Category Archives: Sea life

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Sharks Along the Coast of Florida and Why We Don’t Care

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Shark (photo: derwerbepool @ Pixabay)

You may have heard the recent story of a half eaten shark washing ashore on New Smyrna Beach, in Florida. This is where I live, and it’s the beach I visit most often.  Usually shark stories involve people being bitten, but this time the shark got chomped, presumably by a much larger shark. And he did not live to brag about his shark bite scars!

The story was out there to read on many sites. Some made a big deal out of it, and others (mostly Florida based) did not.  That is wildlife for you.  The bigger stuff eats the smaller stuff.  This time the smaller stuff was a five-foot shark.

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-10-11-04-amI have a friend who finds it difficult to believe I will go swimming at Florida beaches. (He lives in Michigan) He’s read all the stats about Florida having the most unprovoked shark attacks, and (incorrectly) believes anyone who ventures into the ocean, or any water, in and around Florida will be putting themselves in danger.

Florida is full of creepy stuff. Animals AND people make up that category. We live among alligators, poisonous snakes, and big nasty spiders, and yes, predatory ocean life. But, just like the land creatures don’t keep us out of our yards, the sea creatures don’t keep us from swimming, surfing, and waterskiing.

We have to be careful and observant. Sharks can be found close to the coast all around Florida, but the bites tend to happen in certain spots more than others. The jetty, where the waves break, attracts surfers, and surfers tend to be the ones who get bit.
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I have been lazing about in the warm ocean water just offshore only to see a large fish silhouetted in a wave.  It’s pretty cool really. Or suddenly we spot a fin only a few yards away… is it a shark fin? We are not sure, so we hightail it out of the water. But we can’t stay out.  And that fin may have been a dolphin or some other non life-threatening fish.  We splash back in, our fears forgotten.

The weather is too hot to NOT go swimming. The water is too beautiful and warm to NOT enjoy it. The beauty and wonder overtakes the fear. So we swim and don’t worry about what might be out there swimming around near us. For the most part we are left alone and get back home unscathed, except for the sunburn where we missed with the sunscreen.

As I float in the unbelievably warm ocean, and feel the waves roll me up and down, it is my own little paradise.  No negative thoughts allowed, and that includes sharks!

I can only pity my friend who does not know what he is missing.

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A New Love

(All photos on this page came from the free, public domain site, Pixabay)

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Beach Glass, Seashells and Sea Creatures in Photos

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am still getting settled in my new place, but soon I will be out on the beach and boat finding new things to share on my blog.
For now, enjoy these photos from the public domain. Find them all at the Pixabay site. Each one has a link to the photographer who shared them.

green beach glass
Credit: Wokandapix

Learn about sea glass so you’ll know which colors are most rare and how some people sell it as real, but it’s been hand tumbled.

purple beach glass
Credit: Halfpintohoney
baby at beach big seashell
Credit: Pixabay

What kind of seashell is this next to the baby? My guess is a Queen Helmet (Cassis madagascariensis), as they can be as big as 12 inches.

squid sea life
Credit: Marcel

Manatees Playing at Haulover Boat Ramp

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Manatees at Haulover Canal

Nick and I took a ride over to the Mims and Titusville area the other day and one place we stopped was the Haulover Canal boat ramp. It’s a much smaller place than I thought, with only one ramp, but a nice trailer parking area. We walked out on the metal dock and that is where we watched the manatees play.

It was hot so we didn’t stay long, but the small bay area, where the boats launch and dock, was full of manatees. The water is brown and murky (brackish) but the manatees could be seen breaking the surface, splashing and rolling around. I got a short 30 second video – it was too bright for me to easily see what I was filming.  It was also really hot – did I say that?

The boats go very slow in this little bay, so the manatees just move out of the way when they hear the motors. We drove over the bridge and went to the eastern side of the canal where there is a “Manatee Watching Deck” and didn’t see any manatees there. The boat dock was the best place to see them. (The observation area had port-o-potties, fyi.)

The Haulover Canal is a channel for boats to go between the Indian River, on the west, and Mosquito Lagoon, to the east. Both are wide open bodies of water. The canal is part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. On the opposite side from the boat launching area is a long dirt road. We traveled down to the end and saw cars stopped and little camps set up where people were fishing along the canal. At the end was an area to put in canoes and kayaks. This is the view from the end of that road which looks out into the Indian River lagoon, which is a huge area.

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Indian River Lagoon

This is an aerial view of the area we visited. Click the picture below which takes you to the public boat ramp page.

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Aerial view of this area – click to view the page at Florida Fish and Wildlife public boat ramp finder

I can’t wait to have a boat so we can check out this area from the water!

Beach-combing Again in Florida

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Sea Treasures

As a celebration of my moving back to Florida recently, we went to the beach yesterday! How sweet is was to float in the warm ocean water again. And of course I had to search for seashells. The central east coast is not known for it’s abundance of seashells, but I did find a few to take home with me.

After the move, from the northeast to the south, most of my things are in storage – including my old seashell collection. That means I have to begin a new one! So here I go – beginning with a piece of a large sand dollar and a shiny Sawtooth pen shell.

I also found many arks, which are able to survive the rough surf because of their thick shells. In fact I think the ark is the most often found bivalve on the east coast beach I visit. Everything I found yesterday was a bivalve (shells with two halves), with the exception of the piece of sand dollar.

Now that I am able to go out and collect seashells much more frequently, I will study them closer and try to determine exactly what I have. Many types of shells look very similar, yet have different names.

Today I learned that the Incongruous ark (Anadara brasiliana) can be recognized by the dashes that appear across each section of their ribs.

Incongruous ark shells
Incongruous ark shells

As you can see (hopefully) in my photo above, the ribs running along the shell are not smooth, but bumpy.

To identify seashells, sometimes a close inspection is needed. At first glance, most of the shells I found looked all the same. A good identification book will show pictures from the top and bottom of the shell and give a description about how to tell shells apart.

It helps to know seashell identification terminology too. Words like “umbo”, “teeth”, “apex” and other anatomy of a mollusk.

By the way, I managed to find a couple of Common jingle shells yesterday also! That was exciting.

Pictures of Sea Urchins

Sea urchins are some of the coolest creatures living in the sea. They have long spikes that help them navigate under water, but we usually see them spike-less.
The Pixabay site has some new, awesome sea urchin photos which I will share here.
Remember that these are free images, which have been added to the public domain, and you can find more like them at Pixabay.com.

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Sea Urchin Pile Up
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Purple sea urchin and coral
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Living Sea Urchin
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Sea Urchin Photography