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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deadman's Island Restoration

Gulf Breeze to discuss stingray protection
- Pensacola News Journal

Mangrove Mystery

This gelatinous blob was in the shallow water of the mangrove area on the east tip of City Island, Lido Key. It was about 5 inches in diameter and, at first, resembled a baby stingray in shape. Perhaps it is the egg mass of some animal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tourist Tree: Gumbo Limbo

The Gumbo-limbo is often referred to as the Tourist Tree because its bark is red and peeling, like the skin of sunburnt tourists. The tree is a native to tropical regions of the Americas. In the United States, it is found mostly near the shores of SE Florida.
This specimen is at the edge of the parking lot at Quickpoint Park on the south end of Longboat Key. It is a young tree and its trunk is barely peeling. In fact, only the southern side is starting to peel.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Lady and the Sharks

YOU must read this book.
(It's available on
and, probably, a bookstore near you.)

Sand Perch

This young man is very proud of the sand perch and other fish his dad caught at Big Pass, South Siesta. The perch is about 8" long. (We're not 100% certain of the ID. )
These fish are found from inside waters, bays and channels all the way out to open water, usually along open or patchy bottoms. The sand perch has both male and female organs all at the same time, i.e. it is a hermaphrodite.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holes 1-2 feet deep found up and down shoreline

It's a treasure hunter. Here, he's working on Bradenton Beach.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Plan to fight global warming could create blooms of toxic algae, researchers say
- Bradenton Herald

Green sea turtles cleaned from spill in north Fla.
- Bradenton Herald

Scrawled cowfish

This 8" scrawled cowfish was found way up on the beach at South Lido Beach. It appears to have been out of the water for quite some time and is unusually pale. When alive, it would be gold to yellow with broad blue lines. The hexagonal patterns on its body help distinguish this cowfish from others in the same family.

New Game's Afoot

Big Pass, Siesta Beach

Aquatic gem turns 50

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

- Miami Herald

Oyster Plant

Oyster plants add color to the woods on SE Lido Park.
Perhaps the lovely white flowers encased in purple look like oysters?
These plants spread rapidly, so many consider them invasive. Also, dogs may be allergic to them. You'll love them or hate them. They seem to be fine in their current location.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thornton Key trails tell a story
- Englewood Sun Herald

Bird Key Park Construction

Hurrah! Work is progressing at Bird Key Park off Ringling Bridge in Sarasota. The west end was completed earlier this summer with walks, trees, kayak launch, and swinging seat under a blue canopy. We can't wait to see what this east end will look like.

It is still difficult to approach the beach for wading. The bricks with holes make walking hazardous and there are only a couple of spots to walk down to the water easily.

Bradenton Beach Jetties

Several old jetties keep the sands from washing away.
Gulls, terns and pelicans flock to them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crab Eyes

Jeepers, creepers, look at these peepers...

Above is a giant red hermit crab in a crowned conch shell. The conch is about 5" long. They are in about 6 inches of water. Note the eyes on the left which look like life saver candy.

Compared to humans, crabs have much smaller eyes and brains but they are still extremely competent in using vision to make snap decisions and spot trouble. This is more than most robots can. Research into how fiddler crabs use vision may one day help robots to act autonomously.

Their eyes are tailored to the specific needs in their flat crab world. For instance, crab eyes see the whole 360 degree panorama around them. They are able to perceive polarized light. The eyes are on stalks like periscopes which fold into protective grooves when the crab enters the burrow. Eyes act as an early warning system, provide compass information for navigation, enable the crab to judge distance, and see birds flying above and predators approaching from behind.

Shipwreck: Regina Underwater Archaeological Preserve

No longer a derelict boat, The Regina is a haven for sea life and a delight for human divers.

FWC launches database to help identify derelict vessels
- Fort Myers News Press

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Great Blue looking great

Wet Great Blue Heron

It appears that this Great Blue is wet and drying its wings. I've seen these birds wading into water above their knees before, but not in high enough to get soaked. The Great Blue is a wading \bird, not a diving bird.

The one above is in the mangrove tops at Quick Point.

I've seen a Great Blue with his wings in this position here once before.

Invasive fish are problem in Keys
- Fort Myers News-Press

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gulf snail on seagrass

This saltwater snail arrived on Lido Beach at Big Pass on a "blade" of manatee grass. The snail is almost 1 inch long.

One suggestion is that this is TWO snails:
a gastropod sitting on top of an olive snail.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quiet Water Kayak Trips, Sarasota, December 2010

Leisurely paddling and observation at a variety of sites difficult to visit by any other means. Kayak, paddle, life vest, etc supplied. If you haven’t used a kayak before, a short training session before the trip will get you going. Call John at (941)966-7308 for reservations. Members who own a kayak and life vests are welcome to go on trips marked with an asterisk(*) for a $5 donation to ALS. Cost is $20 members, $25 non-members unless otherwise noted. Trips into State parks require an additional entrance fee.

* December 2 Sister Keys/Longboat Key 10am-1pm
* December 4 Blackburn Point/Oscar Scherer State Park 11am-3pm $30men-$35non-mem
December 7 Myakka State Park 10am-1pm
* December 9 Little Sarasota Bay/Palmer Point Park 12noon-3pm
* December 11 Bird Key/South Lido Park 1pm- 4pm
* December 16 Waterways of Nokomis 10am-1pm
December 18 Myakka State Park 10am-1pm
* December 21
Bird Key/South Lido Park 1pm- 4pm
* December 24 Little Sarasota Bay/Palmer Point Park 10am-1pm
* December 25 Little Sarasota Bay/Palmer Point Park 10am-1pm


It's difficult to tell some of the small shore birds apart and their appearance changes with the seasons. The short black bill, small size (5in.) and overall coloring lead to a tentative identification as plovers. They are usually seen in flocks, here, on a South Lido Key sandbar.

Hard limits for pollutants in Florida waterways
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quickpoint Nature Area

A ombination of sand path and wood planks make this a pleasant, shady place to walk.
Cactus enjoy the heat and sandy soil in some places.

Dolphin Intelligence

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Common Sulphur Butterfly

Can you see it?
Common sulphur butterflies were in abundance in the bay side woods at Quickpoint, south Longboat Key. They were less than one inch long. Some were yellow, top and bottom. Others, like this one, were yellow on top when flying. When landing on weeds, their wings were folded up so only the underside was visible. Barely visible is a better way to put it. They blended perfectly into the background.

Bradenton Beach Dune Project

See: Bradenton Beach Waterfront Projects

Meetings highlight reef program: Volusia officials cast wary eye on possible fishing ban
- Daytona Beach News-Journal

Pier demolition aids Gulf sturgeon research
- Pensacola News-Journal

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Deep-sea corals near BP well site dead and dying

Scientists find toxic algae in open ocean, botching idea for fighting global warming

Beachgoers warned about dangerous weekend conditions
- Miami Herald

Angry Shark Steals Camera
- CBSNews

Blue Crab

Photo and Notes by Dave Bulloch
A member of the swimming crabs sought after in nearly every estuary bordering the East and Gulf coast. Grows to 8 inches across its carapace. If you keep a salt-water aquarium don’t introduce this critter into a tank with other species. It is a relentless hunter and you will lose everything else in the tank.

This is a "jimmy", a male crab. It has blue-tipped claws whereas a "sook", a female, has orange-red tipped claws.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ceriths at City Island

There are always lots of these snails to be seen in Florida, especially on boulders in the surf. They come in browns and blacks and reds and whites and mixtures of these colors. These snails are about 1 inch long and are slender with beaded ridges.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Appearance of sea pork on beaches not a threat

- Sanibel Captiva Islander

Here is my photo of the colonial tunicate. A photo of sea pork appears in an recent earlier article .

Racoons are littoral creatures!

They catch crabs and small fish (when they can).
Here are thier tracks in the shallows of Sarasota Bay on Bradenton Beach...

Anglers: Permit ban still not enough
- Keys News

Call for more Gulf damage study at Mote gathering
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sea Pork

Sea pork is a a colony of small animals called zooids. It is one of the tunicates, because an external covering or "tunic" encloses the zooids. This glob a 3 inches wide and was found on South Lido beach.

Great Florida Beach Walk

... visited North Longboat Key on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Green Heron

The Green Heron, about 18 inches tall, lives near mangroves, marshes and streams. This bird has a harsh voice. The breeding male has bright orange legs. Otherwise, the legs are yellow.

Elmer's Island welcomes coastal restoration volunteers for the first time since oil spill
- New Orleans News

A Day on the Bay:: Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center at New College of Florida
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dead Coral Found Near Site of Gulf Oil Spill
- New York Times

Mottled Sea Hare

This 5" long sea hare was on the beach at City Island. A gastropod/mollusk, it has a small interior shell and normally lives in sea grass in shallow waters.

Look closely to see the button eyes on the right above and left below.
The sea hare's "horns" can barely be made out below on the left.
(Double click on photos to enlarge.)

SCCF launches fundraising campaign honoring island's past, protecting future
- Sanibel-Captiva Islander

How do you head off a Gulf loss yet unseen
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Little blue heron

This little blue heron is in his "suspicious pose".
He is about to fly because he knows that he is being watched.
About 2 feet high, the little blue is found near both fresh and salt water.
This particular bird lives near a small lake and feeds on pond snails.

$4 million beach project questioned
- Longboat Key Observer

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Unknown Crab

This creature was photographed on the wooden decks of City Island's
mangrove trails. It is about 1 inch long.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shifting sands on South Lido . . .

. . . at Big Pass make a delightful place to walk.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Double-crested Cormorant

This water bird has a hooked bill which is angled upward when swimming. Wings are often spread to dry when resting. The cormorant is sometimes confused with the anhinga or "snake bird" which often swims with just neck and head out of water. The anhinga does not have a hooked bill.