Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sea Turtle Preservation Society Meeting

The Sea Turtle Preservation Society was an active participant during the recent cold stun event, and this month's meeting on Thurday night, February 4, will focus on the experience. Here's your invitation to the meeting, courtesy of Flipper Flash:

On Thursday, February 4, you are invited to attend the STPS General Membership Meeting to be held at the Melbourne Beach Community Center. The theme for the evening is the timely topic of the January 2010 Sea Turtle Cold Stun Event. Beginning at 7:00 PM, refreshments will be served as a series of photographs highlighting the Cold Stun Event in the area is displayed. The photos are courtesy of Ursula Dubrick. Our program begins at 7:30 PM, with the following speakers and topics.
1. Mike Splitt – The Meteorological Explanation for a Cold Stun Event (10 minutes). Mike is a Meteorology Professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, and he will discuss the evolution of the deep freeze and some historic perspective.
2. Karrie Minch - The Cold Stun Event from the State's Perspective (45 minutes). Karrie is the Wildlife Technician, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, Indian River Field Lab. Her presentation includes: a. What is a cold stun event, b. What effect did it have on the sea turtles, and c. Description of statewide cold stun efforts.
3. Roger Pszonowski - The Role of the STPS Stranding Team from Rescue to Release (15 minutes). Roger is the new STPS Stranding Team Coordinator.
4. Unique stories about the event (15 minutes) from STPS Stranding Team members: a. Beth Stuckey - Boating Rescue, and b. Cindy Dolaway - Water Rescue Video
5. Questions and Answers
This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

After the cold

Florida's weather is getting back to normal, after a week of record-breaking temperatures that affected people and critters alike (although like the rest of you, I feel guilty complaining about ANYTHING when I read of the devestation in Haiti). When last I wrote, the sea turtle rescue effort was just getting started, and I spoke in terms of a couple of hundred - turns out that some 4,000+ sea turtles were rescued in the state, and the majority were from Volusia and Brevard counties. It was a herculean rescue effort headed up by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) folks, aided by hundreds of volunteers ranging from organizations like our friends at the Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) and Brevard Zoo to the duck hunters described in Bill Sargent's article in Florida Today newspaper (see Related Links below).

Turtle photographer extraordinaire, Jim Angy, has provided us with some wonderful pix of rescues and releases. I'll compile them into a slideshow soon, but I wanted to share a couple with you now. This first one is of a truckbed full of cold-stunned sea turtles, mostly greens. FWC examined, weighed, measured, tagged, and logged EVERY rescued turtle. The poor cold creatures were then parsed out to any facility that could provide a warm environment for them. Indeed, this logistical effort will provide stories for years to come, along with tales of kind people who kept the sea turtles' eyes sprayed with water and provided whatever other creature comforts they could. (I'm one of those people who firmly believes that creatures know and appreciate those who are trying to help. I also believe Heaven is run by critters, children, and old people, but that's another story.)

This next photo shows STPS friend Roger releasing an eager sea turtle back into the Lagoon south of Sebastian Inlet later in the week, once the waters started to warm up. Jim tells me the turtles took off like bullets once they hit the water.

However, this one lingered for a glamour shot!

Our thanks and sincere admiration to all who participated in this rescue effort, and special recognition to FWC for their ability to react so quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

Related Links:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cold Critters

We've had record-breaking cold for an extended period of time, and our critters are not used to it. Friend Blair Witherington can be seen in a video (see Reference Links below) about cold-stunned sea turtles pulled from Mosquito Lagoon at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR). According to an alert sent out by the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, the Marine Science Center in Volusia County had received some 300 for rehab as of yesterday. In South Brevard, thankfully we have not had those numbers, but 13 were rescued yesterday, and this morning started out with a rescue at Long Point Park. Those of you in Brevard County - if you find a sea turtle that needs help, call the STPS at 321-768-1701.

Meanwhile, the manatees have sought refuge in a drainage ditch close to friend Wayne Matchett's house in Satellite Beach. This many manatees in this accessible a location is big news, and there have been a variety of print and tv stories about it - one issue is that it is illegal to feed them, but that's not stopping people from doing it, trespassing on private property to see them, etc. As is usual, it's not the critters that are the problem! We thank Wayne for sharing his wonderful pix, legally obtained!

All I know is, I've been in Florida since the early 1960s, and this is the first time I remember the water in my bird bath being frozen! Most of our wild birds, however, do not seem too bothered. Wayne sent photos from a drive he and Julie took through MINWR, and at least this roseate spoonbill is not wrapped in its snuggy. (They stopped at Sunrise Bakery on US #1 in Titusville, on that southbound stretch of Hopkins that goes through downtown - he tells me their breads are excellent. They dined at Dixie Crossroads, always a favorite. A field trip that includes beautiful birds, good food, and fresh bread sounds like a winner to me.)
From the Gulf Coast, this news from friend Suzi Fox, sea turtle volunteer extraordinaire. Permit holders from Lee and Collier counties rescued an adult leatherback sea turtle and transported it to Mote Marine Laboratory Rehab Hospital. I'm going to wait and do a separate post on this later this week - the press release had a thorough writeup about leatherbacks, and I want to share the whole thing with you.
As always, a salute to the many volunteers helping our critters through this disruption.
Marine Science Center (press release about cold-stunned sea turtles and birds)
Mote Marine Laboratory (includes information about the rescued leatherback)

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 - Bring it ON!

Prior to Christmas, Charlie Corbeil sent this beautiful photo of a masked duck that has taken up residence at Viera Wetlands. According to Wikipedia, these smallish stiff-tailed ducks reside primarily in Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean and are generally non-migratory. They are rarely seen in our neck of the woods. Charlie tells me there was a female masked duck in the Viera Wetlands three years ago, and hundreds of birders from all over came to see it. This one is a drake, and we're lucky that Charlie saw it and got this beautiful photograph before the hordes began decending on the Wetlands again. (Right after Christmas, the Brevard Natural Resources Management Offices reported numerous traffic problems attributed to folks coming to see the duck.) The first one three years ago stayed about six weeks, so perhaps this little guy will hang around for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, January 27 - February 1! (As aways, our continuing thanks to Charlie for sharing his talent with us so graciously.)

Speaking of the Festival, be sure to visit Blog the Beach (see Reference Links below) - David is posting professionally for the Festival this year and has done several excellent posts about field trips and speakers.
I took a look at what I wrote on January 1, 2009 - it was about Ann Zscheille's trip to The Turtle Hospital for a rehab workshop. She went again this year, and her visit reminds me to tell you that Sandy, the Hawksbill from St. Croix that was attacked by dogs while laying her eggs on the beach, flown to the United States, and treated at The Turtle Hospital, recovered after a full year of treatment and was flown back to St. Croix and released. How's that for a great success story! Kudos to all involved, including American Airlines, who brought Sandy to Florida when she was injured and flew her and Turtle Hospital personnel back to St. Croix for her release. (See Reference Links below).
It's a rainy, quiet day here on this first day of 2010 - perfect for making resolutions and being retrospective, but I'm not fond of either activity, so I'll watch football and wallow in a day of laziness. Here in Central Florida, we're being held hostage by the battle between Time Warner Cable and Fox, so we still don't know if we'll see the media-flagellated drama that is the Gators in tonight's Sugar Bowl. Right now, I'm going to go watch Bobby Bowden's last game, not because I'm an FSU fan, but out of respect for an icon that's been treated poorly - what classless treatment of a classy coach.
But whether we get to watch the game tonight or not ...