On the afternoon of January 1st, rangers Scott Johnson and John Herrod – the former a field training ranger, the latter a trainee currently assigned to the park – were conducting surveillance on Mowry Canal, an area subject to frequent poaching, when they saw a man wheeling a wheelbarrow out of the area. The man admitted to having two plastic grocery bags full of oysters. The rangers found 477 oysters inside the bags, with 474 of them under the legal size limit. Officers from the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission responded and the man was charged with violations of both federal and state regulations. The case was forwarded to the prosecutor as a mandatory appearance since the total fines, if collateral fines had been written, would have been close to $24,000. Protecting oysters is essential because changes in freshwater flow in South Florida have reduced or eliminated many oyster reef areas that provide essential habitat for other estuarine inhabitants.