The new Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail features an aircraft carrier, Antarctic steamer and 10 other vessels on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The Florida Department of State launched the dive trail Friday. It stretches from Pensacola to Port St. Joe and features an interactive website. The aircraft carrier USSOriskany was intentionally sunk off Pensacola as the world's largest artificial reef. Nearby are a Navy dive tender, an oilfield supply vessel and the freighter San Pablo that sunk in World War II during a secret military operation. The tugboat Miss Louise is off Destin. A pair of Navy tugs and the minesweeper USS Strength rest near Panama City. The Vamar, Adm. Richard Byrd's 1928 Antarctic support ship, is off Port St. Joe.
GOLDEN GATE ESTATES
Cars hitting alligators leaving dry swamps
Wildlife officials are asking drivers to be cautious after six alligators were found dead along a major road in Collier County. The Naples Daily News reported that despite the rains, southwest Florida is experiencing a drought. And that has gators on the hunt for a new habitat. Some are crossing Immokalee Road to a quarry and are being struck and killed by drivers who don't see them. Jason Lauritson, with the Audubon of Florida Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, said as swamps dry up, alligators pick up the scent of the quarry. The sixth gator was found dead Friday. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Tony Young said the migrations should cease with the rainy weather.
Bad weather blamed for death of birds
Harsh weather is being blamed for the 150 young migratory seabirds that washed up exhausted or dead this week on beaches in Brevard County. Florida Today reported that tests show the deaths were caused by the recent bad weather that hit the birds during their migration. Biologists say the greater shearwaters were immature and had no food in their stomachs. The birds were on their annual long migration from a remote group of islands in the South Atlantic to Canada when strong winds took a toll on some of the birds. The winds apparently blew them ashore. Of the 100 shearwaters taken to the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary in Palm Shores, only a few are expected to survive.
State trooper killed in Haiti remembered
A Florida Highway Patrol trooper killed in Haiti was remembered Saturday as a provider for his family and the community. Dozens of Florida Highway Patrol troopers gathered with the family of Jean Barthelus for a funeral service in Miami. Barthelus was shot and killed June 8 in Port-au-Prince, where he was visiting his ailing wife. Officials say two men flagged him down and opened fire on his car. Barthelus, 47, was an eight-year veteran of the Highway Patrol. The city of North Miami pledged $10,000 to help the family. A fellow trooper described Barthelus as someone who helped during investigations involving the Haitian community.