Dateline Florida

Published May 31, 2007

The pills we take may be affecting life in the seas

Could birth control pills be harming sea life? Mote Marine Laboratory scientists want to find out. Researchers will gather blood samples from juvenile bull sharks Friday along the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers. They'll tag them with "passive sampling devices" before releasing them. They're checking to see whether the youngsters have been exposed to human pharmaceuticals such as estrogens from birth control pills and antidepressants. How would that happen, you say? Human waste, directly and through wastewater discharge. Enough said.

Will anyone show up for the party?

Dear presidential candidates: Please play with us. Love, the state of Florida. The state will host televised presidential debates in January, but some worry the candidates will be too afraid to attend given the national parties' displeasure over state lawmakers' decision to move up the primary to Jan. 29. Organizers say they hope relations will be smoothed over by then. The one-hour debate among Republicans is set for Jan. 23; Democrats follow on Jan. 24. Location to come. P.S. Candidates must get at least 10 percent support in a Mason-Dixon survey to participate. Sorry, Max Linn.


Nicole Harris Hall had a blood-alcohol content of 0.181 and 0.182 when she crashed into Margaret L. Caouette in June. A story Wednesday gave an incorrect level.


University of Florida wind engineers aren't waiting for real hurricanes to research how powerful storms damage homes. Wednesday, just days before the start of the 2007 storm season, they unveiled the world's largest portable hurricane wind and rain simulator. The four-engine monster can unleash winds of up to 130 mph, or Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Mounted on a trailer, the simulator also has high-pressure water jets to mimic a storm's torrential rain. Ultimately, researchers hope to figure out how homes fall apart under all that wind and rain - and how to build ones that don't fall apart so easily.