Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
That last number - 70th landing at Kennedy - kind of took me by surprise, even though I've been here for most of them. Two sonic booms give notice that a space shuttle is approaching Kennedy Space Center for a landing. Seventy times we've heard those booms - most of us Space Coast residents jump, then smile and say "welcome home" and go about our business. But we remember, too, the one time we didn't hear them, so it's always a relief to know that all is well and that NASA and its contractors have pulled off another success.
Job well done.
Photo credit: NASA/Troy CryderMarch 28, 2009
So I'll be sitting in the dark again tonight (pay no attention to those who maintain that being in the dark is my normal state). There will be no more photos of my lighted flamingo, however.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
In our February 28 post, we talked about the Blue Fleet - a term used when such ocean drifters as blue buttons, man-of-war, blue glaucus sea slugs, purple sea snails, and by-the-wind sailors wash in to shore. Friend Margie, Beach Coordinator for the City of Cocoa Beach, is on the beach daily. Last Monday was a cloudy, dreary day, but she sent these photos of a purple sea snail and the following report: I finally found one of these beauties today! A cold, gray, windy, unpleasant day on the beach, but being out there has its compensations. :) It occurred to me that we had used a closeup photo of the purple sea snail in our February post, so there was no size reference. Margie's photo of the snail in the wrack illustrates just how small it is, and how easy it would be to overlook it if you were just casually strolling along the beach.
Margie's closeup shot illustrates just how beautiful this little sea creature is. (I called it a violet sea snail in the February post - I'm not certain which is correct. Anybody?)
The next day, Margie sent more news: Blue Fleet arrived in force up this way today. I've never seen so many by-the-wind sailors. Portuguese man-o-war are coming in thick, too. I spent a lot of time answering tourists' questions about them this morning. I found two more purple sea snails, really tiny ones. I'm sure I missed quite a few more.
(Interestingly, an Internet search turned up only one hit on Blue Fleet that was related to our topic, and that was some photos in a Flickr album. Sounds to me like a scholarly paper is needed. )
Florida Cracker (Pure Florida blog) is on an alligator kick. He's done a couple of very interesting posts about Payne's Prairie and Alachua Swamp that include some fine gator photos, and he says he's going to start a Pure Alligator blog one of these days soon. I'll let you know if he does. This photo is one I took on a trip to Viera Wetlands - note the pretty yellow bands characteristic of young gators. FC has a particularly lovely shot of a baby gator on its Mom's back.
David McRee (Blog the Beach) was quoted several times the other day in a Fox News story. David is a life-long Floridian that knows and loves the beach, and he's particularly passionate about beach safety. I wrote a while back about his free beach safety e-book, downloadable from his BeachHunter web site. It should be required reading for all beach-goers!
I was so pleased when another blogging friend, Cactus Jack Spash, described our blog thusly: great information about people working hard to protect wildlife through positive action and education. That's a fine definition I'll use often, and I'm adding it to the criteria for a Conservation Hero. When you go to the Cactus Jack Splash site, be sure to read her post about Sundance, the miracle calf - some charming photos. In the links below, I've included one to the predecessor story of the miracle calf - a good tale.
Blog the Beach
Fox News: How to Keep the Beach From Hitting You Back
Cactus Jack Spash
The predecessor miracle calf story from Cactus Jack Splash
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Vapor trail, nearly red, white, and blue. Lowest part is in darkness, middle part is in setting sun, upper part in full sun.
Close-up of sunset part of vapor trail
Solid rocket boosters falling away like tossed cigarettes (FYI - according to Wikipedia, each solid rocket booster is 149 feet long and 13 feet in diameter. At launch, each weighs 1,300,000 pounds. They are recovered and reused.)
There was some concern today over some space debris, but no avoidance maneuvers were required, and docking with the International Space Stations is set for 5:13 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday).
Our thanks to NASA and its contractors for a perfect mission thus far and to Wayne for sharing his photos and his interpretations!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Today is the Ides of March. According to Wikipedia, in Roman times, the Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars. In more modern times, the term is best known for the date that Julius Caesar was assassinated. Fortunately, NASA did not let this influence their decision to launch!
So how was your weekend? We had stunning weather here in Florida. Friend Charlie Corbeil went to the Pelican Island Wildlife Festival. His entry in the Photography Contest won Best of Show AND Viewers Choice (it was the sandhill crane chick nestled in its mother's wing we showed you in our January 25 post). My son and his wife ventured from their home in Orlando to Forever Florida to try out the new zipline. It will be the topic of a blog posting soon, but suffice it to say they had a great time. Friend Wayne went back to Cruicksank Sanctuary, where he got this dandy photo of a honeybee on Pennyroyal. The pollen it has collected is stored on its hind leg.
Wayne also sent this photo of St. John's wort. Look closely, and you'll see a crab spider hiding in the plant. When Margie and I were on the tour of Enchanted Forest last weekend, our guide mentioned that Port St. John was named for this plant.
I ventured up to Cocoa yesterday to visit Kari Ruder's Naturewise establishment - I got heirloom tomato seedlings to plant in my growbox this next week, as well as a beautiful head of hydroponic lettuce, complete with roots. I put it in a vase of water out on the screened-in porch. In theory, this lettuce will continue to grow. I'll be doing a complete post on this field trip over on our Space Coast Eco site in a couple of days.
And last but not least, today was Selection Sunday for March Madness and the brackets are set. I'm rooting for the North Dakota State Bison. I know that might seem odd, but they made it to the big dance in their first year as a Divison 1 team, and that deserves support!
Good weekend, capped off with a GREAT launch.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tammy included the photos shown here. (Just look at that beautiful face!) We owe people like Ann and Ursula (the person) a debt of gratitude for their unceasing efforts on behalf of sea turtles and Tammy, Michelle, and the rest of the crew at MSC for their competent and compassionate care of our critters.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
It turns out that much of what is known of sea turtles is fairly new knowledge. Blair talked about an experiment he was involved with several years ago as a graduate student that really captured my fancy - I asked him to share his photos so you could enjoy it also.
Blair and his buddies wanted to follow a hatchling to see where it went and "how it made a living", so they crafted the little raft shown above, equipped it with a red LED, attached it to a hatchling, hopped in a boat, and followed the hatchling pulling the lighted raft for three days! (That would be a YouTube video these days, and the hatchling would be named Surfer Dude.)
Long story short, eventually hatchlings need to be around sargasso (shown above), where they can find the food they like, rest a lot with their front flippers tucked on top of their back and their back flippers protecting their little butt against nibbling fish, and generally hang out and "make a living" while they eat and grow and hopefully survive.
There was, of course, much more to Blair's presentation than this, but I had never given much thought to how scientists figured things out, so this is the part I liked the best. The idea of riding in a boat on the open ocean for three days with your eyes glued to a red light on a little raft being pulled by a two-inch hatchling pretty well boggled my mind.
Our thanks to Blair, as always, for sharing his intellect, his humor, and his photos.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
The various organizations sponsoring the event had tables of artifacts and information and experts willing and able to answer questions. I was particularly looking forward to the atlatl demonstration, and soon we treked up the Sanctuary trail, following Dave McDonald, President of the Indian River Anthropological Society.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Just read this on Birdchick's blog and wanted to share the good news: President Obabma has restored rules requiring U.S. agencies to consult with independent federal experts to determine if their actions might harm threatened and endangered species. Here is the Washington Post story about it.