Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Forty-four years ago, Apollo 8 was launched from Cape Kennedy on Dec. 21 and entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve. So many "firsts" and so many technological accomplishments, but the lingering memory is of the astronauts (Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders) beaming a television program from orbit to earth on Christmas Eve, during which they read from the Book of Genesis. They timed their broadcast to show the planet Earth hanging in the blackness of space and the surface of the moon visible in the lower left corner. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program ever. In addition to our profound appreciation to NASA for its many technological achievements, we must also recognize their extraordinary sense of history and documentation that allows us to relive Apollo 8. Here, then, is that timeless greeting from the crew of Apollo 8, illustrated by NASA's photo entitled Rising Earth.
William Anders: "For all the people on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you. " "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."
Jim Lovell: "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."
Frank Borman: "And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."
Borman then added, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
(Photo by NASA)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
When I returned to the workforce in July (I'm a technical writer and spend most of my days hunched over a computer), I knew it would interfere with my blogging. I've tried various approaches - getting up at 5:00 in the morning to write (aargh), writing three or four posts on Sunday and then publishing them during the week. But the fact remains that something from which I have derived so much pleasure in the past now feels like just more work.
So I'm taking a blogging sabbatical, so to speak - a break until that day when I think - Wow! I can't wait to write about that!
Friday, October 23, 2009
I hope you will remember all this the next time you find yourself staring into an alligator's eyes!
A kind neighbor made sure my little Italian Greyhound princess did not go without food while I was spending long days at the sea-bean symposium, and I gave her Blair and Dawn's book, Florida's Living Beaches: A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber, as a thank-you. She is totally captivated and has started a list of people she plans to buy copies for.
As always, our thanks to Blair for sharing his expertise and his photos.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
another day beginning
and the game is on
Monday, October 12, 2009
Once there, Wilbur was greeted by Tammy, a sea turtle rehab specialist and one of our conservation heroes. Her exam showed that Wilbur was exhausted and dehydrated, but otherwise in good condition. Wilbur then:
got weighed (Wilbur weighed 24 grams, or .87 oz),
got measured (Wilbur was 5.6 centimeters, a little over 2 inches) ,got fluids (ouch),
and joined his friends for lettuce and a little "rest and relaxation" so he can build his strength back up. Then he'll be ferried back out to the Sargasso and released, hopefully to lead a long and peaceful life.
A lot of people made a difference in the life of one little turtle - our thanks to them and to animal rescuers everywhere. Special thanks to Ann for sharing her story and photos.
And here's Wilbur, washed ashore during a storm. Ann describes his state of mind thusly: Everything happened so fast, Wilbur is dazed. Where is he? What happened to the ocean? Then Wilbur begins to recognize where he is. He is back on the beach amongst the seaweed. Without water, the seaweed traps Wilbur even more. He is exhausted, hungry and dehydrated. He no longer has the energy to crawl back to the ocean, much less to swim 20 miles back to his safe haven in the sargassum. The birds are searching the seaweed for food. The sun is beating down on him.
Wilbur is one of the lucky washbacks - a STERP volunteer will find him, put him in a bucket with a nice damp towel, and transport him to the Marine Resource Center in Ponce Inlet. What happens there will be the topic of tomorrow's post.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The late Cathie Katz was friend, mentor, and muse who wrote wonderful books (including The Nature of Florida's Beaches), started an international organization of sea-bean lovers called The Drifters who hold the annual Sea-Bean Symposium, and inspired all who knew her.
Cathie lost her battle with cancer in 2001, but she left a legacy of books, friends, and traditions. Shortly after her death, Ed Perry led the effort to have a sea-bean named in her honor, and the common name for the Canavalia nitida shown here is now Cathie's Bean. (Photos by Jim Angy)
Cathie and Jim Angy were close friends, and Jim provided the photographs for some of Cathie's book covers. For her memorial service, he wrote a poem titled The Nature of my Questions that began with these words:
"Considering how vast the shoreline truly is …
What wind, what current, what tide
Allowed us to end up on this same beach?
In a sea of strangers, how did we become such close friends?"
Our 14th Annual Sea-Bean Symposium will kick off Friday, October 16. We'll see close friends, many of whom have attended every symposium, either as a visitor or a speaker/exhibitor, and we'll make new friends who will be amazed at just how warm and friendly this event is. And we'll take time to think of Cathie. She loved the beach and everything on it, and credited her first sighting of a sea turtle laying eggs with changing her life's direction. Knowing her changed ours.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Meanwhile, it was a beautiful weekend. Cocoa Beach had its first airshow, and it was apparently a huge success, with some 30,000 folks crowding onto the beach each day to watch such events as the Golden Knights skydivers, an F-22 Raptor, a water rescue demonstration by the 920th Rescue Wing from Patrick Air Force Base, and a variety of other airplane related performances. Margie sent these pix, with this note: Perfect day to watch loud airplanes over the water. :)
Friday, I attended a meeting at the Brevard Zoo and snapped a few photos of little kids having a simply wonderful time in the Paws On exhibit. I hope this picture gives you an idea of just how carefree an environment this is. We'll talk more about the Zoo later, probably in our Space Coast Eco blog, but it was such a lovely day in such a delightful place that I wanted to share the feeling.
I hope your weekend was similarly mellow, wherever you are. Blog the Beach friends David and Sue spent their weekend getting married, so best wishes to them!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Margie found this beautiful little gopher tortoise on the beach early yesterday morning. What, you may well ask, is a gopher tortoise doing on the beach? Blair and Dawn Witherington's book, Florida's Living Beaches, tells us that gopher tortoises dig burrows in sandy scrub habitat, including coastal dunes, and that they may wander onto beaches, but rarely feed there.
Margie adds: There are some living in the dunes here and there. I've seen them wandering on the beach before. The unfortunate ones are misidentified by beach-goers as sea turtles and "helped" into the ocean. This little guy today was pretty far from the dune line when I saw him. He was down in last week's dried wrack, right next to a big ghost crab hole. At first I thought maybe the crab had dragged him there and he was injured, so I picked him up to see. He was ok and tried to run away, so I could see all his legs were working fine. At that point I figured I might as well "help" him get home, so I took him up to the dune line and put him down near a bay bean plant (sometimes called a beach pea), which is when I took the photos. When last seen, he was motoring west into the thick dune, using his sturdy little legs. (Be sure to click on the photo to enlarge it - baby gopher turtles are such pretty little creatures.)
As luck would have it, Jim has this photo of a loggerhead sea turtle hatchling, posing near a railroad vine. Good looking flippers, handy to have when swimming. (Click on photo so you can see the fancy white trim on his little flippers.)
The moral of this story is, if it has flippers, it's a sea turtle. If it has legs, it's not, and don't put it in the water!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Curt Ebbesmeyer had Bill Blazek and Margie documenting drift shoes for a while. Margie notes: Bill may still be doing it, but I quit after about three years. Curt was interested in whether certain beaches attract left or right shoes. I collected over 500 shoes and kept a spread sheet with an entry every day I found any drift shoes. My data showed no statistical difference between the arrival of lefts and rights, but Curt eventually concluded, from what data I don't know, that there are left and right beaches. If I remember correctly, he mentions it in his book. I know I've heard him say it in a talk.
Curt is the keynote speaker at this year's Sea-Bean Symposium, so I'll be sure to ask him. Meanwhile, there are pages and pages of Internet "hits" for Curtis Ebbesmeyer - here's a good one that talks about his shoe theory.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Well, that was good news in and of itself. But then last night, I got this follow-up email regarding Jim Kriewaldt's adventures at yesterday's cleanup of Port Canaveral: 2 people, 4 hours, 9 bags trash, ~300 pounds. VERY high tide, with strong east wind, drove trash to west end of west turning basin. Carnival (cruise ship) in, so couldn't do north end of the west turning basin. Trash collected in with seaweed in other three corners. Found one interesting package that I put off to the side. Called security on way back in. Met and transferred package to Port Security Officer. She called the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, who took custody. It turned out out to be a kilo of cocaine. Today's Florida Today story about the find put the street value at $100K. That's some "square grouper!" (Photo by Jim Kriewaldt)
Our thanks to Ocean Conservancy, Keep Brevard Beautiful, and all the volunteers who spent their Saturday morning cleaning up after others and to Barb for sending us the news. Kudos to Jim for figuring out what he caught and what to do with it!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I know when I got interested in sea-beans, but FC's question made me wonder when sea-beans started to become more of a field of study and interesting to more people. So I asked Ed Perry, native Floridian, park ranger, and co-author with John Dennis of "Sea-Beans From the Tropics: A Collector's Guide to Sea-Beans and Other Tropical Drift on Atlantic Shores." The following is Ed's reply: The first interest in the science of sea-beans was probably in the 60s/70s, mainly in south Florida, and primarily because of Bob Mossman and John Dennis and the publishing of the subject's first comprehensive reference book, "World Guide to Tropical Drift Seeds and Fruits" that John co-authored with Dr. Bob Gunn. The renewed interest started in the mid-90s, here in Brevard, and was due to Cathie Katz and her books/newsletter and the sea-bean symposiums.
Ed's interest in sea-beans began at an early age when his grandmother operated the Sea Bean Boutique gift shop on the Canaveral Pier (now Cocoa Beach Pier). Ed tells us: It had nothing to do with selling sea-beans, but because of the name, people would always want to know what a sea-bean was/looked like. Thus, my grandmother would send me out on the beach when I wasn’t fishing to look for sea-beans. She would keep them in her cash drawer to show to interested visitors. She often gave them away, thus entailing more work for me when I visited her again (she gave me a quarter for each one I brought back to her). After graduating college, I came back to Brevard and started reading books by Cathie Katz. I thought, “here’s a lady as crazy as I am, picking these curious seeds off the beach!” I met Cathie and we were kindred spirits. I became involved with a loose-knit group known as “The Drifters” that studied, collected, and wrote about driftseeds on a worldwide level. (This photo by Blair Witherington shows Ed at last year's symposium.)
Since Cathie's death in 2001, Ed has spearheaded the annual symposiums and publishes the quarterly Drifting Seed newsletter that connects 500 readers in 20 countries. Ed is a life-long resident of Brevard County and has been a park ranger at Sebastian Inlet State Park for over 20 years.
Regarding the plant that FC grew in his bedroom, Ed tells us that the seeds are almost always viable. Once their shells are cracked, they're ready to grow some pretty interesting plants.
Sea Bean Web Site (Paul Mikkelsen is the webmaster of this dandy site)
Drifting Seed (newsletter)
The rest of the story ...
My daughter-in-law sent this to me via email - one of those forwarded and reforwarded things. I got such a kick out of it that I knew I wanted to share it, but she did not know its origin, and I could not figure out how to extract it from the email. (I knew it was an animated .gif, but you can't put those directly into a blog post.)
Faithful readers have figured out that I don't know much, but I have a lot of talented friends, so I asked Wayne Matchett if he could figure it out. Bless his retired system engineering heart, he weaseled it into an iMovie.
In an effort to give proper attribution to whomever created this cute little thing in the first place, I searched on-line and found a couple of web sites using it, but nobody that took credit for developing it. So to that nameless person, thanks for the giggle!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
It's migration time again, and Charlie Corbeil has captured some wonderful photos of these beautiful creatures. He shared this glamour shot with us, and there are others on his web site (see Reference Links below). As Charlie and I were talking about the hazards these crabs face in trying to cross the highway, I was reminded of a story I read last year about folks in Vermont helping some endangered frogs and salamanders across the road. Looking for an update, I searched on "help frogs across the road", and sure enough - there was a story about this year's Vermont rescue effort (link below - a good story).
Matt reminds me that picking up a salamander and carrying it across the road is one thing - exposing your fingers to a Great Land Crab is something else. Still, it seems a rescue process might be considered for these critters whom we have seriously inconvenienced.
Great Land Crabs (a post we did last year)
Vermont Rescue Operation (ABC news story)
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Kennedy Point Marina (US 1), Titusville
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I was also reminded of a conversation with Jim Angy, long-time Brevard beach rat, in which he said white vinegar has been a standby remedy for years, but many locals would recommend just peeing on the sting. An interesting ABC News story noted that using vinegar would get you fewer strange looks!
David's post and the ABC News story are both excellent resources for information on how to inactivate the stinger and eventually remove it. Best advise is, of course, don't mess with a jellyfish!
(Photo of moon jellyfish by Ann Zscheile - click to enlarge)
Blog the Beach (David's post about a jellyfish sting neutralizing gel)
Old Wive's Tale? Urine as a Jellyfish Sting Remedy (ABC News story)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Apparently the winds were blowing the critters south - on Wednesday, Ann sent photos from her early morning sea turtle nest monitoring walk on Satellite Beach - love how the sunrise colors are reflected by this in the moon jellyfish and the sand.
Blair goes on to say: Not many animals eat jellyfish. The short list includes leatherback sea turtles, molas (ocean sunfish), some sea birds, and humans. Yes, the group of jellyfish containing the cannonball jelly is edible. I’ve tried it. Not bad with the right seasoning. Animals that specialize on a diet of jelly (like leatherbacks) have to eat a lot of them. Most jellyfish are about 95% water. By contrast, we are about 65% water.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I don't watch much TV, but I always watch The Big Bang Theory (if you like nerds, you'll love this show). As luck would have it, last night's episode involved the toilet on the International Space Station. I had to switch away from the Miami/FL State game for 30 minutes to watch it, but it was worth it - having seen this video, it was even funnier.