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SBEP Reminds Residents to Hold the Fertilizer through September 30

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SARASOTA, FL – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) reminds residents to use fertilizers with a minimum of 50 percent slow-release nitrogen if they fertilize their lawn or flower beds in the summer through September 30. This is in compliance with Sarasota and Manatee County urban fertilizer ordinances.

Slow-release products (also called controlled release or timed release) feed lawns and plants gradually and for a longer period of time. They are more easily absorbed by the plants and less likely to become stormwater runoff after heavy rains.

Using too much fertilizer has an adverse impact on water quality and aquatic life because of the high amount of nitrogen and phosphorus. Learn more by visiting the Be Floridian website at befloridian.org or the SBEP website at sarasotabay.org.


Be Kind to Marine Life During July 4 Weekend

The first local sea turtle hatchlings of the year emerged June 17 from a loggerhead sea turtle nest on Casey Key, according to Mote Marine Laboratory scientists who monitor nesting along 35 miles of beaches from Longboat Key through Venice.

The Sarasota Police Department and Mote, a nonprofit research and education institution, would like to remind residents and visitors to help keep local waters and beaches safe for summer recreation and sea turtle nesting season. This message will be especially important during the July 4 weekend, when local waters and beaches will be busy for the holiday and the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix off Lido Beach.

The Sarasota Police Department, Mote and Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix event partners will be reminding the public of the Sarasota County Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance, Chapter 54, Article XXIII of the Sarasota County Code of Ordinances, which protects endangered sea turtles on all local beaches, including Lido Beach, throughout nesting season, May 1 – Oct. 31.

The Sarasota County Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance requires that any “temporary structures, including but not limited to beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas which have the potential for entrapment of marine turtles and which may interfere with the use of the natural beach environment for nesting habitat, be removed from the beach nightly, from sunset to sunrise.” Beach furniture and other beach equipment, toys or trash left on the beach overnight during sea turtle nesting season can pose a serious entanglement hazard and obstacle for sea turtles and their hatchlings. To comply with ordinances, beachgoers should wait until at least 6:30 a.m. to set up furniture or equipment. This will allow any new turtle crawls and nests to be documented by Mote scientists. If you see turtle tracks not yet documented by Mote (documented tracks are crossed out with an ‘X’), please avoid placing furniture on them if possible.

In addition, please do not approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, do not make noise around turtles and their nests, and do not use fireworks, flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach. Artificial lights can disorient nesting turtles and their hatchlings, which emerge at night and use dim natural light to find the sea.

Continued on MOTE Marine Laboratory’s website


Lionfish Derby at Mote

The second annual Sarasota Lionfish Derby is an exciting and environmentally beneficial event that invites SCUBA divers and snorkelers to compete to collect as many lionfish as possible in an effort to control the spread of this invasive species. (Scroll to bottom for registration.)

The Derby will be hosted by Mote Marine Laboratory, a world-class marine science institution, in cooperation with Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), which helps study and address the lionfish invasion and sanctions official Lionfish Derbies, and ZooKeeper, the Sarasota-based manufacturer of the leading lionfish containment unit used throughout invaded areas.

Lionfish are venomous, fast-reproducing fish that pose a major threat to Florida’s native species and ecosystems. They consume more than 70 different species of fish and crustaceans, and in heavily invaded areas they have reduced fish populations by up to 90 percent and continue to consume native fishes at unsustainable rates.

The only controlling predators of invasive lionfish in Florida are humans — and the fish are delicious to eat. Lionfish Derbies are an important way to harvest large numbers of this invasive species that has spread along the eastern Atlantic coast, through the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

The Derby will take place from July 10 – 12, with the captains’ meeting on July 10, lionfish hunting July 11 in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico spanning from Collier County to Escambia County and the lionfish weigh-in July 12.

Continued on Mote’s website here »


SBEP Bay Guardians Plant 1,200 Native Dune Plants on Siesta Key

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SARASOTA, FL – A group of 40 volunteers with the SBEP Bay Guardians planted 1,200 native dune plants and removed thousands of cigarette butts recently on Siesta Key Beach. SBEP teamed up with Sarasota County Parks and Natural Resources and Around the Bend Nature Tours on the project. The plants were donated by the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

The Bay Guardians are the region’s most active volunteer group focused on projects that benefit Sarasota Bay spanning Sarasota and Manatee County. The program is managed by SBEP in partnership with Around the Bend Nature Tours. The award-winning SBEP Bay Guardians have donated many thousands of hours supporting restoration projects along the bay and in parks and preserves associated with the bay’s watersheds.


Sarasota Bay Today Announces Interviews with Fox, Tanner and Moore

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SARASOTA, FL – The three newest interviews on the SBEP-sponsored Sarasota Bay Today website feature Suzi Fox, the Executive Director of AMI Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, Brad Tanner, the Senior School Program Coordinator with Mote Marine Laboratory, and Randy Moore, CEO of Triple 3 Marketing and Director of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival.

Suzi and Brad serve on the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). Triple 3 Marketing is the marketing contractor for SBEP. Sarasota Bay Today features 27 interviews with professionals focused on restoring, protecting and studying Sarasota Bay.

Prior interviews include Michael Crosby with Mote Marine Laboratory, Craig Bridges with the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Christine Johnson with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, David Pilston with Save Our Seabirds, Karen Willey with Around the Bend Nature Tours, Tim Rumage with Ringling School of Art & Design, former Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, former Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen, Cris Costello with the Sierra Club, Frank Alcock with New College of Florida, Jeanne Dubi with Sarasota Audubon, Lou Newman, a retired veterinarian and professional photographer, Sherri Swanson with HDR Engineering, James Powell with Sea to Shore Alliance, Jay Leverone with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and Tom Ries with Scheda Ecological and the Ecosphere Restoration Institute.

The Sarasota Bay Today website


Skip The Fertilizer to Protect Our Fun!

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The partners of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign remind residents of Manatee, Sarasota and Pinellas counties and the city of Tampa that they can't apply nitrogen or phosphorous to lawn and landscape plants from June 1-September 30. But that doesn't mean your grass will turn brown, shrivel up and die!

Garden centers throughout these communities offer a variety of "summer-safe" yard products that will help keep your landscape green and growing throughout our long, hot summer. Look for fertilizers with "0" as the first two numbers on the label (as in 0-0-6). These do not contain either nitrogen or phosphorous. More than 70% of these summer-safe products are made right here in Florida, so you are helping local businesses and our economy when you purchase them.

Summer rains don't water fertilizer in, they wash it away -- right into our ponds, rivers, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Too much fertilizer can cause algae blooms and fish kills, spoiling the beautiful waterways that are our major source of recreation. Follow these Florida-friendly lawn care practices to "protect our fun" this summer:

  • Pump some iron. An application of iron, readily available at most garden centers, will keep your lawn green during the summer without excessive growth. Who wants to mow every week anyway?
  • Micro-size It! Apply micronutrients such as zinc and manganese to keep your grass healthy.
  • Get Better Dirt. Mix in composted cow or chicken manure, or your own home compost, to enrich your soil. It's like giving vitamins to your yard.
  • Pick better plants. Buy plants adapted to Florida's hot, humid climate and plant them in the right place according to their sun and water needs. They'll need less water, fertilizer and chemicals year-round, and you'll have more time for bicycling, boating, grilling or just relaxing by the pool sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it.Visit http://plantrealflorida.org/ or http://floridayards.org/ for ideas.
  • Leave Clippings on the Lawn! Don't feed algae blooms by blowing grass clippings into the street, or down the storm drain where they will wash into our waterways. Instead, leave them on your lawn. They are free fertilizer and can supply at least 25% of the nitrogen your grass needs throughout the year.
Less Lawn = More Fun!

Tired of all that mowing, watering and warring with chinch bugs and dollarweed? "Cut" the amount of grass in your yard, by a little or a lot.

Replace water-needy turfgrass with a drought-tolerant groundcover like Asiatic jasmine or perennial peanut. Make a butterfly garden and watch winged jewels visit your flowers. Install a meandering pathway with stepping stones, gravel, shell or pavers. Create your own special seating area under a shady oak.

See how homeowners throughout the region have reduced water, fertilizer and pestcides in our Florida Yard photo gallery!


SBEP Awards Eight Bay Partner Grants to Local Organizations

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SARASOTA, FL – The Policy Board for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) recently approved Bay Partner Grants for eight local organizations selected by the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). They include New College of Florida, Riverview High School, Boys & Girls Club of Manatee County, Save Our Seabirds, Gardeners Out East, Sarasota Audubon, Sarasota Environmental Council of Southwest Florida, and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

The SBEP Bay Partners Grant Program promotes environmental education, community involvement and citizen stewardship to enhance the quality of Sarasota Bay and its tributaries. SBEP has awarded more than $267,000 in grants since 2003. Recipients have included local schools, nonprofits focused on protecting wildlife, neighborhood groups, condominium associations, various foundations, and other groups. The deadline for 2016 grants is March 1. Learn more at SarasotaBay.org.

Contact Information
Randy Moore, Triple 3 Marketing, randy@triple3marketing.com

Study: Third of Big Groundwater Basins in Distress

About one third of Earth's largest groundwater basins are being rapidly depleted by human consumption, despite having little accurate data about how much water remains in them, according to two new studies led by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.

This means that significant segments of Earth's population are consuming groundwater quickly without knowing when it might run out, the researchers conclude. The findings are published today in Water Resources Research.

"Available physical and chemical measurements are simply insufficient," said UCI professor and principal investigator Jay Famiglietti, who is also the senior water scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Given how quickly we are consuming the world's groundwater reserves, we need a coordinated global effort to determine how much is left."

The studies are the first to comprehensively characterize global groundwater losses with data from space, using readings generated by NASA's twin GRACE satellites. GRACE measures dips and bumps in Earth's gravity, which are affected by the mass of water. In the first paper, researchers found that 13 of the planet's 37 largest aquifers studied between 2003 and 2013 were being depleted while receiving little to no recharge.

Continued on NASA’s website here »


FWC to meet June 23-25 in Sarasota

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet June 23-25 in the Hyatt Regency, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. All sessions are open to members of the public who want to attend.

The half-day session Tuesday, June 23, starts at 1:30 p.m. and focuses on strategic discussions on:

  • The Florida panther – Staff will give a status report on panther conservation and management for Commission discussion and policy direction.
  • Imperiled Species Management Plan – A summary of changes staff made to the draft plan based on new scientific information and stakeholder input, as well as potential species listing reclassifications.

The sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, June 24 and 25, both start at 8:30 a.m. The public will be provided opportunities to speak during these two days.

Topics on the June 24 agenda are:
  • Voting on the consent agenda.
  • Staff will present proposed final rules for bear management, including revised measures against intentional feeding of bears and other wildlife and new rules for a limited bear hunting season.
  • Staff will also present proposed draft rules to change statewide and specific length limits for black bass species. The proposed changes will be presented for final rule in June 2016 and would take effect in July 2016.

Topics on the June 25 agenda include:
  • A possible barracuda draft rule addressing population declines in south Florida.
  • Discussion of a proposed special opportunity for lobster harvesters who remove invasive lionfish during the two-day lobster mini-season.

For the full agenda and links to background reports, go to MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings.” Follow live coverage on Twitter @MyFWC (https://twitter.com/MyFWC) and join in the conversation by using tag #FWC2015! Check the Florida Channel for possible live coverage at http://thefloridachannel.org/.


Read about all the news at Florida LAKEWATCH

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The latest issue of the Florida LAKEWATCH newsletter is now available!

  • Current Lake Management Issues of Concern
  • LAKEWATCH Volunteers Help Evaluate New Technology
  • Search for Rare Native Florida Fishes
  • Participate in the Great Secchi Dip-in
  • FWC Conservation Measures in Place for Unique American Eels
  • Volunteer Bulletin Board
  • Florida’s Ornamental Aquaculture

Read the latest issues of the Florida LAKEWATCH newsletter »


Register now for CHNEP Behavior Change Workshop

The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) invites you to a behavior change workshop on Monday, August 31, 2015 at the Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension. We are delighted Salter>Mitchell will lead this workshop. CHNEP is a partnership working to protect the natural environment from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven. Salter>Mitchell is a marketing and communication agency focused on change — behavior change, culture change and changing public opinion.

Participants will be introduced to the concept and application of behavior change outreach in a way that will shift how they think about and conduct educational outreach efforts going forward, and will leave them feeling more confident about putting this practice into action.

The workshop will cover key steps to creating a successful behavior change effort — from determining one's target behavior and audiences, to conducting research, to developing a plan with creative components purposefully designed to influence behavior. Each participants will be given their own behavior change toolkit.

Click here for more information and to register for the event


Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Master Plan survey closing on July 5

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The community has a chance to guide the future of parks, preserves and recreation services in Sarasota County over the next 20 years by participating in an online survey, but the deadline to do so is July 5.

The survey is part of a larger effort to develop a Master Plan that will provide a framework for enhancing the parks system and community input is crucial. The online survey is available at www.scgov.net/ParkProjects and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

"The time you invest in completing this survey will aid us in taking a resident-driven approach to making decisions that will enrich the future of our community and positively affect the lives of its residents" said Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Carolyn Brown.

In addition to the survey, Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources has been conducting public workshops, focus groups and citizen interviews in an effort to better understand our residents' priorities for parks, beach areas, trails, preserves, sports and recreation facilities, programs and services within the community.

For more information or questions about the survey, contact Tricia Wisner at 941-861-5000. ​

Online Survey »


App will show level of algae in water

WASHINGTON — The same technology that allows you to consult your phone to figure out when a big storm is moving in could soon help you decide the best places to fish and swim.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is using satellite technology for an app it’s developing that’s aimed at helping both water-quality managers and, eventually, the public, determine the level of toxic algae in their water sources.

They’re in the process now of beta-testing the app with staff at the EPA. The next step will be to send it to designated water-quality managers in Ohio and Florida to have them test it for any bugs, said Blake Schaeffer, an assistant lab director for the National Exposure Research Lab at the EPA.

It’s technology spawned by last summer’s issues in Lake Erie. For more than two days in August, Toledo residents were barred from drinking tap water because of a toxic algae contamination.

Schaeffer said while satellite data can help people determine the safety of their water, that information is “not accessible to people who need to make decisions like water quality managers."

Continued on The Columbus Dispatch »


Walton Ranch ribbon-cutting set for June 8

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The community is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Walton Ranch site at 10 a.m., on Monday, June 8.

The ribbon-cutting is a celebration to recognize the opening of this preserve site, which offers a host of recreation and educational opportunities in a beautiful, natural setting.

"We are so happy to be opening this preserve to the public," said Carolyn Brown, director of Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources. "It's another important piece for our conservation land corridor in south county and it will be enjoyed for generations to come."

The 3,760-acre preserve was purchased by Sarasota County in 2010 using funding through the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP), in partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The preserve features ranchland, natural habitats and valuable water resources. Hiking, biking and birding are just a few of the available recreational opportunities.

This ribbon-cutting is the first phase of an ongoing effort to enhance amenities at the preserve.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Walton Ranch site, located at 7020 N. Toledo Blade Blvd., North Port, is scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, June 8.

For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.​

Friends of Sarasota County Parks website »


Sarasota Bay Guardians Host Volunteer Event - Siesta Key Beach

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The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program's Bay Guardians are teaming up with Sarasota County Parks and Natural Resources and, Around the Bend Nature Tours for a volunteer day.The group will be helping to plant native plants and remove trash at Siesta Key beach.

Check-in at Pavilion #25 which is in the southernmost picnic area adjacent to the parking lot. Park in the most southern lot.

This event is suitable for all ages.

Please wear hat, sunscreen, close-toed shoes (old tennis shoes work great), clothes that can get dirty and work gloves. Also, please bring a reusable water bottle if you have one to reduce our plastic pollution. Since we will be planting bring a shovel or trowel if you have one.

Bay Guardians shirts will be available for all volunteers! If you already have one please wear your shirt to the event. Please carpool if you can!

WHAT: Bay Guardians Volunteer Day

WHERE: Siesta Key 948 Beach Rd. Sarasota, FL 34221

WHEN: Saturday, June 13th, 2015, 9:00am-12:00pm

Lunch will be provided for all volunteers after the activities are done!

RSVP Required: Click here to register!

Questions? Contact info@sarasotabay.org, 941-955-8085


House Passes Posey-Murphy Bipartisan Plan to Help Estuaries with Critical Needs

Washington, Jun 1 - Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 944) to reauthorize funding for the National Estuary Program (NEP). Reps. Bill Posey and Patrick Murphy, two of four principal co-authors of H.R. 944, were able to secure the inclusion of their bipartisan plan (H.R. 573) to reprioritize existing funding so more money is available for estuaries with critical needs like our Indian River Lagoon. In July, Posey and Murphy introduced the Estuary Urgent Needs Priority Program Act to meet high priority needs across the nation’s 28 national estuaries.

“This common sense plan will help provide critical funding for our nation’s estuaries, and make available additional funding to estuaries that are experiencing urgent and challenging ecological problems, including our own Indian River Lagoon,” said Rep. Posey. “I’m pleased to see this important legislation move forward in a strongly bipartisan manner.”

“This year, toxic algae blooms have already threatened our waterways in the Treasure Coast,” said Rep. Murphy. “This legislation provides additional financial resources to directly address the challenges we continue to face in the Indian River Lagoon. I appreciate the House’s bipartisan work on this effort and urge the Senate to quickly take up this measure.”

In addition to providing strong funding for base NEP grants, the Posey-Murphy plan directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prioritize funding to provide additional awards for estuaries that are experiencing urgent and challenging ecological problems. Some problems include: sea grass loss, reoccurring harmful algal blooms and invasive exotic species or jellyfish proliferation. These awards would be provided on a competitive basis and would be funded through funds already authorized for the NEP program. The base bill also secures higher levels of funding for each estuary’s base grant.

Under H.R. 944, the National Estuary Program is reauthorized for Fiscal Years 2016-2020 for $27 million. The Posey-Murphy plan makes 15% of appropriated funds available for the additional competitive awards to estuaries with urgent needs. The bill also gives direction to the EPA to ensure that no less than 80% of the funding is reserved for estuary base grants.

The National Estuary Program, which enjoys broad bipartisan support, was created in the 1987 Clean Water Act Amendments. It is run through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect and restore water quality and ensure ecological health of estuaries of national significance. There are 28 “estuaries of national significance” that span multiple states and congressional districts all over the country. Each estuary uses local input and local priorities to create a management plan that addresses the issues of water quality and ecological health.

Click here to view original source »


Experts tie hurricane changes to climate change

TAMPA — Climate change may be triggering an evolution in hurricanes, with some researchers predicting the violent storms could move farther north, out of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, where they have threatened coastlines for centuries.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean begins Monday, and forecasters are predicting a relatively quiet season. They say three hurricanes are expected over the next six months, and only one will turn into a major hurricane.

Florida hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in a decade, and researchers are increasingly pointing to climate change as a potential factor.

There is a consensus among atmospheric researchers studying the connection between global warming and hurricanes that centuries- old patterns may be shifting, said Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“There are a few things we agree on,” he said, “and a few things we don’t know much about.”

He said researchers generally agree that the frequency of high-intensity storms, Category 3, 4 and 5, will increase as the planet warms. “By how much? There’s a lot of uncertainty,” he said.

The second generally accepted theory is that with rising sea levels, storm surge could become more of a threat than wind. “The sea level is going up and will continue to go up,” he said.

Rain also is expected to increase during hurricanes, he said. “It’s in widespread agreement that as you warm the climate, hurricanes will rain a lot more.”

Other theories of how climate change affects hurricane activity are still being researched, he said, and there is some disagreement among scientists. One is the frequency of less intense hurricanes, the Category 1 and 2 storms.

Continued in The Tampa Tribune »


MOTE and partners advance ocean research to benefit human health

Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are thrilled to take part in the first-ever Gulf Coast Innovation Challenge — an initiative of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation that aims to advance marine science and Southwest Florida’s “Blue Economy.”

This incentive-grant competition — likened to the XPRIZE for its focus on problem-solving innovation — is offering up to $500,000 in grants to promote meaningful solutions for enhancing Blue Economy pillars like marine science, technology, biomedicine, sustainable aquaculture, healthy fisheries and much more. Up to five teams will receive grants of $25,000 each to prototype their solutions. Then each team will present its prototype to the foundation’s Board of Directors, who will choose one team to receive up to an additional $375,000 to develop its solution for market.

The Challenge offers an exciting opportunity to build upon Florida’s significant, existing relationship with the ocean. Ocean-related economic activity contributed $17.5 billion to Florida’s gross domestic product as of 2010, according to a report from Florida Ocean Alliance.

Mote — an independent nonprofit institution dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans — has a nearly $90-million statewide economic impact through its world-class marine science and technology development, public education and outreach.

“Mote is a leader in many of the research areas tied to our Blue Economy, but I think the Southwest Florida community doesn’t fully realize what a jewel they’ve helped create here — one of the world’s leading independent marine research institutions is right here in your backyard,” said Mote President and CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby.

Crosby said that the knowledge Mote gains from the sea is intended to have a major ripple effect. “As we make groundbreaking discoveries and develop new intellectual property, we actively seek venture groups that can build upon our results to help promote the long-term conservation sustainable use of the marine environment, while also improving the quality of life for our community and society in general.”

Mote scientists are leading or collaborating in several groundbreaking projects as part of the Gulf Coast Innovation Challenge. Below are highlights showing how Mote’s unique studies, and new partnerships emerging from them, could enable breakthroughs in human medicine and lay groundwork for science-based economic growth.

For full article continue on MOTE’s website here »

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