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Craig Pittman - Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

I’m a native Floridian whose family arrived here in 1850. I graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where my muckraking for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label me “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then I’ve covered a variety of beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Stories I have written on environmental issues have won national awards, and "The Daily Show" once called me a "nerd" about Florida history. I’ve written four books. The most recent one,Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, is a New York Times bestseller and won a Florida Book Awards gold medal in 2017.

  1. In his basement office Harry Lee, a retired Jacksonville doctor, who began collecting shells when he was 6 still spends time classifying shells. He's  79 now, and until recently he had what was considered the largest personal shell collection in the world, including quite a few shells that were unknown to science before he discovered them. But he's now given about a third of his collection to the Florida Museum of Natural History, where he also does volunteer work.
(Dede Smith/ Special)
    Harry Lee has spent seven decades traveling the world collecting shells — and even found one unknown to science in his own back yard
  2. Fisherman Peyton Vaughan, 58, St. Petersburg, left, throws his cast net for bait, off of the north rest area of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as the Precious Seas Cargo Ship, background, heads toward Tampa in Tampa Bay from the Gulf. A new study has found about 4 billion pieces of microplastics polluting the bay, which can affect the health of marine life in the bay.
    Now scientists will determine the impact on the animals that live in Florida’s largest estuary.
  3. In this 2015 photo, Richard Sajko of Valrico, FL talks about how he killed one of the two bears on the back of his pickup truck at the first Florida Black Bear hunt in 21 years at the Rock Springs Run Wildlife Management Area near Lake Mary Florida. 
(Saturday, October 24, 2015.) [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
    New management plan to be released in October, with possible vote in December
  4. Mermaid Whitney blows a bubble-filled kiss to the audience as she performs during the morning show of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid"  at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
    Where else can you find a mermaid on the state payroll?
  5. A ghost orchid can be seen, near the center of the frame, on a tree in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Monday, Aug. 12, 2019 in Naples. The ghost orchid spends most of the year looking like a nondescript green lump on the side of a tree. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
    To see this “super ghost orchid” you don’t even need to get your feet wet.
  6. Successfully spawned pillar corals are housed inside of large tanks at the Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation located in Apollo Beach on Wednesday. Center for Conservation utilizes large aquarium holding systems powered by LED technology and computer-controlled systems that mimic its natural environment that signals coral to reproduce.
    Florida Aquarium project yields a historic event to combat climate change and disease.
  7. A small fish was spotted swimming across flooded River Drive in Lithia on Saturday as the nonstop rains caused the nearby Alafia River to rise by about 2 feet over flood stage. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
    Spotting a catfish by your curb is not all that unusual when it rains hard around Florida and elsewhere.
  8. A Florida panther is treed by the state Wildlife and Conservation Commission biologists' capture team in January 2009. Much of what scientists know about the elusive panther, Florida's state animal, comes from chasing them down with hounds and attaching radio collars to track their movements.
    One possible cause of their condition: rat poison
  9. Peggy Van Gorder, 53, of St. Petersburg redies herself prior to driving through a gate that will lead her and survey partner Beth Koehler, 60, onto a levy in the Everglades. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
    Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to double down on python removals but hunters sometimes can’t even find one.
  10. From left: Thomas Frazer, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Julia Nesheiwat, Ph.D., Chief Resilience Officer, Executive Office of the Governor, and Noah Valenstein, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, attend the Resilient Florida: Planning, Policy and Practice workshop on Thursday, August 8, 2019, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
    Julia Nesheiwat also says new restrictions on development will be needed to cope with rising sea levels