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, February 28, 2011

Scientist monitors waters of Venice and Turtle beaches
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Beach project begins next month
- Longboat Key Observer

Van Wezel Shoreline on Sarasota Bay

Rocks form a partial dam of the stream to the south of Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Sarasota Bay. This may prevent shoreline erosion.
Van Wezel shoreline sculpture
Boulders have been piled up recently on Van Wezel's shoreline.

Looking south from Van Wezel, one can see the John Ringling Causeway bridge.
Again, boulders have been recently placed to prevent erosion.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

GWIZ Osprey

Every year, this osprey (or its relative) nests on the bay side of GWIZ near downtown Sarasota.
Also known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, the osprey is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It grows to 2 feet long with a 5-6 foot wingspan.

Favorite Spot on S. Lido at Big Pass

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dog Park

A special beach for dogs lies north of Caspersen Beach and south of the Venice Pier at Sharkey's Restaurant. Lots, and lots, and lots of well-behaved dogs...........

Get a (Green) Life at Estuary Academy

NEWS RELEASE: CONTACT: Nanette O’Hara (727) 893-2765

“Greening Your Life” will be the topic of the 2011 “Estuary Academy” sponsored by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. The day of informative workshops and interactive learning will be held Saturday, March 26, from 9 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at the Weedon Island Preserve Natural and Cultural History Center in St. Petersburg.

This year’s Academy will present short seminars and hands-on workshops focusing on ways to create a green lifestyle, from home and gardening tips to energy efficiency. Gardeners will want to attend sessions from instructors with the Pinellas County Extension Service on Composting and Vermiculture, Designing Your Florida Yard, Green Living and Rain Harvesting. Green Ways to Outwit and Evict Wildlife will be helpful to homeowners with uninvited guests, while an Energy Efficiency session will focus on the many ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s 20th Anniversary photo exhibit, “Tampa Bay: 20/20,” will be on display during the Estuary Academy and a short presentation “Twenty Years in Twenty Minutes” will give a brief overview of progress in restoring Tampa Bay.

Registration is only $10, including lunch, and is limited to 100 adults and kids older than 12. Pre-registration is required and must be completed online at

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Moon Snail Egg Case: Queen Anne's Crown

Moon snail egg cases, commonly called sand collars, appear to be thin pieces of rubber in the shape of a round collar. They are composed of snail eggs sandwiched between layers of mucus coated with sand. About half way through the summer, the eggs hatch and the collars fall apart. The free swimming snail larvae become part of the zooplankton in the ocean until they are ready to settle down and transform into little moon snails.
-- Photo by Rita Rollins

Sea Robin

Many species of sea robins use the large pectoral fins to stir up the bottom and to "walk" between brief swimming intervals.
-- Photo: Rita Rollins

Beach renourishment in jeopardy
- Anna Maria Islander

Friday, February 18, 2011

Brittle star mystery

This brittle star photo was taken on a Carefree Learner boat trip in Sarasota Bay. The question is, "What is the 5-lobed, red mass in the center of the brittle star?"
One guess is that it is an egg mass, but corroboration hasn't been found yet in our web searches.
Photo by Rita Rollins

Bad racoon at Big Pass

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thousands of sharks swarm beach

ACTION ALERT from American LIttoral Society

Tell your members of congress to oppose cuts to land and water conservation funding for our nation's most treasured resources!

The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR/spending bill) that will eliminate the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 as a funding source to help protect public recreation lands for the health of all Americans. It accumulates $900 million annually through revenues from offshore oil and gas leases and is the principal source of funding for recreational land acquisition by federal agencies like the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service.

This amendment would:
* eliminate the LWCF program that has existed for 45 years, which is already fully funding by oil drilling leases, not taxpayer dollars

* bring an immediate halt to federal conservation efforts that protect national wildlife refuges, parks and forests; historic sites; and state and local recreation projects

* prevent revenues deposited in the LWCF account from being used for their authorized purposes, and makes them disappear forever. These funds were a promise made to the American people in 1964. This Congress should not be breaking this long-standing commitment

What you can do
Contact your members of Congress immediately and tell them to vote against amendments that would impose cuts to or eliminate LWCF. To find your representative, go to

For more information, please contact Jessica Daher at 856-825-2174 or

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

State of the Island Report....
- Pensacola News Journal

Work shops plan for coast's long term viability
- Huoma Today

Littoral Society Tour on Carefree Learner

Tour Leader, Marine Biology Teacher Judd and Captain drop a trawl net into the bay to catch various marine animals.

Eager ALS members and guests sort the catch of the day and place it in fish tanks.
Below is a burrfish.
Flounder, burrfish, cowfish, brittle stars, stone crabs, red sponges, and seahorses were among the catches of the day.

The tour continues into the back bays of Siesta Key.
Mangrove trees have been manicured into hedges.
A brief stop at Big Edwards Island is included.
Bird Islands in the bay are protected by huge boulders.
Perhaps, someday, the small islands will merge into one large island.
Waiting for unwatched eggs and unwatched chicks....
Thanks to all for a great trip.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sarasota’s unique floating classroom

The Carefree Learner crosses Sarasota Bay near Ringling Causeway with a boatload of school kids aboard She has been in continuous operation for 32 years and started out as an old wooden barge.
Off Marina Jack's and Island Park at Ringling Blvd. and the bayshore.
Island Park Fountain

Charting sea grass growth in the bay
- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fish Schooling

"It takes at least three fish to form a school. When formed, its members match and maintain speed and direction, and keep a preferred minimum distance from each other. They set that distance using their visual and pressure (lateral line) sense about equally. When schooling casually, the distance between fishes increases. They move slowly and meander. When a predator approaches the school aligns, tightens up, and usually increases swimming speed.

Half the 40,000 or so known species of fish, mostly small, school at least part of their lives. The survival value of schooling is at least two-fold. One: the probability of detection of groups is less, on a "per fish" basis, than that of scattered individuals. Two: the sensory confusion presented to the predator by the movements of the school far exceeds that of an individual fish.

Two Primary schooling tactics are used to evade a predator.

If the predator approaches slowly the school will open and form a surrounding pocket. The fish in the lead will swim outward and then rearward behind the predator which will quickly find the school entirely behind it. If the predator reverses direction, the school also turns and repeats the process.

If the predator strikes quickly, the school expands explosively outward from the intended point of impact, each fish accelerates to a speed of 10-20 body lengths per second in less than 1/50th of a seconc. It's all done by a single flick of the tail.

For more on schooling, read Brian Partridge's article "The Structure and Function of Fish Schools" in the June 1982 issue of "Scientific American".
- "The American Littoral Society Marine Naturalist"
by David K. Bulloch

Bay Life Searches

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.

April 23 Lemon Bay
May 21 Quick Point
June-Sept. No Searches
Oct. 22 Bird Bay

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Battle at Nokomis North Jetty Park

While John Sarkozy and friends were busy planting native plants, this cardinal was busy fighting with his own image in a car mirror. Here, he is considering another attack. Neither cardinal nor mirror won.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nokomis: North Jetty

The shell pile at North Jetty is fun to look through for unusual specimens.

"The accumulations of shells at Nokomis Beach are provided and shaped by the waves, tides, currents, and winds of the Gulf. Beach raking machines are rarely, if ever, used.

Here's why... there is an accumulation of sand, shells, and other "stuff" on that stretch of beach. Tidal currents along Sarasota's coastline move primarily in a north to south direction. The jetties at Venice Inlet slow the near shore currents and lots of materials suspended in the water settle out and wash up onto the beach.

The amazing thing about this process is that it is so unpredictable. The shoreline changes continually, seasonally, monthly, even daily. One day shelling is great, onanother day the beach debris can be few and far between."
-- Bud Doyle

The ruddy turnstone, wintering here in Florida, is sorting through the shell pile for leftover morsels. It nests on islands in the Canadian Arctic. Other "snow birds" (seen below) gather on the pier to fish and walk and socialize.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sand Perch

This sand perch was caught on the bay side of Nokomis' North Jetties Park. It was about 1 foot long. The fish prefer bays, sea-grass beds, reefs, shallow banks, and coarse sand bottoms.
Of particular interest in this fish are its TEETH.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Red Brittlestar

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 : Carefree Learner...
"Finding the Red Brittlestar hidden in a sponge was a real thrill."
-- Joan Hamill

Dave's Book

Here's one of Dave's books. There are still a few left on Amazon.
(I wonder if the diver on the cover is Dave.)
There are several other books on Amazon authored or co-authored by David K. Bulloch.
Does anyone know if they were all written by our Dave?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

David Bulloch

Our Southeast American Littoral Society Director, David Bulloch, passed away this weekend at Doctor's Hospital in Sarasota. The cause of death was renal failure and complications.

We love him and we will miss him.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.
"A founding member of the Society, Dave Bulloch has directed the Southeast Chapter from Sarasota Florida since 1998. He is a retired chemist and vice president of R&D for a firm long since swallowed up by mergers. Dave’s life-long interest in the sea and its marine life led to his long-standing involvement with the American Littoral Society. A former president of the Society, Dave founded the Southeast Chapter when he moved to Sarasota and has grown it to 500 members from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana. He has written extensively on the marine environment and authored five books. His current focus is on plankton. His interest in the sea reaches beyond the scientific--he has been a six-pack boat operator, a dive instructor and an underwater photographer." -- American Littoral Society

Rattlesnake Island

Rattlesnake Island is east across the Inland Waterway from Nokomis' North Jetties Park. It looks like an inviting place to visit with picnic tables and sandy landing area for kayaks and small boats.

Last January, John Sarkozy and Littoral Society volunteers showed up on Rattlesnake Island with ~250 plants . Lynda Eppinger, Parks Naturalist, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, and a number of volunteers also came out to work. They made great improvements on the island which we can now enjoy.

Water quality at region's estuaries receive poor grades
- Naples News

Gulf of Mexico cold snap kills dozens of starfish in Florida
- Naples News

Estero Bay Park Aquatic Preserve on list of possible closings
- Naples News

Anhinga Drying Wings

The photo in the earlier post is a close-up of the anhinga's tail feathers. The photo above was taken at the Venice-Nokomis Jetty after the bird emerged from underwater fishing. Wings spread out, feathers erect, the bird must dry out before more swimming.

Friday, February 4, 2011

What's THIS ?

Native Planting Day at North Jetties Park with John Sarkozy

Sea Grape
Cedar, Wild Lime, Myrsine, Pine, White Stopper, Coral Bean, Marlberry, Saw Palmetto, Live Oaks, Beauty Berry, Muhly Grass, Sea Oxeye, White Indigo, Green Buttonwood, Sea Grape, and Gumbo Limbo,
and Southeast American Littoral Society members:
Peg Conklin, John Sarkozy, Nash and Sheila McHugh.

If you’d like to help with our nursery or planting projects or need directions to the Preserve call John Sarkozy at (941) 966-7308