Join Dr. Jim Locascio, staff scientist in Mote Marine Laboratory’s Fisheries Habitat Ecology program, for coffee and pastries at Mote’s Boca Grande office (480 East Railroad Ave., Railroad Plaza, Boca Grande, FL 33921).

The free public discussion is from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. After a brief presentation about his work, Locascio will be available for casual conversation and Q&A.

In 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory got its start in Charlotte Harbor —one of the deepest natural inlets in Florida and the center of tarpon reproduction and a way station for the tarpon that make up this famous fishery.

Building upon Mote’s historic ties to the Boca Grande community, Mote created the Mote-Boca Grande Partnership to make a significant difference where Locascio studies tarpon — protecting them requires understanding what habitats they need to survive and how they respond to changes in fishing pressure and river flows.

Locascio is also studying protected populations of goliath grouper in Jupiter on Florida’s Atlantic coast and Lee County on the Gulf coast by combining sonar data with recordings of fish sounds — two key types of information normally collected separately. Learning to combine these acoustic data could provide a new quantitative way to study fish spawning aggregations — a “shortcut” that would expedite and enhance fisheries research and monitoring.

“Both tarpon and goliath grouper are of extreme ecological and recreational importance,” Locascio said. “I encourage people to come out and have a casual conversation on what is being done to study these vitally important species that affect us all.”

Join in on the conversation and learn more about what Locascio does and how you can help.