30 May 2008

Mermaids and Pathways

I've always wanted to take a picture under the Pensacola Beach pier, but usually, there are people there, even in the pre-dawn hours. Today, the beach was relatively empty and the pastel light was soft and lovely. I started with half the image, on the east.

Then, I tried the whole view. It was like a metaphorical door was slammed in my face. It reminded me of a piece of driftwood I saw later on the beach that looked like a tensed, dead fisherman. Some images seem inherently evil. I couldn't take a photo of the driftwood, and almost didn't post this, but the day seemed to be about doorways and paths, so it seemed appropriate...

I'm not sure what this would mean in a dream -- am I looking at the light at the end of the tunnel, a new path in life or what?

Every time I'm on the Pensacola Beach turtle run, I find neat sand castles. This was more interesting than most, especially with the Sargassum hair, and the cage they tried to put her in. If it's still there tomorrow, I'm taking the Spartina cage down.

Last year and this year, the lone Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) nest on Fort Pickens has been in this patch of railroad vine. I'm not sure why, but the flowers were worth an image

or two...

I finally had a chance to check on the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) poles in the park. All of them had nests, and attentive parents. One even had a chick!

The Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias)are starting to hatch too. You may be able to see the chicks here...

After leaving the Osprey poles on the north shore, I cut through the old Fort area to get to the south shore. More doorways beckoned...

It looked elegant at first, til I saw it ended in a solid brick wall.

With my claustrophobia, I'd have to escape through this barred window, or tear down the crumbling brick wall. I really need to learn more about the history of the park -- maybe an Interp ranger would give me a free tour in exchange for a Resource Management ranger lead turtle walk...

Something in me is always attracted to flowers.

I wonder if I was a bee or a hummingbird in my dreams... or maybe, I'm the mermaid, waiting for the marsh grass cage to go away.

Whatever is going on this very strange week, with trouble at the office and change in the wind, it seems clear that I'm trying to find myself, my way, my path in life.

My way seems shrouded in shadows -- it's not anywhere I've been and I'm not sure it's a path anyone has walked before. All I know is that I keep getting reminded that it is about turtles and the sea...

Wherever it may lead, there's no reason I can't enjoy the flowers along the way!

29 May 2008

My Day at the Office

Rebecca sent me this picture from Little Cumberland Island, Georgia, earlier this afternoon. It was a daytime nester last night that she caught on camera with some friends. The very strange thing is that this particular turtle (Caretta caretta) was tagged in 1996, when Jordanna and I were the sea turtle team, and she hasn't been on the island since. How cool is that! She's now 110 cm!

It's been an interesting two days... There have been a lot of frisky dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) lately. These photos were from the Santa Rosa area of the park yesterday:

These are from a mating group near Fort Pickens today. Don't worry though -- I left out a lot of the photos. We took the boat out to replace buoys at Perdido Key and stopped along the Fort Pickens shallows on the way back.

It's interesting how the light and color change when the sun ducks behind the clouds.

I was a little too closely focused to capture this leap, but I like the way the photo turned out anyway. Can you believe I was paid for this "work"?

27 May 2008

Loggerheads, Plovers and a Stranded Green

This is shaping up to be an excellent sea turtle nesting season for Gulf Islands. As of this morning, we already have six nests -- our first nest last year wasn't until June 25th, so we're all pretty happy. Calle Hermosa got their traditional nest today.

Sally, Monica and I took an embarrassing amount of time finding the eggs, but sometimes that happens. It just means the mama turtle did a good job camouflaging the nest. We found the eggs eventually, and left them right were she built the nest. She chose a good spot.

We spent the rest of the day at Perdido Key, GPSing existing turtle nests and finding four new SNPL nests. Can you see this one sitting on her eggs? She really is there...

Maybe this is a little easier...

It's hard to see these little 5 inch birds when you're driving down the beach on an ATV. That's one reason we try to drive so slowly, but they're still easy to miss!

We also had one stranding today, a tiny green about 16 inches long (well, that's carapace length only).

It's sad to see these animals that have succeeded so well, overcoming unimaginable obstacles to grow to 'dinner plate' size. This turtle was too far gone for us to determine what killed it, but at least we know there are small recruits feeding in our sea grass beds. All the more reason to take the boat out this week and make sure our buoys are in place over the sea grass!

My personal goal for the week (a new addition here): to be more patient with less driven colleagues and practice kindness in all of my interactions, no matter what.

24 May 2008

A Long Two Days -- Rainbow Weekend and the Santa Rosa Area

Have you ever felt as if you've been running in place and getting nothing done? I spent most of this week on the same section of sand, and can honestly say all I did was spin my wheels. It was a good week, just strange and unproductive. The office was, of course, typically stunning...

The weekend is Rainbow Weekend on Pensacola Beach. It means hundreds, or thousands, of people come to camp on the beach -- illegally, but no one really enforces that particular law. It made my early mornings a challenge though! I had to try to get around this in the pre-dawn hours while looking for nesting turtles. This is actually pretty empty. It was so jam-packed that I eventually walked the last mile of my turtle patrols both days, not that I mind an early morning beach walk.

With so many people, lights and noise on the beach, there were no living turtles in this area. This was the only sea turtle I've found since the 21st.

I didn't get much else done today though. The least terns are still setting up nesting areas and moving. Some of them have actually stayed in place long enough to have chicks, but most of them seem to wait until we've closed and fenced in an area, then they move 100 yards east overnight. It's an endless cycle of musical beach, which makes for an excellent, if frustrating, daily workout.

Even when my week ends up like this, with me feeling as if I've accomplished nothing, it's still a good week at the office. What a gorgeous place to call 'work'. Even the storm clouds are ethereal and illuminating, in their own way.

22 May 2008

Birds and Gardens

Today was a tern day, and went as planned. We spent a little more time with the stranded turtle first to get a more complete assessment of the cause of death, then moved on to Fort Pickens, where we had over 200 least terns. There are about 60 in this picture -- can you see them?

There are fewer here, but they may be easier to see.

This poor little plover chick was lost in the least tern masses with his parents and a sibling. They finally dashed to the north shore for a little peace from the shrieking terns.

The darkened sky and vibrant salt marsh are a perfect backdrop for our ever-present great blue heron models. They even look elegant when they're grooming. You almost have to take pictures of them.

The snowy egrets seemed to think today was a good day to play in the water before the rains arrive. I'm not sure, but I think this may be a family group from our heron/egret rookery.

Though the skies and forecasts threaten rainy weather for the next 24 hours, I still watered my veggies -- my squash plants have their first blossoms, even in the sandy soil. I can't wait for some really fresh veggies! I know, it's not very exciting, but I haven't been in one place long enough to have a garden in a long time...

International Coastal Clean-Up!

The 2008 Coastal Clean-Up on Santa Rosa Island was a great success, but we can work together to make everyday a Coastal Clean-up Day... Help us keep our beaches beautiful!

For details on the 2009 coastal clean-up efforts in Pensacola or in your area, or other ways you can help, click here.

Hello World!

Hello World!
Which way to the sea?