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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Study finds 4,840 sea cows
- Daytona Beach News Journal

PBS "American Experience" Program to Focus on Greely Expedition -- Tonight at 9 PM in NY Metro Area

Because so many of you told us how much you enjoyed Phyllis Marsteller's recent article on this expedition, we thought you would like to know about this program.

In and around New York City, PBS will air "Greely Expedition" in its "American Experience" series at 9 p.m. on Monday, January 31st - tonight. Broadcast dates and times could be different in other areas. Check your local listings or

The latest issue of Underwater Naturalist includes an article about one of the men who traveled to the High Arctic with Greely. The title of the article, "William H.Whistler, IPY 1882-1883," refers to the first International Polar Year, the first time that the United States participated in a cooperative international scientific research program. Written by ALS member Phyllis Marsteller, a distant relative of Whistler, the article provides a brief review of the expedition, including its last few months on Pim Island, where most of the participants starved to death and at least six were cannibalized.

-- Eileen Kennedy, American Littoral Society

February Kayak Trips

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.

Feb 1 Myakka State Park 9am - 12 noon
* Feb 3 Waterways of Nokomis 10am - 1pm
* Feb 5 Little Sarasota Bay / Palmer Pt Park 10am -1pm
* Feb 9 Little Manatee River 10am-2pm
$30mem-$35non mem
* Feb 12 Cockroach Bay State Park 10am-2pm $30mem - $35 nonmem
* Feb 15 Apollo Beach/Kitchen Preserve see Jan 27 above
* Feb 17 Bird Key/South Lido Park 10am- 1pm
* Feb 24 Little Sarasota Bay/Palmer Pt Park 1pm-4pm
Feb 26 Myakka State Park 9am - 12 noon

Favorable weather leads to high manatee count in Florida
- Naples News

Golder Silk Spider

The golden silk spider is one of the golden orb weavers.
Its body is about one inch long with long black and yellow legs.
Common in mangroves, the bite is painful, but not life-threatening.

(Note: The female, as shown here, can grow to over 3 inches long. The male is much smaller and I haven't been able to take a good photo.)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baby and Mama Racoon

On the Bay side of Sarasota's South Lido,
there is a preserve with mangroves and salt water ponds and streams.
There are pleasant paths for exercise and exploration.

Here, you are liable to see various wading birds
and even a raccoon or two.

Mama Raccoon is teaching her baby how to dig for food
in the shallow salt marsh water.

Baby plays close attention and always sticks close to Mama's side.

Too much at stake, don't gamble with our coasts
- Environment America

Living Sanibel: Alligator Creek Preserve and Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center
- Sanibel Captiva Islander

Friday, January 28, 2011

Red Mangroves

Prop roots are characteristic of this mangrove
which lives closest to the water and, in the shallow water.

A black crowned night heron looking for crabs and other delicacies.

Marco Island:Two eaglets, born to nesting bald eagles, live at Tract K
- Naples News

Marco Island residents hear mangrove restoration plan
- Naples News

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mid Lido Jetty

This pile of rocks just south of the public beach at mid-Lido Key looked like a good way to prevent erosion at one time.
However, there has been quite a bit of erosion on the south side as the currents sweep down from the north. The sand has eroded away on the south side leaving a 3-foot "cliff" on the beach.

State may change status for species
- Anna Maria Islander

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nesting or Resting?

This black skimmer has to be resting. Nesting season on South Lido doesn't begin for another month.
Now is the time for congregating and enjoying the beach.

Phillipi Creek Park

Phillipi Creek Park in SE Sarasota had docks for viewing or fishing...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Recovery of dolphin calf at Mote Marine
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Phillipi Creek - Oysters

Oyster bars are growing in Phillipi Creek. They seem to be attracted to kayak launching areas and can really scratch up kayak bottoms. Watch out!
However, oyster bars are a sign of healthy waters.

Phillipi Creek Watershed

Phillip Creek Watershed into Sarasota Bay is shown in these photos. The Bay is at the top of the photos. Phillipi Creek Park is on the Tamiami Trail in South Sarasota.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bald Eagle

Our glorious national bird, the bald eagle, is sometimes seen along SE shorelines.
It is larger than our more common osprey. The solid white head and tail also distinguish the eagle from the osprey. Eagles mainly eat fish, both salt and fresh water. Fishing skills are displayed in the lower photo here.
Thanks to Barb Work from Illinois for the photos.

Galaxaura obstusata

Above is a red alga common in shallow waters, usually attached. Galaxaura obstusata can grow to 4-5 inches.
Photo by Dave Bulloch

What's blooming in Paradise
- Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Shell Museum debuts exhibit of world record-holders
- Sanibel-Captiva Islander


Thanks to Lou Newman for the photos

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

U. S. S. Stonewall

"Stonewall was a Southern pilot boat captured by Union screw gunboat Tahoma on, or sometime shortly before, 24 February 1863. She was placed in service as a tender to Tahoma pending legal proceedings against her at Key West, Florida. She was condemned there and formally purchased by the Navy from the Key West prize court on 24 July 1863."

"She operated between Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor, Florida, for over one and one-half years, serving as a ship’s tender for the various Union warships assigned in turn to Tampa Bay. The highlight of her career came on 24 January 1864 when she captured Southern sloop Josephine of Tampa, Florida, bound for Havana, Cuba, with seven bales of cotton."

"In October 1864, Stonewall was transferred to blockade duty, still as a tender, between St. Marks and Cedar Keys, Florida, and she served in that area through the end of the Civil War."

"She was inactivated late in May 1865 and was sold at auction at Key West on 28 June 1865 to I. Silvery." --

Notes: Stonewall was one of the schooners landing soldiers off Anclote Key for the Raid on Brooksville.

U.S.S. Stonewall also raided the Gamble Plantation Sugar Mill on the Manatee River. She then carried soldiers to raid Whitaker's house on Sarasota Bay in search for an escaping Confederate dignitary. The sailors had heard rumors of Jeff Davis escaping down through Florida. In reality, this was Judah P. Benjamin, former Secretary War and first Attorney General of the Confederacy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sarasota: Civil War Maritime History

If you are from Sarasota or Manatee County, you've heard the story about Union soldiers destroying the Gamble Plantation Sugar Mill on the Manatee River. However, you probably don't know the name of the Union Ship involved in the deed.

Think about it for a day or two and watch for the answer on this Blog.
If you know, email

(For other area history, click on "Florida Shoreline History" under Topics in the right column of this page.)

Bay Life Search Cancelled for January and February

Jan 22 Bird Key- cancelled
Feb 19 Quickpoint.- cancelled

Sarasota Seagrass Survey

Double-click image to enlarge

Glossy Ibis

When on land, this bird appears all black. (See additional photos in earlier posts.)
Photo by Lou Newman

'Tides, Winds & Currents' talk coming to SCCF
- Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Monday, January 17, 2011

Female Stone Crab

Even upside down, the black tipped claws help identify a stone crab.

Along the underside of the crab is an abdominal flap that is meant to be torn off for eating. Look at the design of the flap. If it is shaped like a dome (Jefferson Memorial), then the crab is female. If the flap, however, is shaped in a thin point (Washington Monument) then the crab is male. This is the easiest and most fool-proof way to accurately identify a crab's sex across all crab varieties.

The crabber may take one claw only and must return live crabs to the water.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sarasota Bay Watch January Meeting

Sarasota Bay Watch has lots of great new projects and activities on the drawing board, and we are particularly excited about our recent grant awards to hire a new Executive Director through the Community Foundation of Sarasota County Boost Initiative Fund and the Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation!

JOIN US! Everyone is invited to attend our monthly membership meetings every third Tuesday of the month. It's an informal gathering where we dream up and plan new activities to help improve the health of the bay.

Tuesday January 18, 6 to 8 PM
Gulf Gate Library - Conference Room
7112 Curtiss Ave., Sarasota, FL 34231


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bird Key Park: Looking Good...

Construction on Bird Key Park off Ringling Causeway in Sarasota appears to be almost complete.
The west end is still not open to cars, but parking places on grass will be available both east and west of the entrance.
There are several ramps which lead down to the water for waders. Look for the big round concrete balls.
Future Parking
Elsewhere, concrete blocks with holes in the middle lead down to the water making walking to the shoreline difficult.

Bay Life Search - Jan & Feb trips cancelled

Explore the sea life near our shores with American Littoral Society biologists. Using hand and seine nets, we will be searching shallow waters and sea grass beds, observing, collecting, and discussing the natural history of some of the many interesting fishes and other animals that inhabit Sarasota Bay. Call for reservations. Call Bruce Dayton at (941) 493-5087. Saturdays (see list for dates) from 9:30-11:30 am. Wading shoes suggested.

Jan 22 Bird Key- cancelled
Feb 19 Quickpoint.- cancelled

March 19 Blackburn Point - call in March for Status
Apr 23 Lemon Bay

2011 to bring sand to Coquina Beach
- Anna Maria Islander

Islanders express concerns over sudden rapid infill of Blind Pass
- Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Manatee Viewing Center: 25 years of tails and snouts
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Friday, January 14, 2011


Mother Nature is a Mathematician.
Here are her sine waves:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Glimpse into work to restore preserve
- Sarasota Herald Tribune


This willet, about 1 foot tall and in winter colors, looks drab. In flight, it will show a striking wing pattern in black, white, and brown. Sandpipers are relatives.

Worm shells?

We're not ready to make an identification, today. Probably animal, this 4" mass was found on South Siesta Beach.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sarasota Bay Learning Experiences

Have a hands on learning experience about the critters of the Bay and views of nesting bird life on board the Carefree Learner leave from Bayfront Park . The Carefree Learner is docked next to Le Barge, near the Ringling circle.

All trips are on Tuesdays, from 1 to 3 pm.
Members $12, non-members $18

Make reservations early. For reservations on charters from Jan.25 to Mar.1, call Joan at (941) 378-4670. For charters from Mar.15 to May 3, call Bobby at (941) 927-3409.

Greater Yellowlegs

Here's another great photo contributed by Lou Newman.
When it's cool and windy along the coast, go to Sarasota's Celery Fields to find a lot of sometime shore birds.
The adult Greater Yellowlegs averages about a foot long, has long yellow legs and a long, thin, dark bill which has a slight upward curve and is longer in length than the head. These birds breed way up north in Canada and Alaska, but like our human "snowbirds", come south for the winter.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Fish Hawk"

Lou Newman's Osprey
carrying fish

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Line grooves on shells

Polychaete worms leave snaking groove marks. The worms rasp away with their bristled bodies. They also etch with secreted acids.

Record breaking year for manatee deaths in Florida
- Naples News

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Glossy Ibis

Have you ever seen one of these? This flock was photographed at Sarasota's Celery Fields.
The Glossy Ibis uses a wide variety of inland wetland habitats, and to a lesser extent coastal lagoons and estuaries. Individuals that nest in coastal habitats often forage inland in fresh water. They are gregarious year-round and nest colonially, usually with a variety of heron species. The species is semi-nomadic and often disperses widely after breeding.Above, are glossy ibis and white ibis. They are about the same size. The white ibis here are closer to the camera.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Turtles, tortoises and terrapins among 15 species found on island
- Captiva Saniber Islander

Bayou Lafourche the longest Main Street in the world
- Huoma Today

Commonn egrets faring uncommonly well
- Houma Today

Pen Shells

Large pen shells are common on Sarasota's beaches. They are often broken when they wash up and covered by barnacles or algae.
Pen shells average 8” in length and live in soft, sandy mud with their narrow tips downward. A small foot spins clumps of tough threads that keep it attached to buried stones and broken shells.
The silky threads are called "byssus".
Look closely at the wide end of the shell. The short, prickly spines on the wide end characterize "rigid" pen shells.