Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Craig Pittman

Craig Pittman

Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. He graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the Times. He is a four-time winner of the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida and a series of stories on Florida's vanishing wetlands that he wrote with Matthew Waite won the top investigative reporting award in both 2006 and 2007 from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the author of four books: "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid" (2012); "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species," (2010); and, co-written with Waite, "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss," (2009). His new book, < a href="http://www.amazon.com/Oh-Florida-Americas-Weirdest-Influences-ebook/dp/B019CB3UNQ"> "Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country,"hits stores in July 2016. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

Workers contracted by Pinellas  County cleaned  up dead fish last month on Madeira Beach as a southwest wind brought daed fish and the smell of red tide to the beach. The water looked red. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Innovative Red Tide bad air forecast tool working well, but info can be hard to find

An experimental tool to provide forecasts for which beaches have bad air because of Red Tide seems to be working, but users are having trouble finding its important information.
Updated: 6 hours ago

After hurricane duty, a complaint followed Pinellas Park officers home

The Pinellas Park Police Department dispatched a dozen officers to Panama City Beach on Oct. 12 to help out with recovery efforts after the devastation of Hurricane Michael. A week later, another twelve replaced them.But when the group returned...
Published: 11/08/18
ZooTampa veterinarian Ray Ball operating on an injured manatee's flipper. State records show Ball twice amputated flippers on njured manatees rescued from the wild, and then Instead of taking them into captivity to undergo rehabilitation and further treatment, he ordered them turned loose. in one case, he did this over the objection of  the state's top manatee veterinarian. [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]

Documents: ZooTampa vet cut off injured manatees’ flippers, turned them loose

ZooTampa has assembled a panel of anonymous veterinarians to pore over the allegations that their senior veterinarian, Ray Ball, killed at least two manatees with suspect medical practices and carried out other questionable treatments.They will...
Published: 11/07/18
Updated: 11/09/18
A monarch butterfly shows off its distinctive markings. Scientists say their latest study in Florida show the population has dropped 80 percent since 2005. [Florida Museum of Natural History]

Florida study finds monarch butterflies declined 80 percent since 2005

Every year thousands of monarch butterflies dance through the air over North Florida, traveling between their winter refuge in Mexico and their regular homes along the U.S. Atlantic coastline. The colorful pageant attracts flocks of tourists who are...
Published: 11/07/18
Updated: 11/08/18
Dr. Ray Ball, senior veterinarian at ZooTampa, formerly the Lowry Park Zoo, has been ordered by federal officials not to treat any more manatees until an investigation is complete into

Two members of Congress call for full investigation of ZooTampa veterinarian

Calling the reports "shocking and unacceptable," U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Kathy Castor have fired off a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Monday, demanding a full investigation into allegations that ZooTampa’s senior veterinarian harmed...
Published: 11/05/18
Updated: 11/08/18
Workers contracted by Pinellas  County clean late last month on Madeira Beach as a southwest wind brought dead fish and the smell of Red Tide to the beach. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Red Tide is back, chasing people from restaurants along Intracoastal Waterway

Frank Thiesen runs a St. Pete Beach restaurant called the Blue Parrot that faces the Intracoastal Waterway. On Monday night he had an 18-piece band playing.As the night wore on 15 people left the restaurant because they could no longer stomach...
Published: 11/02/18
Workers at the David A. Straz, Jr. Critical Care Center at what is now called ZooTampa prepare a manatee for return to the wild. [Times (2011)]

Vet for Tampa zoo accused of killing manatees through malpractice

Federal officials are investigating reports that the head veterinarian at ZooTampa accidentally killed at least two manatees with shoddy medical care.They are also asking questions about "credible reports" that Dr. Ray Ball, head veterinarian...
Published: 10/30/18
Updated: 11/01/18
From left, Michael Castle, a park ranger at Hillsborough River State Park and Florida Governor Rick Scott check to see if a campground at the park is ADA compliant. Governor Scott spent Thursday, July 19, 2012 touring Hillsborough River State Park to see what a day in the life of a park ranger is like. His administration subsequently tried to make changes, including adding hunting and cattle grazing to the award-winning parks. [Times files]

Scott promised to be the greenest governor, but wound up labeled 'Red Tide Rick'

The last time Gov. Rick Scott ran for office, when he was seeking re-election in 2014, he vowed to be the greenest governor Florida has ever seen.
Updated one month ago
Dave Shealy is perched on the shoulders of this concrete skunk ape replica in 2005 in Ochopee, Fla. (AP Photo/Miami Herald, Al Diaz)

Fall in Florida? Cue the stinky Skunk Ape.

Florida is bright and sunny, but we have our share of dark and haunted places, not to mention creepy creatures like the Skunk Ape and the Bardin Booger.
Updated one month ago
An Eastern diamondback rattlesnake makes its way across the green near the 14th hole at Mangrove Bay Golf Course on Oct. 8.

Video of Florida snake on a golf course goes viral

ST. PETERSBURG — The ancient Roman poet Virgil is credited with coining the term "snake in the grass" (latet anguis in herba), but he probably didn’t mean one like this.
Updated one month ago