3 To Know: FWC monitoring sea turtles, manatees

Marco Eagle

1. FWC monitoring sea turtles, manatees during cold weather

As Florida’s residents and visitors manage the current cold-weather conditions, the state’s unique and treasured fish and wildlife species may need some extra care as well. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is prepared and ready to prioritize this critical mission.

A Manatee in the Crytal River, Florida.

“We are committed to conserving our natural resources, and are staged and ready in strategic areas throughout the state,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton. “Our team of FWC staff, partners and volunteers are monitoring the status of marine species affected most by the cold, and are prepared in case rescues are needed.”

Sea turtles are one species that can be affected by cold weather. When the water temperatures drop, stunned sea turtles may float listlessly in the water on or near shore. Although these turtles may appear to be dead, they are often still alive.

The Florida manatee is another species that can be impacted by extreme cold weather. When wate rtemperatures drop, manatees gather in warm-water habitats such as discharge canals

at power plants and natural springs. The FWC asks that boaters be extra vigilant in watching for manatees in shallow waters near the coast, both inland and coastal, and obey all posted manatee speed zone signs.

To report distressed wildlife, call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). The FWC monitors fish disease and mortality events around the state. Report dead and dying fish to the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511.

2. GasBuddy analysts expect fuel prices to rise again in 2018, maybe 18 cents

Gasoline prices are on the rise for the second year in a row, and drivers will be paying more at the pump than they have in four years. 

The national average for a gallon of regular self-serve gas is expected to average $2.57 in 2018. That would be 18 cents more than 2017's average and the highest yearly average since 2014, according to a GasBuddy fuel price outlook. 

Average gas prices in Florida are usually "very similar to the national average or slightly higher," according to Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. 

Gas prices in Florida "likely will spend most of the year in the mid and upper $2/gal range," DeHaan wrote in an email. The lowest prices will be in the winter and again in fall, he said. Prices will rise sharply from winter to spring due to seasonal changes. 

Miami, Orlando and Tampa are among the U.S. cities with this year's highest daily average gas prices, which range from $2.65 to $2.95 a gallon. 

In Collier County, the average gas price Friday was $2.44 and the lowest was $2.35. Many of the gas stations with the cheapest prices are in North Naples and East Naples. Gas prices on Marco Island were higher, at $2.49 and $2.55 per gallon.

3. Grimm in serious condition after crash on Golden Gate Boulevard West

A Chokoloskee man is in serious condition after a two-vehicle crash near Wilson Boulevard and Golden Gate Boulevard West, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

A two-vehicle crash near Wilson Boulevard and Golden Gate Boulevard West sent one person to the hospital and caused road blockage Friday afternoon

Quinton Billy Grimm, 23, was transported via helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital after the crash Friday, which shut down parts of Golden Gate Boulevard West.

Grimm was driving a 2004 Chevrolet westbound in the inside lane on Golden Gate Boulevard West. The second vehicle, a 2011 Chevy, was traveling westbound on the same lane and ahead of Grimm.

Grimm had a medical emergency and lost control of his vehicle, according to the report.

The Chevy Grimm was driving rear ended the 2011 Chevy. Both vehicles crossed the median, traveled across the eastbound lanes and ended in a ditch.

The driver of the 2011 Chevy had no injuries, according to the report.

No charges are pending.