Shelly Krueger is the Florida Sea Grant agent for the University of Florida IFAS Extension, Monroe County since 2013. Shelly is part of the UoF Extension faculty. Florida Sea Grant is a UF-based program that supports research, education and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for the people of Florida. In 2019, Shelly wrote the Sponge Restoration module for the new UF/IFAS Florida Master Naturalist Program Marine Habitat Restoration and she is the outreach and education lead for the Florida Keys Community Sponge Restoration program, a multi-agency collaboration led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to restore sponge communities.
Sponges are essential for healthy ecosystems because they continuously filter large volumes of water while feeding on phytoplankton, viruses, and bacteria. Sponges also transform water chemistry by cycling nutrients and provide essential nursery habitat for important fisheries species such as spiny lobster, stone crab, and bonefish. The loss of such an important component of nearshore habitats has prompted calls for sponge restoration. By transplanting sponges onto experimental sites, researchers are evaluating how to ensure sponge transplants become self-sustaining and help restore the health of Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay. With Florida Sea Grant and EPA-funding, researchers are now testing transplant techniques to see if they can accelerate the restoration process.
Plan to attend and welcome back Shelly after she spoke to the club in March on Sargassum.