August 12, 2011

The Drought Is Breathtaking

TIME magazine is running a breathtaking collage from photojournalist George Steinmetz illustrating in images the severity of the American drought and its impact on communities. I’m taken aback by several photos of parched areas neatly juxtaposed against relatively lush green lawn-scapes that simply do not belong. Like colorful jade green Legos spilled across a tan tile floor in the average American home. And just as painful to look at an appreciate for their waste of water as it is to walk over wayward Legos on barefeet in the middle of the night.

I’m particularly struck by the image above, one of Steinmetz’ best in the piece where “the Island” resort is no longer an island at all and the boat docks sit on baked mud.

All this makes me proud to own a garden dominated by native Florida plants that tolerate the poor soil, wicked temperatures, and lack of rain with a stout constitution.  It makes me likewise proud of my incredibly dirty Subaru sitting in the driveway.  I can’t consent to sudsing down a car when whole communities are running dry.

August 11, 2011

Another Manatee Rehab’d and Released

 

In other FWC related news today, staff biologists and SeaWorld’s Animal Care team were able to successfully release an adult manatee back into the wild near Merritt Island. The manatee in question had been brought in last winter during a cold snap after observation it had symptoms of cold stress and needed assistance.

Congratulations to both teams involved and especially those fantastic folks at SeaWorld who work so hard to rehabilitate these animals throughout the year.

August 11, 2011

Marmoset for Sale? Better Have A Permit!

Remember the other week when FWC officers busted a guy on out-of-season hunting violations based on his Facebook photos?  Well, the FWC doesn’t stop there in using the internet to search out wildlife violations in Florida.

Recently officers were tipped that a man was attempting to sell a marmoset – a small monkey requiring a special permit for sale and possession in our Sunshine state – via internet classifieds.  They set up a sale with him over the web to purchase the animal at $2,700.  When the man opened up his home for the investigators to view the monkey for purchase, they smacked him with several misdemeanors after he failed to produce the necessary permit, including a violation that the size of the cage for the monkey was not in keeping with standards.

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August 10, 2011

Mimic Me This

Of all the octopi in the world, these are my faovrite. Still wishing we could get them to mimic candycanes on some underwater film for Christmas-time fun.

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August 10, 2011

Juneau Gets His Kicks

What a minute, I know that whale!  I used to run back and forth across his underwater panels while Juneau was still at SeaWorld Orlando.  What a sweetheart.  Never thought to bring my trumpet in to play him a tune.

And yes, the sillier you think you are being, the more entertaining you are to a marine mammal.  In the field we call this “environmental enrichment”, when we literally play to break up a zoo animals’ day.

As highly acoustic animals, it makes sense that a beluga would respond to this quirky display.  Never mind the dancing and enormous sombreros.

July 13, 2011

Bears! (Stephen Colbert Was Right!)

Imagine this, you’re saving the planet on your usual bike route to work when …

A Panama City man was knocked off his bicycle July 7 on Highway 98 in Tyndall AFB when a black bear trying to cross the busy four-lane highway collided with him. John Hearn, who works on Tyndall and bikes the 12 miles to work several times a week, was left with bumps, bruises, road rash and a broken bike after the collision at 6:40 a.m. The bear, estimated to weigh 250-300 pounds, bolted into nearby woods after the collision. Hearn estimated he was going 23 miles per hour when the unexpected happened. He did not require medical attention. In the four years he’s been biking to work Hearn says he’s been hit by cars twice but this is his first encounter with a bear.

The world is just a crazy place somedays! (Above photo via FWC, Stan Kirkland.)

July 6, 2011

They're Heeeeere!

It’s hard to believe but groups around Florida are starting to report hatchling sea turtles on their beaches! The Florida Oceanographic Society shared these awesome photos of tiny loggerheads coming up out of the sand and makin’ tracks down to the water at Bathtub Beach.

As always, if you’re lucky enough to see an emergence of sea turtles in person, do not get this close (these photos were taken by permitted individuals) and let them do their own thing.  It may seem helpful to walk them down to the water, but that natural weeding out that occurs is a necessary thing.

Something that you can do to benefit the hatchlings? Always be sure to fill in the holes from your sand castle building adventures!  (Also tear down any castles before you leave.)   These monuments and pitfalls can become traps and are potentially lethal to hatchlings that are scurrying off the sand in favor the water away from gulls, racoons, and crabs.

Stranded and sick hatchlings (or “washbacks” as they’re termed if they occur after strong storms) can always be reported, the best group I know of for our area is the Sea Turtle Preservation Society.

June 30, 2011

Cyclops Bull Shark? Bull-oney!

I really needed a laugh today and boy did one of my pals deliver via email this morning:

We cover a lot of hybrid fishes here on Reef Builders but the one eyed bull shark recently discovered in the Sea of Cortez really takes the cake. The cyclops shark was an unborn pup that was removed from a large female bull shark,Carcharhinus leucas, captured off of Mexico in the Sea of Cortez. Even though the photo of the cyclops shark is totally real and confirmed by scientists who have seen the shark pup, there’s a natural tendency to dismiss the photo as an excellent photoshopping job. But it isn’t.

Unfortunately the cyclops shark fetus was already dead by the time it was removed from its large female bull shark mother. Although the cyclops shark may have been at a disadvantage in the wild, bull sharks are pretty aggressive and they have a keenly developed sense of smell and electromagnetic field which is their primary mode of hunting. Had the cyclops shark survived it would have been the ultimate public aquarium attraction, but until another one is caught we’ll just have to contend with the occasional albino shark.

Hahahahaha!  Look at that eye!

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June 26, 2011

Dolphins Aren't the Only Spinning Ocean Predators

http://orlandosentinel.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf

How fun is this?! New Smyrna Beach is a lightning rod for shark activity.  It’s well known locally and internationally by the dubious distinction as the “shark bite capital of the world”!  This fact hardly deters all the surfers here in the Sunshine State.  Many I know have a deep reverence for these animals and see their presence in the water as good luck in some ways.

However, that’s typically when they’re sighting smaller blacktip sharks.  Who knew we would ever see video of a spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna) beautifully executing the feeding strategy that earned him his moniker in video!  All new meaning to hang ten if you ask me.

June 25, 2011

"Ode to the Credit Card Captains"

As you may know, my parents have been off on a sailing adventure in the BVI’s for the past two weeks. They came home with great tans, good stories, and a renewed ability to cope with their crazy busy lives in the States. (Honestly I’m just glad they came back, I was pretty sure I’d get a phone call telling me to sell the house and all their belongings and forward the proceeds to their new expatriate lifestyle in the Carribbean.)

Sail charters in the BVI’s are fairly common, but not all the potential captains are particularly well screened for competency. Case in point, the “Credit Card Captains” in this jaw-dropping little video. Whew. Of course I’m far more concerned about the damage done to the harbor by the anchorage, dragging of mooring balls, and all the rest – but my Dad assures me most of the harbor where this scene unfolded is sand and rubble rock bottom, so they probably didn’t damage too much seagrass bed and coral reef in the process.