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Traveling photo exhibit portrays faces of Tampa Bay

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image Chris Smith, the phosphate producer’s spokesperson, puts final touches on the traveling exhibit before the company hosts a public reception Tuesday. The exhibit next will be displayed at the SouthShore Regional Library.

A little over 20 years ago, a well used Tampa Bay was designated “an estuary of national significance” by congressional decree.

By MELODY JAMESON

LITHIA – A little over 20 years ago, a well used Tampa Bay was designated “an estuary of national significance” by congressional decree.

Today, in most segments of Florida’s largest open water estuary the water quality is as good as it was 55 years ago.

The evidence has been captured in full natural color with a series of demonstrating photographs by Florida photographers from different backgrounds and now is combined to create a traveling exhibit celebrating not only a highly productive ecosystem but also its appointed guardian, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

Also created by the U.S. Congress, TBEP observes its 20th anniversary this year. The exhibit includes finalists from its 2010 photography competition.

The 20-piece touring display now is mounted here, on the first floor of the Mosaic Company’s Florida headquarters on FishHawk Boulevard, where a public reception is scheduled between 4 and 6 p.m., Tuesday, August 9, according to Chris Smith, Mosaic spokesperson.

The exhibit is slated to move on to the SouthShore Regional Library on 19th Avenue at Beth Shields Way on September 1 and then will open at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa on October 10, said Nanette O’Hara, community outreach coordinator with the estuary program.

From the two related images showing “The Making of A Marsh Mangrove Coast” by “Wimauma’s Donna Bollenbach to an Ibis mirrored by the bay water in which it stands – titled Ibis Reflection Awaiting the Storm by Joe Bailey of Riverview - the photographs depict the many faces of a bay that once hosted pre-historic mammals, sustained pre-Columbian natives and floated the ships of conquistadors.

There’s the touching image of a black-headed tern sheltering her chick on a sea shelled beach found by noted wildlife photographer Joan Miller of Tierra Verde and a breathtaking sunset illuminating a changing tide by Janessa Cobb, a marine biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg, and the burrowing Flounder forever recorded by Bradenton lawyer turned underwater photographer, Jimmy White.

From an aerial view of a elongated key to a panorama delivering a full taste of bay islands to a long distance image of the soon-to-be history inverted St. Petersburg pier building, photographers display their diverse techniques in exploring their visions of a bay measuring 400 square miles in size.

The image of an egret, backlit by a setting sun as it approaches its roost for the night and shot by Peter Lousberg, a retired attorney living in Seminole, was chosen as the TBEP 20th anniversary poster.

Several of the artist photographers are expected to attend the Tuesday reception and therefore would be available to discuss their subject matter, techniques, favorite equipment and bay impressions with interested visitors, Smith noted. Each photograph also is accompanied by an educational caption spotlighting the progress made in restoring the bay, the variety of plant and wildlife supported by its waters the area’s connection with its signature waterway.

Designed to portray the beauty and diversity of Tampa Bay from individual perspectives, the traveling exhibit has been underwritten by the phosphate and potash producer.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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