chesnes Times staff

Mara Skadden knew something was wrong when the leaves suddenly turned yellow.

Hundreds of young mangrove trees at a Brevard County plant nursery that had looked healthy days earlier were droopy and weak.

Within days, Skadden said, nearly 400 died.

“It was very, very fast,” said Skadden, the director of science at the restoration nonprofit Marine Resources Council. “To be honest, I thought my plants weren’t getting enough nutrients. But the fact that they were dying at an unprecedented rate made me think something else was going on.”

She contacted researchers at the University of Central Florida, who took samples in February. The culprit, their analysis found, was a cocktail of disease-causing fungi that scientists have identified in several countries across the globe, from Vietnam to Colombia.

In 2019, researchers found the pathogen in Miami mangrove trees, the first known report in the United States. Now, scientists are finding trees infected with the fungi along the Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s east coast, according to Melissa Deinys, a University of Central Florida research assistant who specializes in mangrove infections.

The pathogen may be more widespread than what current data shows because it can lie dormant in healthy trees. Deinys and her team have tested wild populations for the fungus species, and Florida’s wildlife agency said the university’s research team has found it in 80% of leaves tested in Southeast Florida.

Deinys said she also has received pictures of plants from Venice and the Panhandle that look infected, and reports from Sarasota make her think it’s likely in the Tampa Bay area, too.

In a mangrove tree, the fungi acts like chicken pox or shingles: It lurks until it’s stressed — then the symptoms begin. In the case of red, white and black mangrove species, that usually means curled leaves, dark spots, stem lesions and fallen leaves.

The fungus doesn’t mean wild mangroves will die, but it could start to kill the plants if they are already stressed, according to state wildlife spokesperson Jonathan Veach.

The disease could be yet another setback for a plant species that serves as Florida’s natural line of defense against sea-level rise, flooding and storm surge. In Florida, mangroves already face a range of threats, from habitat loss to hurricane damage.

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As the burning of fossil fuels intensifies global climate change, scientists including Deinys say more climate-related stressors, like stronger hurricanes, could speed up mangrove die-offs if plants are infected with the pathogen.

“ As the ecosystem starts changing, we need to change with it,” Deinys told a room full of scientists in Palm Bay on May 3 during a meeting about the mangrove fungi.

“As these diseases are becoming more prevalent … we need to start looking out for them and coming up with solutions. (Mangroves) take a long time to grow, and we don’t have a very long time to save them.”

Disease poses a threat. But likely not the biggest one.

One solution is already being tested.

In the weeks after the mangrove die-off at the Marine Resources Council’s nursery, the nonprofit entered into an agreement with the University of Central Florida to test a treatment, records show.

The treatment, a liquid concoction created by the university, essentially tricks the mangrove into sucking up microscopic particles that contain an anti-fungal treatment.

“It’s a treatment, not a cure,” Skadden said.

Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has approved the transfer of sick mangroves into a greenhouse for testing, according to Kathy Mears, who is the chief of staff for the agency’s commissioner, Wilton Simpson. That’s a signal to mangrove planters the treatment is on the state’s radar, and it is watching the pathogen’s potential spread.

The blend of fungal species causing the disease can likely be transmitted through air, water and insects, according to the Marine Resources Council. Younger plants are more susceptible than older mangroves. And the disease can infect other native, coastal Florida plants, including sea grapes and buttonwoods, Deinys said.

It’s still not clear why mangroves at the council’s plant nursery were susceptible to the pathogen.

Deinys thinks an insect may have triggered the pathogen to emerge, while Skadden suggests it could have been temperature or high winds.

Not all nurseries are showing signs of the pathogen. In West Palm Beach, for example, the conservation clothing company Mang houses about 26,000 mangrove plants for restoration projects.

Mang’s chief restoration officer, Keith Rossin, said he isn’t seeing widespread signs of the pathogen at the company’s nursery. Rossin attended the session May 3 and said, based on how easily the pathogen can spread, he’s confident it is already in other mangroves across the state.

Plant growers should focus on limiting stress on mangroves that can allow the pathogen to take over the plant, paying close attention on fostering healthy growing conditions in the wild, Rossin said. Poor water quality, human development, boat traffic and hurricanes can stress mangroves.

“Historically in Florida, humans have been the No. 1 cause for mangrove destruction,” Rossin said.

Lorae Simpson, a biologist who has studied mangroves for about 15 years, said while it’s important to monitor the pathogen’s spread, it probably won’t become the biggest mangrove killer in Florida. That will likely continue to be habitat degradation and destruction.

“It’s something to watch, but this isn’t going to kill all of our mangroves,” Simpson said. “In a healthy system, these plants can regulate the pathogen. That’s why it’s important for us (when restoring mangroves) to maintain diverse and resilient habitats.”

Mangroves under stress

Researchers are trying to piece together why the plants at the Palm Bay nursery died while others haven’t.

Plant pathogens can be common in the wild and in agricultural nurseries. Because they flare up when a plant is stressed, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of death when a plant shrivels and dies, Veach said.

The mangroves in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon are indeed under a lot of stress, according to Candy Feller, an insect and plant ecologist with the Smithsonian Institution. Feller has studied mangroves for decades and has witnessed their decline throughout Florida, she said.

In the 156-mile-long lagoon, nutrient pollution from fertilizer runoff, leaky septic tanks, Lake Okeechobee discharges and other pollutants have all created a difficult environment for mangroves to thrive, she said.

Because the pathogens can be carried between the wild and nurseries, they may hinder mangrove conservation and restoration efforts, Calvin Kang, a mangrove ecologist at the University of Florida, wrote in an email. More work needs to be done to determine how the fungi could respond to a planet warming from climate change, he said.

“Understanding how pathogens spread among mangrove populations and how to control them is crucial for safeguarding Florida’s mangrove coastline,” Kang said.

How you can help

Scientists are looking for more reports of this mangrove pathogen in the wild. If you see a tree that may be experiencing disease or showing symptoms, email the location and photographs to [email protected]

Max Chesnes is an environment and climate reporter, covering water quality, environmental justice and wildlife. Reach him at [email protected].

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Weird attractions in SWFL: We found Skunk Ape Research, Ghost Tours, more

Here in Southwest Florida, beaches are a great way to beat the heat, and Collier County has some hidden treasures for those looking for an adventure. We've dug up some odd and hidden attractions for you to discover.

1. Skunk Ape Research Headquarters

  • A cousin of the Bigfoot folktale, Skunk Ape, is believed to reside in the Everglades. There have been sightings across the entirety of South Florida presumably the 1800s. The skunk ape is said to be between six and nine feet tall, covered in hair and reek a stench similar to a skunk.
  • The Skunk Ape Research Headquarters feature animal exhibits with guided and self guided tours, guided tours through the Everglades and camping opportunities.
  • Entry to the animal exhibit for a self-guided tour is $10 for ages 12 and older, $5 for ages two to 11, campground guests have free entry. Guided tours are $12 for ages 12 and up, $6 for ages two to 11, and half price for campground guests.
  • Skunk Ape Research Headquarters is at 40904 Tamiami Trail E., Ochopee, FL. For more information visit their website .

More: 'Weird' pizza toppings: We found grasshoppers, Peeps, waffle fries and more on SWFL menus

2. The Revs Institute

  • The Revs Institute preserves historically-significant automobiles and gives the public an intimate opportunity to experience these cars. They educate visitors on the history, preservation, conservation and restoration of vehicles like the 1971 Porsche 917k, 1953 Porsche 550 Coupe, and 1995 McLaren F1.
  • Visitors are able to experience the Revs Institute by reserving tickets in advance. They do not accommodate walk-up visitors. They are open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • General admission pricing for adults is $20. Students, military and those in education pay $15. Children eight and under have free admission.
  • Docent-led tours are $30 for adults and $25 for students, military and education.
  • The 24 hours at Le-Mans Tour and the docent-led tour with a workshop walk through are both $35 for adults and $30 for students, military and education.
  • For more information, visit the Revs Institute website . Revs is at 2500 Horseshoe Drive S.Naples, FL 34104.

3. Tin City

  • Tin City is a collection of waterfront boutiques, shops, restaurants and waterfront activities. Naples boat tours and cruises are available to visitors.
  • For more information, visit its website . Tin City is at 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, FL 34102.

4. Marco Mystery & History Tours

  • These personalized trolly tours take you around Marco Island giving visitors close encounters with the ghosts that haunt the island.
  • Due to the bug population in the summers, tours run October through May. As of now, tours are only offered on Fridays and get booked quickly. According to Gina Sisbarro, the owner of Marco Mystery & History Tours, it is best to book a few months in advance. There is a flat fee of $350. The trolly seats 7. Larger parties must book a bus.
  • For more information, visit the website or contact (239) 537-8353.

Bucket list: 5 things to do in Naples includes cars, creatures, nature, art, more

5. Tigertail Beach

  • Tigertail Beach is unique with a tidepool beach entry protected from the gulf by mangroves. Visitors can hunt for shells, explore the tidal pool, walk the white-sand beach and bird watch. There is a birdwatching tower for visitors to enjoy.
  • The beach is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.
  • For more information visit their website . It is located at 480 Hernando Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145.

Studying shellfish

University of Florida student researchers at Lone Cabbage Reef

Cedar Key, Florida  – Brad Ennis runs the airboat over the low-tide mudflats and between the barrier islands protecting the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. A fat raccoon traipses among clumps of cordgrass. Fog limits Gulf of Mexico visibility to 100 yards.

“It’s been worse,” Ennis says.

It’s supposed to lift by 10 a.m., three hours away. By then peak low tide will have come and gone and Ennis, with his band of University of Florida researchers, will have completed a morning’s work counting oysters on Lone Cabbage Reef.

They arrive a few minutes later at a barely visible outcropping, drop anchor and set up a 22-meter-long transect atop the limestone-and-shell ridge. They will repeat the task five times this morning, all the while racing the tides.

Their work is critically important. Restoring the reef – one of the largest in the Gulf – might resurrect the moribund oyster industry along Florida’s Big Bend. It could bolster fresh water levels in Suwannee Sound to the benefit of the many above- and below-water species that depend on a healthy mix of salt and fresh water.

The multi-million dollar Lone Cabbage Reef project could also serve as a restoration template for the entire oyster-depleted Gulf. And, a restored reef might mitigate the ravages of a warming world with its rising seas and ferocious storms that hammer the coast.

“Here you go. We’ve got some pretty good oysters right here,” says Ennis, the project’s research coordinator, handling a football-sized mollusk cluster on the reef’s southern edge. “I think, on the whole, what we’re doing is working. I go by the numbers and the historical data and I see an increase in oysters growing on the reef.”

Nobody, though, dares declare victory, not in a corner of the Gulf that witnessed an 88 percent decline in oyster reefs in less than 30 years. And not with a dwindling, and unpredictable, amount of freshwater flowing from the Suwannee River into the estuary.

“We’re at a tipping point,” says Peter Frederick, a newly retired research professor at the university who cofounded the restoration project a decade ago with colleagues Bill Pine and Leslie Sturmer. “We have fished out not just the oysters, but their essential substrate that supports them too. We’re replenishing both now. Ultimately, the solution is to get more freshwater. But there are many competing demands for that water.”

A male student researcher walking along the reef with a notepad

A reef in decline

The Big Bend area, stretching north from Cedar Key to Apalachicola, is a sparsely populated, wildlife-rich Florida gem. It’s the largest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the Lower 48. It’s filled with state and federally protected parks and refuges, saltwater marshes, barrier islands and hardwood forests.

The un-dammed Suwannee River supplies the fresh water that turns the northeast corner of the Gulf into a pantry of plenty for many rare and protected species including frosted flatwood salamanders, swallowtail kites, piping plovers, American oystercatchers, Gulf sturgeon and West Indian manatees. Commercial and recreational fishing – redfish, seatrout, clams, oysters – abound in the Suwannee Sound.

Or they used to. Oystering, once abundant, has all but dried up, just as it has in Apalachicola, Alabama and Texas. Locals would walk Lone Cabbage Reef at low tide and fill sacks full before the tide rolled back in.

“Anecdotally, the oysters are harder to come by,” says Frederick. “There used to be a rule of thumb: the guy in the front of the boat would tong oysters into a tray where the guy culling them would throw the good ones over his shoulder into a bucket and the rest back into the water. If you had one oyster in the air at all times you were doing pretty well. No one’s had oysters in the air for a long time.”

Gulf-wide, as much as 80 percent of the oyster reefs have suffered dramatic loss of substrate, the limestone rock base they grow upon. Reef lengths have shortened while the gaps between them have widened. Lone Cabbage’s height, too, would shrink several inches each year. Once reefs lose their covering of oyster shells they disintegrate into sandbars unsuitable for oyster growth.

The mollusks aren’t the only victims: other shellfish, small fish and plankton that depend upon the reefs as nurseries and hideouts also disappear.

Over-harvesting, pollution, hurricanes, siltation and boat wakes typically destroy oyster reefs. At Lone Cabbage, though, the Suwannee River is likely the main culprit. Actually, the paucity of Suwannee River water is the greatest cause of the reef’s problems. The sound, and the oysters, depend upon a healthy mix of fresh and salt water.

A lower-flowing river increases the amount of salty Gulf water, tipping the fresh-salt balance in favor of parasitic diseases and predatory creatures. And an already eroded reef allows more salt water to pass into the nutrient-rich estuary.

“The reef started going away in the last 30 years because of the drought-flood cycle and more, and larger, water withdrawals upriver,” says Andrew Gude, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service marine biologist who manages the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Key refuges. “Once those oyster reefs eroded away, it became just a bunch of shell pieces (unable) to hold enough freshwater close to the land.”

Everybody takes a piece of the free-flowing Suwannee which begins at the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and flows through mostly rural, agricultural lands. Soybean, dairy and tree farmers stick straws into the river as do pulp mills and an ever-spreading Jacksonville.

Living, dead: an inventory

Ennis, via GPS attached to his cell phone, instructs the four student interns where, precisely, to measure oyster density along the three-mile reef. The fog has lifted a bit and whole sections of reef are visible above the water line. None, though, rises higher than a couple of feet. The students tally the number of live and dead oysters in 2.5-meter increments.

Ennis, with Covid mask and blue bandana all but covering his head, picks up barnacle-encrusted chunks of limestone. He feels for openings, the oyster’s lips. If open, the oyster is dead. If sealed, it’s alive.

“Here’s a dead one right here. Here’s a live one. This one’s dead. And this one,” Ennis calls out. “Here’s a live one. And another. And another. And another.”

This particular 22-meter transect isn’t very impressive, mollusk-wise. Ennis is pleased, though, with the number of barnacles, a sure sign that a healthy reef is creating habitat for oyster spat too.

Tom Kelsch, with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)f, is more effusive singing Lone Cabbage’s praises.

“I’ve been very pleased with the results,” says Kelsch, a senior vice president with the nonprofit’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. “We did a public event, maybe six months after the first cultch (oyster beds) were deployed and we were already seeing spat settlement. That was very, very encouraging. I would say, in fact, that Lone Cabbage is one of the most successful, if not the most successful, oyster restoration projects we’ve funded to date.”

NFWF, which works closely with the Fish and Wildlife to conserve the nation’s lands and animals, put up $8.3 million for the restoration project. The money, appropriately, comes from financial penalties assessed against BP and Transocean for the damage caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Kelsch says the Gulf Fund is spending upward of $75 million on nine oyster restoration projects from Florida to Texas.

In 2018, local oystermen, under the guidance of the university’s Nature Coast Biological Station, plucked 3,000 bushels of live oysters from Lone Cabbage and relocated them during construction. A local quarry provided limestone boulders. Oyster shells were sprinkled an inch deep over the restored reef built to mimic Lone Cabbage’s footprint from the 1800s. Ennis and crew will survey the artificial reef for five years. This is year three.

“It’s all looking great,” professor Frederick says. “One of the objectives was to get the oysters established on a new surface and get that elevation back up where it ought to be. That’s definitely been accomplished. We’re seeing not just a high density of oysters, but some good growth and good structural complexity.”

It’s too early to determine whether the reef keeps more freshwater in the estuary. A category 5 hurricane hasn’t yet slammed the Big Bend so the reef-as-protective-barrier premise hasn’t been challenged either. And, more and more people tap the Suwannee River.

“I’m optimistic, but am I optimistic that we’re going to be able to do enough to make a long-term difference? Will we have enough fresh water to do that?” Frederick wonders. “When you work on the coast the uncertainty is just so manifest. It’s sort of like farming in the Dust Bowl.”

Estuary awakes

It’s 10 o’clock and the fog has thickened. The incoming tide nearly tops researchers’ boots. Ennis calls it a day and steers the airboat toward the Lower Suwannee refuge. Along the way, and through the mist, the estuary comes alive.

Fishermen race to a favored spot. A pelican flies low over the water. Herons, egrets and black skimmers patrol Preacher’s Cove. One, two, three red-beaked oyster catchers head for the reefs. Previously rare, they now abound on the oyster reefs, as do bald eagles.

“This is a very healthy marsh,” Ennis says.

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