FL - Under drone radar, Fort De Soto Park becomes living lab for sea level rise
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program monitors a muddy thicket across from a snack shack, one of nine watch sites in the region.
Across the road from a snack shack in Fort De Soto Park, Gary Raulerson searches until he finds a gap in the cabbage palms. He ducks inside, branches creaking on a bright February morning. He plods a few steps past an orange survey flag.
Sunlight slashes through dead Brazilian pepper trees, brought here more than a century ago for decoration, now invasive. Raulerson tries to avoid poison ivy. Sweat pricks his back.
In the parking lot, University of Florida researchers prepare a spider-like drone, which will fly an $80,000 laser radar device to collect data on the vegetation.