Happy World Sea Turtle Day

June 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Creature Feature, Endangered Encounters | Leave a comment
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Happy World Sea Turtle Day, creature lovers! It’s not exactly easy to be a sea turtle. From the moment they hatch, they face the struggles of artificial light disorientation and being eaten by predators, to growing up and facing the dangers of ingesting litter and being struck by boats, all the way to having their nests poached when its their time to return to the beach from which they hatched to lay their eggs. Humans really seem to have turned out to be their worst enemy. But no matter where you are in the world, you can help. Help save our turtles, and the oceans they live in! Pick up trash, say no to plastic bags, make the switch to environmentally friendly lighting to reduce sky glow. Lets save what we have left for future generation to enjoy! A turtle that hatches today could still be around for our great grandchildren to enjoy, let’s be sure they are.

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Sea Turtle Day

February 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Animal Events, Endangered Encounters, For the Family | Leave a comment
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Here we are, the last day of February.  Spring is just around the corner!  The month of March begins tomorrow, and what an important month it is!  Obviously I’m talking about my birthday being in March, next week I turn… ummm… you know what, let’s talk about what else is happening in March.  St. Patricks Day!  Also a big deal to me personally, but the subject’s I write about here aren’t really into green beer.  If you’re near the coast you probably already know that March 1st is the official kick off to Sea Turtle Season!  Soon enough Leatherback Sea Turtles will be making their way to shores and laying their eggs, followed by other species later in the season.  Welcoming Sea Turtle Season in a big way is Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, FL, celebrating it’s 8th Annual Sea Turtle Day this Saturday, March 2nd.

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If you’re in the area, be sure not to miss this wonderful event.  It’s a great family day – there will be face painting, crafts for kids, guided tours, animal presentations, and so much more, all to benefit our friend the Sea Turtle and raise awareness about the harm that light pollution causes this endangered species.  Come out for the day with the kids and check out some of the patients in the turtle hospital, animals who were sick or injured, rescues, and are now being rehabilitated until they are able to be released back into the big blue.

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While you’re here you can also learn about FAU’s research and what they’re doing to help the Sea Turtle survive.  You can pop inside one of the labs and see young Turtles of several species under the care of the research team.  Come late turtle season, this facility will be filled with new hatchlings, gaining size and strength before being released into the ocean.  You can also learn about the centers Sea Turtle Walks, night time walks to hopefully catch a glimpse of the amazing sight of a mother Sea Turtle coming ashore to lay her eggs, and Hatchling Releases, the adorable sight of watching little ones that were under the care of Gumbo Limbo scurry into the ocean, their home for hopefully the next 100+ years.

So head on out, enjoy the day!  Sadly, I will not be able to attend, so enjoy it for me! (I will be taking advantage of one last cool weekend in Homosassa Springs to see the Manatee’s before Manatee Season comes to an end at the end of March)  If you go, let me know how it was!

For more information on Sea Turtle Day, or Sea Turtles in General, please visit here…

http://www.gumbolimbo.org/Sea-Turtle-Day-2013

Return to the Crystal River

January 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, For the Family, The Wild Side | 2 Comments
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It had been just over a year since the last time I found myself in Homosassa Springs and I couldn’t wait to get back!  So in December, what started with just my two cousins and I wanting to see manatees from their world, turned into a much larger family trip of 12 of us. I had such a wonderful experience the year before, I wanted to make sure my family had the same great time.  And who do you trust with a dozen of your craziest relatives?  None other than Captain Glenn and River Ventures!  Once again, from the minute I had booked months in advance, the folks at River Ventures were awesome… making reservations was easy as could be, changing the reservations when more people wanted to come was just as easy, changing the reservations once again because we don’t do anything organized the first two times was not a problem either, and finally the day of was a breeze.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to coordinate 12 people ages 12 to, well, I won’t say the oldest age because I’ll be in trouble for announcing that on the internet… but they managed with ease.  I’ll tell you from being related to my group, that is no easy task!

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It was a chilly December morning, around 37*.  Steam was coming off the water from it being about 35* warmer and my family was shooting me looks of “Are you kidding me right now?!”  They had no idea what they were in for.  The chill in the air reminded me of how cold I got last time, though I wasn’t about to tell that to my sleepy mob.  Unlike last time, when, having visited just before official “manatee season”, the manatee sanctuary zones were up, a “human-free” area where manatees can hang away from people.

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Manatees and exhausted humans weren’t the only ones out early this morning.  There is a variety of wildlife in the area, including many kinds of birds, otter, even the occasional dolphin.  We were greeted at Three Sisters Springs by the sounds of singing birds, a Great Blue Heron hunting in the mist, and an Osprey that had just come in for a landing.  Of course, we were also greeted by the sound of manatees surfacing for air.

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Shortly after anchoring, the red carpet was rolled out and we had a welcoming committee playing with the ladder.  Everyone carefully entered the water, doing our best not do disturb our playful little manatee friend.  The warmer water was almost welcome… after the shock of water touching everyone anyway.  I waited back as my family slipped into the water one by one, ready to hand out floating noodles to those who decided last minute that they needed one.  Finally, after a little bit of madness and confusion what comes standard in my families DNA, we were all in the water and off to meet some new friends.

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To say that manatees were everywhere isn’t an exaggeration, they really were.  There were points in time where I was getting bumped from different directions by passing manatees… apparently I’m not much of a road block for a 2,000lb animal, which thinking about it as I write this makes me worry less about eating healthy today.  We headed toward the entrance to Three Sisters Springs slowly but steadily, admiring the many manatees as we passed.  Some were resting, some were feeding, some were playing; it was impossible to keep track of them all.  I spent half my time observing the manatees and the other half observing my family, all of whom seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

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The Springs were quite busy this morning, there were several tour boats, kayakers, and people on their own boats.  Naturally the more people you have in a crowd the more likely someone is not to listen.  I can proudly say I am actually NOT speaking about anyone in my family!  There was a couple on their own boat who, despite Captain Glenn warning them where they were headed and why they shouldn’t go there, managed to startle sleeping manatees.  The ones they startled went into a panic and ran into others, who did the same, and you can imagine the chain of events – a manatee stampede.  The splashing picture above doesn’t do the actual event justice, it was pure madness for a few seconds, and afterward there were manatees covered in sand like the one pictured above from the ground being kicked up.  Lesson of the day – Always listen to Captain Glenn!

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After the manatee rodeo, we headed into Three Sisters Springs to see if anyone was hanging out inside.  The current was quite strong getting inside!  The kayakers that were heading in to check out the beauty of the springs didn’t seem to be having as much trouble as we were.  We had to use the rocks to help us along, almost like a lateral rock wall.  But it was worth the fight of the current, the springs are absolutely beautiful inside.

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Once inside, the waters turned into a clear blue tone.  It wasn’t quite as clear as last time I was there, but last time I visited was during a slower time of the year, so there were more people present and understandably the sand on the bottom was being kicked up more.  Inside the springs there were a few resting manatees hanging out being admired by swimmers and kayakers who could easily see down into the water.  Fish were taking shelter under the resting manatees and keeping warm where the spring releases its warm water.  Even on busy days when the water isn’t crystal clear, it’s still worth the trip into the springs, even if just to observe your surroundings and take in how gorgeous this natural wonder really is.  The manatees being present just adds to the awe.

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Soon enough, we had spent nearly 2 hours in the water and it was time to head back to the boat and into the freezing air.  As one last goodbye, after a good amount of our group had already retreated to the boat, my cousin and I were approached by a friendly youngster.  He swam up to us and was rubbing himself on our legs like he had an itch he couldn’t reach.  As with a few others that day, he began playing with my feet and was even trying to take hold of them with his flipper and also held onto my leg as if he wanted it for himself.  This kiddo was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.  The last few of us holding out, afraid to face the much colder air, finally made it past the manatees blocking the ladder and back onto the boat… and directly to the hot chocolate kept on board to help thaw out human ice cubes.  It was an event that all 12 of us agree was truly wonderful.  If you have a family of 12, you KNOW this is a miracle in itself!

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IF YOU GO:

This really is something to be enjoyed by people of all ages.  An adventure you can take on your own, or with a boat full of friends and family.  For sure, something to add on to your bucket list!  Try to go during cooler months and be sure to book in advance!

As I’ve said before, I can’t possibly say enough nice things about the crew at River Ventures.  They will take excellent care of you and your family.  For more information, visit them here…

http://www.riverventures.com/

This time around, we stayed the night in town.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express that we found on River Ventures web site.  Great accommodations!  They were all of 2 minutes from River Ventures, which is a HUGE deal at 6AM.  They have a continental breakfast, out and served before you go to your swim.  They’re also good about late check out so you can return and shower before you check out.  The rooms are clean and the staff is friendly, I’ll be staying with them again for sure.  Check them out yourself here…

http://www.hiexpress.com/hotels/us/en/crystal-river/crtfl/hoteldetail

You can also read about my previous visit here…

https://wild4creatures.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-manatees-of-crystal-river-fl/

Pic of the Week – 12/29

December 31, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, For the Family, Pic of the Week | Leave a comment
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Last week, I returned to The Crystal River with my family. A whoppin’ 12 of us took a family trip to Homosassa Springs to go swimming with their resident manatees. As you’ll find out in my full story when I get around to posting it, they were EVERYWHERE! This one in particular was inside Three Sisters Springs. Happening upon it was a quiet, calm moment in a very busy day, and my peaceful pic of the week.

Manatee Park – Ft. Myers, FL

December 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, For the Family | Leave a comment
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It was a cool morning in Ft. Myers, and when the temperature drops here in Florida something wonderful happens for wildlife lovers – the endangered Manatee makes its way inland to warmer waters.  Despite their large size, manatees only have about 2 inches of body fat and require warm water to avoid hypothermia.  In some parts of the state, manatees migrate to natural springs where the water is a constant 72*.  In other parts, they move toward FPL power plants where warm water is discharged all day and night.  Manatee Park in Ft. Myers is directly across the street from one of these plants, and during “Manatee Season” (November – March) you can often see them here hanging out and keeping warm.  No matter what time of year you go, this is a wonderful family park!  There is a playground for the kids, a butterfly garden, picnicing areas, and a canoe/kayak launch if you have your own as well as a company who rents them out, and weather the manatees are there or not, manatee observation areas with all sorts of manatee educational information and even an underwater microphone so you can hear their little clicks and whistles.

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Toward the very front of the park is where the warm FPL water discharges into the river.  The water here is coming out fast, so there is a strong current.  Up in that area is where we found the most active manatees, swimming against the current, enjoying the warm water, and playing to their little hearts content.  We saw manatees splashing all over the place, tails in the air, even some manatees breeching out of the water.  They really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

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The only sad thing was the reminder of how delicate this endangered species really is.  There were quite a few manatees in the park that had markings on their bodies from boats.  Manatees are slow moving animals and don’t always manage to get out of the way of faster moving boats, these collisions are the top reason for the species decline.  While there are designated “Manatee Zones’ on waterways to slow boaters down in areas that are more popular with this peaceful marine mammal, manatees can’t exactly read to stay within their safely zone, so they aren’t always in safe areas.  While boating, we need to be aware of our surroundings, watch for manatee “footprints” on the waters surface, and try our best to avoid them.  Also, as cute as their begging faces are, people need to resist the urge to feed and water them.  Aside from the legalities as manatees are under protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act AND The Endangered Species Act, both making it illegal to feed them, it also encourages them to approach humans.  While on a boat in Estero back in April, we were observing manatees from a distance, and suddenly we noticed they we looking at us from the edge of our boat… they had no fear of us.  Without a natural fear, or even just disinterest in humans, manatees will put themselves in harms way by approaching boats.

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Surely my favorite part, as always, was the babies!  There were quite a few babies out today, one looking like it was less than a month old.  They were mostly resting but we were lucky enough to see one nursing.  Perhaps the most relieving thing was knowing that even though this is a delicate species, through conservation efforts, their numbers continue to grow.  The little ones always make me smile, it gives me hope that this wonderful creature will be around long enough for my son to appreciate.

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Other manatees were just cruising the canal stretch or resting in the calmer waters.  Some hung out by themselves, others were in pairs and groups.  All in all, we saw dozens of them.  Young and old, playing and sleeping.

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WestCoastNov12 849 On the back side of the park, just beyond the scantuary area, is a boardwalk that extends out over the river.  There was plenty of manatee action back here too, like the barrel rolling manatee above.  This is the area that you can canoe and kayak in and we did see some kayakers out enjoying the beautiful scenic nature and manatees only feet away from them.  While I have never gone kayaking here myself (this was my first visit to Manatee Park and we were on a time restriction so we couldn’t go today) I have heard and read that it is quite an experience, with manatees often approaching you to see what going on.  While you can’t go down the scantuary area as it is gated off above the water, there are still plenty of manatees in the river to be seen.

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IF YOU GO:

Manatee Park is a quick, easy drive off of I-75.  If you’re traveling through the area on a cool day, drop on by, you’ll love what you see!  Learn more about this great family park here…

http://www.leeparks.org/pdf/Manatee_park_trifold.pdf

For more Manatee information, and to see what Florida Power and Light is doing to help these beautiful creatures, visit this…

http://www.fpl.com/environment/endangered/manatee_overview.shtml

If you would like to see Manatees in person, here is a good list of places to check out…

http://www.savethemanatee.org/places.htm

Can’t get to the coast to see Manatees yourself?  Fret not, here are some Manatee Cams to observe wild manatees in their warmer winter homes…

http://www.savethemanatee.org/cs_manatee_cams.html

Pic of the Week – 12/1

December 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, Pic of the Week | Leave a comment
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It was a chilly November morning, by Florida standards anyway. Chilly mornings are great for us animal nuts if you’re anywhere near a warm water source, the cool weather brings in the manatees! As you will see in my next story about Manatee Park, we stumbled upon a manatee party. This guy here was no exception. We spotted a lot of splashing and found some manatees goofing off. This manatee popping out of the water as he wrestled with another was a lucky shot, and my Pic of the Week.

Home At Last – Cindy the Sea Turtle’s Release

November 16, 2012 at 3:52 am | Posted in Endangered Encounters, For the Family | Leave a comment
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For my regular readers out there, you may remember this beautiful face from my recent trip to Gumbo Limbo.  Cindy, a Loggerhead Sea Turtle, had been brought to their Turtle Hospital back in July after being rescued by fishermen off of Pompano Beach.  She was the victim on a shark attack that in which she lost one of her front flippers and left the other nearly severed.  She also had bite marks on her shell and head, it was a miracle that she escaped alive.  She was in terrible shape when she was brought in and her fate was unkown.  Surgery was done on her front right flipper and it was saved, she fought off the infection, started putting on weight, and made an unbelievable recovery.  Today, 104 days after being admitted to the Turtle Hospital at Gumbo Limbo, Cindy was finally returning to her home in the Atlantic Ocean.

To say Cindy’s release drew a crowd would not do the event justice.  After all, with having spent nearly 4 months at Gumbo Limbo, she had become quite popular with a lot of families.  Young and old, all ages came out to see Cindy’s release, drawing an estimated crowd of nearly 500 people.  Everyone line up from the water up to the dunes, making a path in the middle for Cindy to head out to sea.

So how does a sea turtle make her way down to the shore?  At around 140lbs, she isn’t exactly a lightweight.  Cindy arrived to the beach by way of a baby pool on the back of a Gator.  She was driven to her path as everyone eagerly watch and waited for her to make her way.

After a brief speech by Gumbo Limbo Staff, Cindy was lifted out of the back of the Gator to be brought to the waters egde.  In the photo above, you can see Cindy’s battle wounds, the scars on her front right flipper, and you can see how close she came to losing it.  On this flipper she also sports a new piece of turtle jewlery, her ID tag.

Volunteers set Cindy at the waters edge and she knew where she was.  Cheers and applauding rang out from the crowd as she scooted herself into the water.  Upon hitting the water, she took a sharp right and swam directly at those of us who were lucky enough to be right there.  And just like that, after her brief tour of the shallow water, Cindy turned to the left and headed out to deeper water.  We watched as she crossed over the sand bar and out to sea, cheering her on.

Cindy is living proof of the great work the folks at the Gumbo Limbo Turtle Hospital are doing.  She exceeded all expectations in her recovery and today everyone’s hard work paid off – Cindy is finally home.

Who Comes Out To Play On A Cool Day – Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL

November 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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It was a chilly week here in South Florida last week!  And by chilly, I mean it was in the 60’s.  But it’s a nice change of pace for those of us here who crave cooler weather.  With the cooler weather comes more activity with wildlife, so it seemed like a good time to head out to Green Cay and see who else was out and about enjoying the beautiful day.

My first thought about the cooler weather was that surely the alligators would be out sunning themselves, keeping their cold blood warm.  Boy was I right!  There was a gator right by the boardwalk right at the first bend and their presence didn’t stop there.  All together, 7 alligators made an appearance that day.  There was one that was easily 7 feet long basking on an island as well, one swimming toward what could have potentially become a meal (we’ll get to that later), and the remaining 4 babies that hatched last year and still stick together close to their nest.

There were also several Raptors out today too.  A Red Shouldered Hawk sat perched upon a barren tree trunk, seemingly uninterested in hunting.  There was also an American Kestrel perched by the sparrow houses as if it was a birdy drive-thru.  I can’t decide if him waiting for a sparrow to come out was just unfair or incredibly genius… it seems it was a bit of both.

Also making a big appearance today were many different types of Herons.  We saw nearly all of the Heron species that call Florida home, the only one missing was the Yellow Crowned Night Heron.  The normally shy Green Herons were all over and quite active.  There were a few Little Blue Herons out as well, which are usually hit or miss here.  The always popular Great Blue Heron and Tri-Colored Herons were everywhere, as usual.  On the way out, much to my excitement, I even spotted a Black Crowned Night Heron!  This was the first time I have seen this bashful Heron, it was just calmly and quietly roosting next to the Nature Center. (Side note, I can update my Heron post now that I have photos of all Florida Heron species! Woohoo!)  To my luck, as I was driving away, I saw my second Black Crowned Night Heron… flying… almost into my windshield, but luckily we avoided a car/bird meet.

Just as numerous as the Herons were the number of Egrets.  Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Cattle Egrets seemed to be at nearly every waters edge.  While the Great Egrets were loners and doing their own thing, the Snowy and Cattle Egrets joined the flocks of Ibis who were in feeding frenzies.

The White Ibis are always very popular at Green Cay.  They’re always there and they’re usually everywhere.  So it was nice to see the Glossy Ibis thrown into the mix with them.  Of course there were nowhere near as many as the whites, but there were quite a few here.

Amongst every group of Ibis and Egrets was usually a Wood Stork.  This goofy looking bird feeds by opening its mouth in the water and waiting for prey to swim into its beak, sometimes kicking to scare small fish in that direction. (You can see this in the top picture above.)  It’s always nice to see the Wood Stork when it makes its way down for the winter.  Walking through Green Cay and seeing them nearly everywhere, it’s hard to believe this bird is federally protected as an Endangered Species.

Joining one of the flocks of feeding birds on the back side of the wetlands was a small group of Roseate Spoonbills.  All the comotion of whatever was so great to eat must have attracted some of them close to the boardwalk where we were all able to get a great view.  Dare I say it, Spoonbill sightings seem to be becoming reliable at Green Cay.  Usually, I see one flying overhead or napping somewhere far away where it’s almost difficult to recognize them, but their beautiful pink plumage gives them away every time.  This was a lucky day for me that they were so close by as the Spoonbills are probably my favorite birds to see here.  Not because of their pretty pink feathers, though that certainly does make them popular with everyone who sees them, but it’s that odd spoon shaped beak that does it for me, I can’t help but love their faces!

Also becoming an oddly reliable sighting is the family of Black Bellied Whisteling Ducks that has taken up residence here.  I always spot them on the North side of the park, usually at a distance, but every so often you get lucky and one might be literally sitting on the boardwalk waiting for you.  I will never forget the first time I saw them there – I heard their odd whisteling noise coming from one of the islands and there they were, chasing galinules all over the place.

As we were admiring the sleeping Whisteling Ducks, an Anhinga surfaced in the water next to us.  We had seen ripples in the water where it had been swimming quickly below the surface chasing a fish,  When it popped up, it had captured its lunch, and it was stuck to its beak!  After struggling for just a few seconds, the bird flipped the fish off its beak and town its throat.  The photo above with the fish mid air was a lucky catch on my part!

Luck was certainly on my side today.  Toward the back side of the park was an American Bittern out walking around.  This was another first for me, I had never seen one before.  From speaking with someone else there, they’re apparently very shy birds and don’t tend to come out into the open much, particularly around people, and usually feed by standing within the reeds with their heads up and beaks open, ready to catch their next meal.  But here he was, out for a stroll and hunting.

Winning the “Awwww” award for the day was the family of raccoons we encountered on toward the end of the walk.  A mother was out with her 3 babies and they were just as adorable as can be!  We watched them wrestle each other, pick food off of plants, and chase birds while their mother would peek out of the plants and closely watch the approaching allogator who was inching nearer and nearer.  Of course, I wasn’t about to stick around and see just how close the alligator got.  That’s something I would imagine my 2 year old son might find a little horrifying.

And so it was another beautiful day to be outside enjoying nature.  South Florida, we have some more cool weather headed our way!  Get out and enjoy it!

Return of the Wood Stork

October 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Creature Feature, Endangered Encounters | Leave a comment
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It’s late October, and while that may not mean much to us here in South Florida as we enjoy our sunny, 83* warm day outside, it does mean something to migratory wildlife.  As it cools down pretty much everywhere but here, some wildlife begins to make its way South for the winter.  One of my favorite seasonal birds is the not-so-adorable Wood Stork, who’s numbers have been increasing locally over the course of the last few weeks, with more to come I’m sure.

Though we may not realize it with the powerful numbers we see of them sometimes, the Wood Stork is in fact on the Endangered Species List, with it’s population decline most likely due to loss of habitat.  They’re a rather large bird with a bald head, the kind of face that only a mother (or bird lover) could love.  Wood Storks, the only breeding stork found here in North America, make their way down to our area every winter to breed.  True to their social nature, they nest in colonies.  The Wood Stork is a unique hunter.  They wade through the water with their beaks open and wait for prey to pass through, literally inviting small fish over for dinner.

Remember, next time you see that funky dinosaur looking face on a giant white birds body to respect these snow birds.  The species is trying to make a comeback from the threat of extinction, let’s cheer them on!

Photos taken with my Nikon D3100

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center – Boca Raton, FL

October 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, For the Family | Leave a comment
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A few weeks ago, with the unusual occurance of having some time to kill, I took my son to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton.  Even though we are just around the corner from there at least once a week, we hadn’t been since around April, so I decided it was time to go and see the newly opened tanks.  We went on a great day – the crowd was light, the tanks were beautiful, and the Turtle Hospital was open.

As usual, our first stop was the Butterfly Garden.  Even though the garden is in full bloom in the summer, there is never a shortage of butterflies here.  The Butterfly Garden is part of a trail system that will lead you through a wooded area and down to the intercoastal with a beautiful view.  If you’re lucky, you may see a manatee cruising by.

Gumbo Limbo has 4 new saltwater tanks on display – 2 shallow and 2 deep, all representing different types of Florida environments.  The two shallow water tanks show you a coastal mangrove system with an island and mangroves, and a shallow water reef.  You can expect to see tropical fish here as well as fish like needle fish and even baracuda.

Thw two deep water tanks are where all the action is at and the best views of the animals living inside.  These tanks represent a coral reef and an artificial reef.  The artificial reef is not yet complete and is expected to be getting a shipwreck later this year.  Complete or not, they’re still great fun!  From the bottom, you can get a front row seat to animals cruising by the glass.  In these tanks you’ll see colorful Parrot Fish, busy Sting Rays, lines of Lobster marching along, and a family of Sharks. (Momma is in one tank, several of her babies are in the other).  If you really want to see some action try to go around feeding time, which I believe is around 12:30.  These tanks will also become homes to Sea Turtles after completion.

Also newly opened is Gumbo Limbo’s Turtle Hospital.  This facility is equipted to take care of sick of injured Sea Turtles like “Cindy” (pictured above) who was brought to the facility back in July after a shark attack nearly severed her front right flipper and fishermen found her injured.  Surgery managed to save what was left.  Along with Cindy are other turtles being treated for entanglement and injuries caused by boats.  These turtles are a good lesson to us all to be more mindful and clean up after ourselves.  Turtles easily confuse plastic bags with their delicacy of jelly fish, litter is obviously very dangerous to them.

Just around the corner from the Turtle Hospital is another endangered animal in a shell, Gumbo Limbo’s resident Gopher Tortoises.  Here, guests have a chance to see the normally rather shy tortoise up close in a natural habitat made for them amongst the boardwalk area leading to the tanks and FAU classrooms.  If you come at snack time, you’ll be sure to see them.  Otherwise, look into the burrows, there’s usually somebody home.

IF YOU GO:

Learn more about Gumbo Limbo and the wonderful things they do here… http://www.gumbolimbo.org/Home

While this is a free place to visit, be a greatful visitor and throw them a donation.  They take care of a lot of critters, help them out.

There are also lots of things for the kids to do inside the nature center itself as well as a boardwalk that has an observation tower and also leads to part of Red Reef Park.  There is no picnicing at Gumbo Limbo, but you’re more than welcome to make the walk to Red Reef Park to picnic there.  Just remember, don’t feed the animals.

Please be respectful of the animals and keep the new tanks looking new, don’t tap on the glass.  Noise is much louder in water, it really can frighten the animals.

ENJOY!

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