Monthly Archives: March 2015

Florida is in full bloom.

It’s getting to be far too hot and I am counting the days until we head north to escape the heat (32C) 89F yesterday with 100% humidity so the sweat just rolls off instead of evaporating and cooling. I will miss Florida when we leave, but not this heat. The locals are just now coming alive and have stopped complaining about the bitter cold of temperatures that require more than a T shirt. They haven’t started sweating yet either. They just laugh at me when I complain about the heat.

One thing that has just astounded me with the arrival of heat has been the way everything has suddenly decided it’s spring and now is the time to start blooming. There is so much that is green year around here in winter that I didn’t notice it’s drab for most the time we have been staying here. Now we have this positive riot of passionate colours that could teach the north a little about blooming. I took pictures of just the flowers on my two short blocks walk from our parking spot to the Marine Lab when I went to pick up the mail. Wow. I recognize fuchsia (pink) and wisteria (purple) but the rest are unknown to me. It’s just lovely.

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Mission Accomplished; I love my Truck!

One of the fun things about hanging about at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and being handy and available, is you just never really know what you might be asked to do. This day, it turns out their truck was in the shop and the boat was back from the shop, and they had specimen orders waiting to be filled. So Cypress Rudloe, who is Jack’s son, and their managing director, asked me if I could move the boat for him. I had already done this once before so I jumped at the chance to give the old Ford F150 pickup a chance to act like a real truck instead of a fancy fully equipped passenger vehicle with a funny trunk. Just in case the warranty people are checking up on me, I did make sure this boat and trailer were below the maximum specified weight in the manual. This whole boat going down the road is about an every third truck occurrence on this highway here. It seems like everyone has a boat.

This was all great fun for me. There was even one muddy mushy spot where I had to switch into four wheel drive to get out of the muck and move along. Oh how fun! Vroom Vroom goes my truck and I love my truck. I might just leave that mud on it for while, I am so proud of it. I have a working truck.

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St George Island

We enjoyed a quiet afternoon at St George Island. This lovely long stretch of stunning white sand is accessible via a long causeway/bridge. It has a lighthouse, miles of beach, a state park. The state park has a campground but it is always full and booked months in advance in the reservation system. There are a lot of beach houses, rental condos and many very large luxurious beach houses of the very wealthy that could pass for mansions in most places. There is also a great pizza place. Good pizza is hard to find in the south. The road from Panacea to St George follows the coast and there are multiple small antique and curio shops on the way. So we spent a day walking the beach, seeing the sights, shopping (we didn’t find anything this trip), and closed with pizza before driving home. No spectacular wildlife scenes but we did see dolphins beyond the breakers. SAM_4853SAM_4928SAM_4927SAM_4926SAM_4919SAM_4914 St George’s is a long thin sand bar with high dunes on one side and the road runs down the middle. We explored both sides of the road.

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Dick took his very first selfie but I don’t know it counts when you use a mirror. SAM_4872 SAM_4868SAM_4867SAM_4864SAM_4862SAM_4854

What a way to make a living!

We recently had the privilege to go out with the specimen boat and help with collecting. The job was to get jellyfish and to check crab traps. They were after decorator crabs, jellyfish and, as always, other stuff can be added to the touch tanks for the kids to see and/or kept in the aquaria in anticipation of an order. They waste nothing. If they can’t use it it is returned back to the sea. It was a COLD day to be out.

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Leaving the harbour.

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Combination GPS and Depth finder keeps track of where we are. That was really nice given we ended up in a fog bank and then out again by the end of the trip.

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Here Cypress has us move the boat along a “run” an area marked with foam and containing mixed water from the bay and ocean that tends to have collection of small organisms. This is also where jellyfish like to collect and eat the smaller creatures. It’s not easy to follow a run. It’s harder to scoop a jellyfish with the net as it drifts by.

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Success! We got jellyfish. The order meant we needed 30 for a scientist. Jellyfish are one of the few things they can’t keep in aquaria and so must hunt for fresh each time. The trick is pluck them from the ocean and get them to a courier within a few hours.

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All done with hunting jellyfish, we check the crab traps. Cypress makes it look easy to pull them up but it’s really hard work. I did one and that was enough. The crab traps are dumped out in the boat and then rebated and thrown back in. While that is going on everyone else has to run around grabbing all the crabs and other organisms that was making a run for it.

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This is a hermit crab with his own special sponge/anemone thingie on top for camouflage.

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Spider crabs. Oh we got lots of them and they are hard to catch and they pinch hard!

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These are the decorator crabs we were after. They are called that because the decorate themselves with bits of plants algae and such.

SAM_4737 SAM_4741  Hard work, I was getting cold and tired by this point.

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The gold stuff I am checking out is called sargassum and it is a floating weed where baby sea turtles leave after they feet off the shore. We also had a special bonus. We pulled up one crab trap and it was full of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab’s most popular sale item, Arbacia sea urchins used for emgyological experiments and scientific education. Normally these are collected by scuba divers so the spot was carefully marked for a future visit by the GSML scuba team.  Meanwhile, any we got from the crab were carefully collected.

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Home again and the specimens then have to be packed and sent off by courier later the same day to get to their destination of scientists all over the world. It’s hard cold dirty work but it sure bits the average cubicle job.

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