Rachel Gwin had the pleasure of interviewing two of our esteemed living shoreline homeowners, Dr. Maurice “Scott” and Mrs. Evelyn Mettee. Dr. Mettee worked with the threatened Gulf sturgeon and researched the endangered Okaloosa Darter in Northwest Florida. He also published the Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile River Basin. As heroes of CBA, the Mettees have been active in supporting our mission for swimmable, fishable waterways. Their living shoreline has brought many marine visitors and much joy to their household.
As a Fisheries Biologist, what is your favorite fish in the Choctawhatchee Watershed?
Our two favorite fish species in Choctawhatchee Bay are the Gulf sturgeon and the Alabama shad. Both are anadromous species because they spend most of their lives in saltwater and migrate upstream into the Alabama section of the Choctawhatchee River to spawn. Adults return to the Gulf after the spawning season ends.Dr. Mettee
What made you decide to create a living shoreline on your property? What is your favorite thing about your living shoreline?
Our family has owned property on Choctawhatchee Bay for 60 years so we’ve had plenty of time to observe the annual cumulative effects of wind, tides, and boat traffic on our beach. Generally speaking, prevailing NW winds increased our beach size from December through March. Most of these gains were usually eroded away by September and October by prevailing SW summer winds and increased boat wakes. Waves were breaking against the base of our sea wall by December.
Something had to be done to protect our beach. The CBA had the perfect solution. In March 2017, a small enthusiastic group of CBA staff and volunteers built four small reefs in shallow water parallel to our beach. Wonderful things began to happen shortly thereafter. Summer beach erosion moderated. Reef rocks were covered by a generous layer of algae, small corals and grasses. Thousands of small Choctawhatchee Bay fish, shrimp and crab species began using the reefs as feeding, nursery and hiding habitats. The still functioning reefs are a magnet for family members who want to observe Choctawhatchee Bay sea life in our own back yard.Dr. Mettee
What advice would you give people about maintaining a healthy watershed?
What can individual bay-front landowners do to protect and enhance the natural resources of Choctawhatchee Bay? We can tell you from personal experience. Call the CBA. Ask them to investigate the possibility of building a living shoreline on your beach. For everyone else, please give the CBA your financial support so it can continue this important habitat work.Dr. Mettee