This blog is dedicated to the environmental well-being of our Florida coastal habitat.

This blog is
dedicated to the environmental well-being of coastal habitat.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sea grasses with a twist

There was lots of this "grass" in the wrack at N. Lido on Thursday!
One has to look closely to see why it is interesting.
The little "bushes" look like an epiphytic red alga.
The round "sticks" could be dead manatee grass

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sea Grasses

Add ImageTubular = Manatee Grass
Flat blade = Shoal Grass or Turtle Grass
Shoal grass is the same width as manatee grass.
The grass patch above was growing in the shallows off Bird Key on Ringling Causeway.
Manatee grass root and rhyzome system

Testing does not reveal why hundreds of fighting conchs washed ashore
- Naples News

Dead Man's Fingers

A sponge about 1 foot long, dead man's fingers has finger-thick branches attached at a thin wrist. It's an animal with no brain! This specimen was found in the shallows at North Lido Beach.

Immature Stone Crab

This tiny stone crab (approx. 1 inch) was in a tidal pool at Bird Key.
Adults become olive with black spots.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Carefree Learner: Last year's trip

The good ship, Carefree Learner, will begin its voyages of discovery across Sarasota Bay in January 2011. We can't wait! Here are some photos from last year.

The captain and tour leader throw out a seine net and bring up the catch:
The crew sorts through the catch.A spider crab appears.
Here's a baby (blue?) crab.
... and this puffer fish is ticked off. The puffer is believed to be the 2nd most poisonous vertebrate in the world.
This puffer is a striped burrfish and has only tiny prickles for scales.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fighting conchs invade Bonita Beach
- Naples News

Marine Scene Newsletter -September-October 2010

Bud's Story: Tree Love

Here's the top of Florida's cabbage palm. Standing next to it is the strangler fig.

The cabbage palm is leaning slightly over the edge of the Inland Waterway at Nokomis Beach. Water is eroding the sand away from its short outer roots. Despite the existence of a few, long (10-15 feet) central roots, the tree is in danger of falling into the water.
Now, look at this... The strangler fig has wrapped its roots around the palm. No danger of falling into the water now!
Go on Bud's Nokomis Beach walk. The story is better when he tells it.

P.S. Don't the cabbage palm's outer roots look like the tunicates(?) below.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tunicate Mystery

Best guess for the mystery photo from 2 days ago is: TUNICATES

See the following video to decide if you agree:

Habit Restoration Workdays

MangroveHabitat Restoration Workdays

Help us restore Florida's coastal habitat. Workdays will include planting, litter control, removal of invasive exotic plants and working in our nursery at the Osprey Preserve. Learn about native plant species and the impact of invasives. Great community service opportunity for individuals, families, and civic, school, religious, and scouting groups. Excellent way for students to accrue community service hours. Work at your own pace. If interested, call John (941-966- 7308) so he can plan nursery purchases and schedules.

February target date for kayak launch
- Anna Maria Islander

Teaching reef gets 'dry run' at school
- Florida Keys News

County to consider boat ramp purchase
- Englewood Sun

Monday, October 25, 2010


What are the "icicles" hanging down off the bottom of this rock/concrete slab? The rock is on a beach and is out of the water at low tide. It has been a mystery for over a month, now. I came upon the answer when looking for something else.

Double click on the photo for a closer view.
The answer will be published in a day or two.


Buttonwood live farther from water than red, black, and white mangrove. They are usually found above the high tide line. The fruit and flowers do not remain long, but are distinctive when seen.

Tri-colored Heron

L 26". Adult back, wings, neck, and head are slaty blue. The belly and underwings are white. There is a white line down the entire foreneck and the base of the neck is purplish. The neck and legs are long; the bill very long, thin, gray, and black-tipped. During courtship, the tri-colored has long, buffy plumes on back. It fishes by slow stalking and wild running pursuit in shallow water.

Sea Pork

Probably sea pork, a colony of tiny tunicate animals known as zooids.
This one looks like a sweet potato and is about the same size.
It was found near the surf at Big Pass, South Lido Beach.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Coast Guard says substance found floating in Gulf is algae, not oil
- New Orleans Times-Picayune


This species of brown sargassum has berrylike, gas-filled bladders
which help keep the fronds afloat to promote photosynthesis.
A specialized group of marine animals and plants can live in this floating island.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lined starfish

This lined starfish, about an inch long,
was found near the surf on north Naples Beach.
The "thorny starfish" is the other common star.
The body actually consists of five equal segments, each containing a duplicate set of various internal organs. They have no heart, brain, nor eyes, but some brittle stars seem to have light sensitive parts on their arms. Their mouth is situated on the underside and their anus on top.

Beach water sampling results for Sarasota Today
- Florida Dept. of Health

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bud Doyle's Guided Beach Walks

From mid-October 2010 thru April 2011, Bud Doyle will conduct
guided beach walks at Casperson Beach and North Jetty Beach Park.
See the EVENTS section @ .

Sea grapes are ripening

The grapes have a large seed and little pulp
.....but, the pulp tastes great.

A guide to jellyfish in local waters
- Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Currents steering sea nettles our way
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Burrowing sea cucumber

Burrowing sea cucumbers live in sand or sandy mud,
often in grass beds.
They can grow to ten inches long and
usually have either two longbrown blotches
down the body or brown spotted.
The two examples show the “bumpy”skin.

Photos by Dave Bulloch and Marinell Davis

Scientists lower Gulf health grade after oil spill
- Naples News

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sarasota Bay Nesting Birds Need Your Help

Sarasota Bay Nesting Birds Need Your Help!

Calling all boaters for the 2nd Annual Monofilament Cleanup

Each year, thousands of feet of fishing line become entangled on Sarasota Bay’s bird nesting islands and shorelines and pose a fatal hazard to birds and other wildlife. This cleanup event, co-sponsored by Save Our Seabirds and Audobon of Florida, helps to reduce the threat of entanglement while recycling the fishing line. Volunteers will remove snarled fishing line from mangroves and shorelines of Sarasota Bay’s colonial bird nesting islands.

• Meet at Save Our Seabirds Sanctuary
*1708 Ken Thompson Parkway(City Island, next to Mote)
• Pre-registration and a boat are required

A terrifying fish tale: a jump and then a stab

This 1905 Geographical Society of Baltimore sketch, part of the
NOAA Central Library Historical Collection, shows a Hound fish (Tylosurus caribbaeus).
- Miami Herald

Monday, October 18, 2010

Plumed worm

Plumed worms protect themselves by constructing tough,
skin-like tubes that are encrusted with shells and other debris.
There were a number of them in very shallow water
just off Bird Key (Ringling Bridge) this week.

(At first, I thought this was the stem of a petticoat or other alga.
Many were growing nearby.
A brief pull didn't uproot it.)
Click above to watch the plumed worm building its tube.
I'm not at all sure what the reddish glob to the upper right is.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dead animals are Exhibit A in Gulf investigation
- Houma Today

Jellyfish : Watch your step

There are lots of moon jellyfish at the Taft Dr. kayak put-in at
South Lido County Park.
The moon jellies are clear except
for the 4 lobe-shaped gonads which are violet-pink for males.

It's difficult to see their short tentacles.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Oil still taints local wetlands
- Huoma Today

Bird Key Park: Why has construction stopped?

The east end of Bird Key Park is really looking nice,
but construction on the west end of the island appears to be at a standstill.

Petticoat Alga at Bird Key

Petticoat alga has taken over the shallows.
Also, there was lots of seaweed lining the shore.

It just makes the area more interesting.

Hello World

Today, we welcome Belarus and Iran to our BLOG.

Crabbers predict frenzied pace
- Florida Keys News

Beer Can Island - a sense of place
- Longboat Key News

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mystery Creatures

The nets of the Carefree Learner excursion boat
pull up many strange creatures from the shallows of Sarasota Bay.
We're waiting for a positive identification of the treasure above.
Animal? Vegetable? Colonial? Interesting features? Tunicate?
(Double-click to zoom in)

Off the beaten path on LBK
- Longboat Key Observer

Mote and Chicago Zoological Society receive top honors
- Longboat Key News

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great Blue Heron

This great blue heron is ventilating.The extremely rare whooping crane and sandhill crane are larger,
but the great blue is the largest shorebird.
(At least it's the tallest. The white pelican,
which winters in Florida, is another very large bird.)

More than you ever wanted to know about avian respiration:

Great Egret

The great egret is seen along Gulf shores
and inland ponds in Sarasota.

This one has been feasting on fresh-water snails.

Friday, October 8, 2010

SCCF and Captiva Kayak join forces for Monofilament Madness Month
- Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Casperson Beach Native Plants and Sunflower

This flower looks like a dune sunflower,
but the very thin leafs leave room for doubt.

Casperson sweet pea

Yes, there is a yellow sweet pea
and it grows in the upland area of Casperson Beach.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cliffs of Casperson

...and on the rocks along the shore are STRIPED FALSE LIMPETS.
They have a muscular foot and can move along the rocks (slowly!)
(We wonder what caused the craters
on the hard surface of these limpets.)

Shelling adventure to North Captiva helps raise funds for Shell Museum
- Sanibel Captival Islander

First census of marine life 2010
- Sarasota Herald Tribune
(AP PhotoUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life, Russ Hopcroft)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Water is better and habitat richer in Sarasota Bay
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Goo on stick -- waiting for ID

Sandy-skinned tunicate(?)

This glob was about 4 inches long and looked like a wrinkled potato.
Sand and shell bits are embedded in its "skin".
It was found near the water line on North Lido Beach.
It is a living animal and lives by filtering particles from seawater.