Thanks to those of you who contributed
to the Jones Dozen Florida Vacation. You will find information on
the Facebook Page "Jones Dozen Florida Vacation. They will be
here June 8th so not much more time left to get to get it all together.
We have a full agenda of things to do each day. We do still
need a few things in the food department. We need about 3 large
pizzas donated for the night we baby sit the younger family members so
mom and dad can have an evening out.
A lot of time has now passed,
will digress to back in February to the Sea Turtle Training I attended
in Boca Raton, Florida. The picture file got in the wrong slot
and got totally overlooked, but there was so much valuable information
at that training which I wanted to share. However, before I get
into that I wanted
to hit on a topic I don't say much about anymore, our squirrels.
This little one, I am pretty sure, is our little Peanut fellow, our
last squirrel, which
we lost touch with too soon. He is redder than the others, which
was one of our
little guys characteristics. He is not as fearful of us as is
normal for new squirrels in the backyard squirrel herd. He is
around most days now and comes to the back door to eat, growling at
any other squirrel who dares to invade his space or even gets close to
it. A pretty feisty little fellow and seems to be able to hold
his own with any of the larger ones.
Bruce says I need to find another sunset place but this is just such a
good place and so handy to the gallery. This time though there is
an interesting addition to the water show. Between the Shrimp
boats and the Sun is another structure upon what appears to be stilts out in the water.
It is an unusual vehicle for hunting for treasures at sea.
This big fellow, a Ring Billed Gull, was sharing the dock with me. The structure has a
concrete flooring even though it is a floating dock, rising and falling
with the tide on great concrete pilings which anchor it in place.
The dock surface is a great shell cracking place for the clams
and other shellfish the gulls find in the shallows behind it. They
drop the live shells from above while flying over it, then go down to
recover their taste treats. This particular gull is known for taking advantage of others work and eating their scraps.
A better view of the treasure hunting vehicle. I have been
promised a tour of it sometime in the near future as it will be here
for a while as they search for a sunken ship just off the coast of our
island supposedly laden with treasure.
What party meeting does not have the guest of honor in its presence.
A beautiful lady she is too, how do I know it is a lady you ask?
We are there studying about laying and hatching which is
basically woman's work in turtledom, as one of my t-shirts states, "turtle girls rule". Luna is her name.
I like posing with Luna because she makes me look smaller.
Two very important images at this meeting: the bag with the Sea
Turtle license tag from which all the money from sales goes into Sea Turtle work,
especially this year, working with lighting problems on the beach.
The T-shirt which features the art work that was used depicting
the theme, Darker Beaches, Brighter Future for the Sea Turtles.
Another slogan is "Kill the lights, Save the turtles."
day full of classes and reports on how the License tag money was used
last year. A report of the stats from last year showed most all
the sea turtle species improving with a bumper year of Green Turtles
hatching. Next morning bright and early we visited the Gumbo
Limbo Nature Center where they have multiple displays on Sea Life, a
real rehab center for Sea Turtles, and a scientific study area for work
with marine critters. This fellow is a permanent resident because
its injuries with a cracked carapace and spinal injuries will not allow
the turtle to survive in the wild. It has weights glued on to
assist in allowing it to dive for its food as its air bladder was also
affected. It had already had its first Sea Turtle nests.
In South Florida their Sea Turtle season begins Mar1, and here a
week prior they already have their first Leatherback nest, usually
pool around which we had a nice brunch served by the volunteers at the
center allowed us to peer down into a large tank with all kinds of Rays
and other native to the area's sea life.
An artificial reef looked like an abstract painting with its colorful forms underneath the water.
this is South Florida, you have a Mangrove type environment, and it is
being replicated in the new addition to the Center. This is an
empty shell of what was a huge Lobster of the variety found in tropical
waters. No claws to crack on these fellows but are prized for their tasty tails.
young Loggerhead juvie swam in around the pool next to the Mangrove
area. It is seldom that we get to see the Loggerheads at this
You can see the spiky like carapace and even the edge scutes are
sharp and pointy. These are all defense systems for the younger
Loggerheads and eventually these will flatten and round out as the
ages and grows to a size better able to defend itself in other ways.
A Loggerhead with those massive jaws will even fend off a shark
if need be.
The more tropical fish are very beautiful with more color and pattern than what we normally have this far north.
two seem to be having a staring contest. The Barracudas are
attracted to shiny objects so maybe it saw something glittering out
there. We were warned way back when I was scuba diving about that, and also to not
have our fingers flayed out and obvious to the big guy because they have very
sharp teeth and are very fast.
got to witness first hand the treatment of this large Sea Turtle as the
water was drained out of the tank to allow the workers to administer an
injection of antibiotics to this big turtle.
for the smaller scale patient, one of last summer's hatchlings, had a flipper almost
detached when it was found. The flipper was reattached and it
seems to be healing with the aid of this treatment. What they are
pouring on this little fellows wound is honey, straight from Pooh's
honey jar. Honey is found to be a great healer of the Sea
Turtles, and the recovery rate is much faster with it.
the honey was poured onto the wound the caretaker had to keep the turtle out of
the water for a full 10 minutes to let the honey do its job. When
it got rowdy and started to struggle to free itself, the lady would
gently rub the top of its head with her thumb and like magic the turtle
would relax and become docile once again. I bet RN's at the
hospital would like to have a trick like that for their patients.
another tanks was a young Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a species of turtle
which has run into survival problems because of its beautiful shell.
If you have heard of tortoise shell products like combs, mirrors,
brushes, hair clasps, eye glass frames, etc. then this is the shells
which were used. This is also the reason that these products are
now banned in most places. Another Sea Turtle which is so rare
that I have only seen one in the wild and it was dead.
This fellow was one of the more rare Sea Turtles also, a Kemps Ridley, with
its very round shell. This turtle was found with a large hook in
its innards. Thankfully it was rescued and the hook removed.
is the very large hook that was removed. That is why we always
fish with hooks that quickly rust. You may think that strange in
the salt water we have, but it is much safer if you hook a fish that is
smaller than the limit or a Sea Turtle. You want to let it go but the hook has
been swallowed and to remove it would kill the fish. Sometimes it
is just better to cut the line as close to the hook as possible and
leave it in and allow it to rust out in a short time, hopefully leaving
the fish healthy to return to normal.
nature center had a nice display of things that harm turtles as in
these balloons as well as fishing tackle. Balloons are especially
lethal because a turtle will swallow it thinking it is a Jelly, one of their favorite foods.
Once inside it can block their ability to swallow, absorb
nutrients, or block their intestines. In doing narcopsies of small sea turtles should be
safely out in the sargassum sea they are finding a 100% of them have bits
of plastic in their stomachs and intestines. Why? Because
even when plastic biodegrades it breaks up into smaller pieces but these pieces
are still out there and floating around. These little guys eat
anything they see without being able to distinguish between plastic and
a piece of seaweed or seahorse.
main cause death of the turtles I find on the beach is that they are
hit with these, boat propellers. It is possible that they are
sometimes hit after they died from some other cause.
is another reason that turtle numbers are increasing. In this not
so clear photo you can see how the turtle is allowed to escape while
the smaller shrimp can move on through. It was because of Sea
Turtle conservation which had its beginning about 27 years ago, the
data collected then, resulted in the development of the TED or Turtle
Device which allows Sea Turtles to escape through the opening instead
of becoming part of the catch and drowning. Some of the smaller
turtles still slip between the railings so research is now being done
in the development of a TED that will prevent that loss also.
I find dirty diapers on the beach all the time. It is nasty but also it takes 450 years for that diaper to decompose.
Aluminum cans are another environmental piece of garbage that litters our beaches and ocean bottoms.
one of the worst problems with sea turtles is that they also think
these are something to eat because floating in the water they also
resemble their favorite food source and swallowing something like this
can cause death by choking or blocking their digestive system.
line is such a hazard to everything in our watery environment from
birds to whales, and sea turtles. In most fishing areas you will
find a recycle bin into which you should place your excise line.
I have so many times seen birds
with pieces of this line wrapped around their legs, especially around
the ankles. Often they will survive but without a foot as the
cuts off the circulation causing the foot to die and fall off.
Just tonight I photographed a gull standing on one foot while
holding the footless leg up off the hard surface of the dock.
bottles are so easily recycled and take such a long time to break down.
Eventually the will return to what they started out as and
although everyone likes to find old pieces of beach glass, tossing a
bottle in the water is such a thoughtless act.
of the displays were very interesting and I wanted to bring them home
to our beach. Sculptures which gave interest and beauty to the
whole educational atmosphere.
this section we were exposed to some of the more scientific parts of
the purpose of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. This is a small
transmitter which can be attached to a Sea Turtle so that it can be
tracked and studied in its own environment. Very costly, which
is why they are not attached to more released Sea Turtles. Although
very valuable tools for learning more about Sea Turtles and expanding
our limited knowledge it is cost prohibitive to use them in most cases.
down onto the laboratory below us we can see some of this past summer's
hatchlings which were part of a study on the sex determination of the
turtles. The only way to tell at this age whether a turtle is
male or female is by a DNA test. These Sea Turtles were too small
for attaching a transmitter, even if they could have, it
would not have been permanent as they will eventually fall off.
What they did do was to equip them with a "Living Tag". To
make a Living Tag tiny pieces of the carapace is removed in a certain
unique to each turtle, then a small corresponding piece is removed
plastron, by swapping the pieces and implanting them on the
from which they were removed, an identifying mark, unique to
each turtle, is created. The underside now has a dark spot and
the reverse on the topside with a white spot. The placement
be identified just like a bar code. Very ingenious but also an
expensive task requiring medical care. You can see in the
ultraviolet light the
blue spots showing up, which are the transplanted grafts on the turtles
top side. They will soon be released back into the wild.
very informative butterfly garden was there for the observing also.
I am working on a painting which will have some of these
butterflies in it when I am finished.
this was a great display of sculptures which were realistically
depicting all the Sea Turtles of our oceans. I would love to see
them installed in a park here on Amelia Island.
only water we saw was from the top of a tower in the park which gave us
a birds eye view of the area behind us. I really wanted to see
the ocean down there but the traffic around the beach area was so much
more intense than ours that we just could not deal
with having to find a walkable parking spot. It was in reality very close proximity but the traffic made it seem far away. We are very spoiled up here.
was also a display and exhibit of Gopher Tortoises in which an
excellent visual display told of the importance of this "keystone"
species. Their habitat provides a place for so many other critters to
live which are endangered also. I did not see the endangered
Indigo Snake which also uses the burrows, but it is possible they do
not have Indigos that far South.
here they are, a group of Gopher Tortoises, enjoying a nice fresh salad with fruit for lunch.
Someone rang the dinner bell for these fellows at about the time
we were heading to our own lunch date with some old friends who live in
squirrels back home were very happy for us to get back, since with wild
animals you don't have to leave behind someone to feed when you take a
trip. I fear that this
little gal might just waste away, if she doesn't get her twice daily
food. This is not Lacy but one of our other (and heftiest gals),
which I call Tilly,
who likes to sit like this waiting for one of us to bring out the chow.
I think she is so funny when she does this. I know, they
One observation is that squirrels usually have
little ones in January and in mid summer. This year I have not
noticed any winter mothers in our crowd. I wondered if our
unusually cold winter made a difference. You can usually tell a
nursing mother, but have not seen that this winter. Maybe they
are too fat, like Tilly, to see the signs.