Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rip Currents This Week

There is a moderate risk of rip currents this week along Brevard's beaches. The National Weather Service office in Melbourne states that a ridge of high pressure will also bring breezy east winds that will make for rougher-than-normal surf conditions. Weak swimmers should not wade far into the surf because of the breaking waves, the report advised.
Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. According to the NOAA rip current website, rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.
The NOAA ripcurrent website notes that June 1 - 7 is Awareness Week, with a spirit line of Break the Grip of the Rip!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sebastian Inlet State Park

Wayne and his wife, Julie, visited Sebastian Inlet State Park yesterday, and Wayne shared these photos with us. The park is located in the far south end of Brevard county and has three miles of beaches for surfing, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, shelling and sunbathing. Beach wheelchair is available upon request. In addition, there are boat ramps, kayak and canoe rentals, bicycling paths, jetties and bridge catwalks for fishing, full facility camping (see their website for how to make reservations), nature trails, pet camping, picnicking, RV camping, and wildlife watching - whew! Or, you can just relax in Florida's sunshine like these folks are doing.

If you are a visitor to our beaches, you may not be familiar with jetties. According to Merriam-Webster, a jetty is a structure extended into a sea, lake, or river to influence the current or tide or to protect a harbor. Definitions aside, a jetty is a great place to fish or lean against the rail, gaze out over the ocean without getting wet, and contemplate life. This jetty at Sebastian Inlet State Park is a real beauty!
(Photos courtesy of Wayne Matchett)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Beachside Lighting Regulations

There were a couple of turtle-related stories in today's Florida Today, both with some useful information. One talked about beachside lighting regulations: "Brevard and beachside cities require all lights visible from the beach be shielded, repositioned, replaced or turned off after 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. The lighting ordinances are in effect from May 1 until Oct. 31, the end of nesting season. Artificial lights can frighten adult nesting female turtles, possibly causing them to abandon their nesting attempt. Hatchlings can be disoriented and drawn to the brighter artificial light rather than the light reflected off the ocean, causing them to fall prey to predators or die from exhaustion." The link to that story is http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080524/NEWS01/805240319/1006/news01&referrer=NEWSFRONTCAROUSEL

The other story discussed the declining loggerhead population and efforts to have the loggerheads that nest along Florida beaches listed as a group separate from the rest of the loggerheads worldwide and to be officially ranked as endangered. Some interesting information in the story, and if you missed it, you can read it at http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080524/NEWS01/805240325/1006/news01&referrer=NEWSFRONTCAROUSEL

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Congratulations, Gemini Elementary 5th Grade Class

There was a nice article in Tuesday's Florida Today about a 5th grade class at Gemini Elementary School in Melbourne Beach. According to the story, Lynne Gelinas' class has studied sea turtles all year and helped to protect these sea creatures by doing walks and creating "Save the Sea Turtle" posters that will be displayed in the windows of Melbourne Beach businesses. The students have also done a lot of beach cleanups.

The class presented Cindy Doloway from the Sea Turtle Preservation Society with a plaque and a poster. The plaque looks really neat - a metal sea turtle containing all of the things that are harmful to sea turtles. I'm checking to see if they sell the plaques.

You can read the whole story at http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080520/NEWS01/805200323/-1/SEVENDAYS

Sunday, May 18, 2008

How to view a blog slideshow

Our friend Wayne figured out how to upload slideshow images and provides us with these directions on viewing.

A slideshow of small thumbnails runs automatically on the blog. Rolling the mouse over a thumbnail causes a slideshow control panel to appear below the thumbnail.

Clicking on a thumbnail brings up a Picasa web page (in a new window) that shows an enlarged view of the thumbnail. From there, you can view the images one at a time by clicking on the next or previous buttons.

If you click View Album at the left end just above the large image, you get a thumbnail view of all the images in the album.

Clicking on Slideshow at the left end above the thumbnails gives an automatically running slideshow with original-sized images. (Press Esc to get out of it.)

Moving the mouse anywhere causes a control panel to appear before the large image. You can pause, adjust dwell time, etc.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Barrier Island Center Grand Opening is Grand!

(Photo courtesy of Wayne Matchett)
Today's Grand Opening of the Barrier Island Center, located in the south end of Brevard County, Florida, was picture-perfect!

The official ribbon cutting ceremony started at 8:00. In this photo, Ray Mojica, Manager of the Center and a guiding force behind its design and implementation, gets plenty of help from his children.

Once inside, visitors were amazed at the beautiful artwork, the captivating interactive displays, and the attention to detail. (As soon as I figure out how to get a slideshow into this blog, I'll upload a better selection of photos.) From the graceful "wave" sign inside the front door, to the back observation deck, this Center is a jewel not to be missed, especially if you have children.

The artwork for the exhibits in the Center was created by Melbourne Beach graphic design artist and scientific illustrator Dawn Witherington, and is simply stunning in its beauty and detail.

Manager Ray Mojica is a computer whiz, and it shows in the wonderful interactive displays that entertain as well as instruct.

Leslie Sprague and her volunteers have created a gift shop that is a treat in itself. And don't miss Donna Lee Crawford's simple but elegant plant arrangement at the Welcome Desk. Grace and the children's activity center will ensure that learning is great fun at the same time. So much good stuff in one tidy building!

The Barrier Island Sanctuary Management and Education Center (Barrier Island Center) is an educational center located in the heart of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, a major nesting site for sea turtles. How this Center came to be a reality is a story of cooperation between agencies and organizations - The Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Land Program (EEL), the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, and the Richard K. Mellon Foundation. The Mellon Foundation donated the 34-acre parcel to Brevard County, the EEL Program developed and now manages the Center, and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation has partnered with the EEL Program to conduct the educational programs offered at the Center.

The Center offers visitors a variety of sea turtle-related exhibits and educational activities, including guided hikes and turtle walks. It is fully handicapped-accessible.

The Center is located on A1A, 14 miles south of the Melbourne Causeway (192), and 3 miles north of Sebastian Inlet State Park. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, or to sign up for turtle walks in June and July, call 321-723-3556.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It's sea turtle nesting season

Sea turtle nesting season is May 1 through October 31. During that time, Brevard County will be blessed with several thousand sea turtles making their way to our shores to scoop out nests in the sand, lay their eggs, and return to the ocean. Towards the end of June, hatchlings will begin to emerge from the nests and orient themselves toward the brightest visible horizon in an attempt to find the sea. A recent article in our local newspaper, Florida Today, noted "Lights from beachfront structures that shine or reflect onto the beach disrupt this instinctive process and disorient the hatchlings, causing them to crawl toward the artificial light instead of crawling to the sea. Brevard County and the beachfront municipalities have lighting ordinances in place to regulate beachfront lights. County code enforcement officers actively patrol the unincorporated beaches during nesting season to ensure compliance."

Residents and visitors alike should take extra care to follow the basic rules - close drapes of beachside windows at night, no flashlights or flash photography on the beach, shield or turn off beachside lights, limit night walks on the beach, and stay away from turtles, nests, and hatchlings.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Poorman's Patch

Our friend Wayne has developed an interest in the poorman's patch, a bristly little flower found on Florida beaches. In our DVD, Florida Beach Basics - The Space Coast, we warn you that if you get the leaf of a poorman's patch on your clothing, let it dry before you try to brush it off. Wayne provided us with this more literary view of the little plant, well as the lovely photo:

Excerpt from "In Days Agone: Notes on the Fauna and Flora of Subtropical Florida in the Days When Most of Its Area was a Primeval Wilderness," by Willis S. Blatchley. This particular excerpt was titled "Cape Sable and Key West in 1919."

Wednesday, February 26, 1919.-The cook at the Club House has a garden two miles east in the grounds surrounding an abandoned house. Dr. King took the mule and wagon and drove up there for turnips and beets, the only things left growing after the heavy frost of a month ago. I rode up with him and walked back, collecting on the way. The tracks of coons and wild cats were very plentiful along the roadway, and also in places those of a much larger cat, probably the Florida panther.

One of the vilest trailing or sprawling herbs on these prairie flats is the "poor man's plaster," or "stickleaf," Mentzelia floridana Nutt. It grows to a length of 6 feet, has very brittle stems, alternate ovate lobed leaves and bright yellow flowers nearly an inch in width. The whole plant, including the seed pods, is densely clothed with minute barbed stinging hairs. If one touches it or walks near it all parts of it break away and cling tenaciously to clothing and shoes; in fact so tightly that they cannot be scraped off, but remain until they wear away. The plant occurs frequently in open places in South Florida and also in the Bahamas.


And here is the ultimate one, found on a website about geocaching:

Ode to Poorman’s Patch

Waiting in the tranquil morning mist,
Listening to cardinals and crickets sing,
Conspiring with neighbors, steady with a patient look.
Branches of green and flowers so yellow,
Appear so harmless and innocent;Pure and uncorrupted by evil?
Until the passer-by brushes against its furred foliage
And touches the hairy leaves in haste
The poorman’s patch grows irate
And leaves behind a wretched and sticky gift!
Who hath been cursed by the Mentzelia floridana?
Fate doom’d the hike of every strider in its path.
The smart sufferer must not launder thy attire, No!
Instead, fear it, but first allow thy garb to dry for days,
Until the poorman dessicates and becomes waterless.
Then with a knife, ye must scrape the wretched leaf;
Chafe and rasp and scour and scratch and scuff,
And the once wicked leaf will be never more.
Handsome as a primrose and incapable of giving pain,
Yet one soon comes to avoid him swiftly.

Perhaps first appearing in the Botanical Gazette, Feb. 1879, in an
article "A Visit to the Shell Islands of Florida," by A.H. Curtiss.