Florida: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Brick Path

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Brick Path

Spiral Stairs

Spiral Stairs

Lens Room

Lens Room

Light Beacon Inside Fresnel Lens

Light Beacon Inside Fresnel Lens

Jupiter Inlet Ocean View

Jupiter Inlet Ocean View

Jupiter Inlet Bridge View

Jupiter Inlet Bridge View

Antique Postcard of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

Antique Postcard of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was first lit in 1860.  It was built to warn ships of the reefs offshore Jupiter, Florida.  The 108-foot tower sits on top of an ancient Indian shell mound.  The view from the top is quite scenic!  A live inlet beach webcam is at:  http://www.evsjupiter.com/main.htm

Blowing Rocks Preserve: Dramatic Salt Spray Plumes Today

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 1

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 1

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 2

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 2

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 3

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 3

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 4

Blowing Rocks Salt Spray 4

Blowing Rocks Nature Sign

Blowing Rocks Nature Sign

Wind and high tide brought spectacular salt spray plumes today to Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island, Florida.  In fact, it was hard not to get a bit wet!  We had been so excited by a recent visit that we had to return again for more photography.

Florida: Blowing Rocks Preserve

Sea Grape Tunnel Path to Beach

Sea Grape Tunnel Path to Beach

Blowing Rocks Beach

Blowing Rocks Beach

Blowing Rocks Fountain of Salt Spray

Blowing Rocks Fountain of Salt Spray

Blowing Rocks Anastasia Limestone

Blowing Rocks Anastasia Limestone

Blowing Rocks Blowholes

Blowing Rocks Blowholes

Blowing Rocks Beach Sign

Blowing Rocks Beach Sign

Blowing Rocks Preserve has the longest and most dramatic stretch of rocky coastline in Florida.  This preserve on Jupiter Island contains a rock terrace at the water’s edge of Anastasia limestone that is tinted red with iron.  During high tide or stormy seas, waves pound the eroded terrace and “blow” through holes in the rock.  Salt spray plumes can reach up to 50 feet in the air!  

Jupiter Beach: So Many Seashells!

Jupiter Beach Shell-Covered Shoreline

Jupiter Beach Shell-Covered Shoreline

Jupiter Beach Rock and Shells Long Exposure

Jupiter Beach Rock and Shells Long Exposure

Jupiter Beach Shell Layer

Jupiter Beach Shell Layer

Our Collection of Shells

Our Collection of Shells

Recently we visited Jupiter Beach, Florida.  Conditions had been perfect for shells to wash in.  Seashells we found included hawk-wing conch, lettered olives, lion’s paw shells, slipper shells, scallops, shark’s eye shells, bonnets, augers, murex, turkey wing shells, jingle shells, bittersweet clams, spiny jewelbox, giant cockles, and angel wing shells.  Coral had washed in too.  It’s amazing to think of all the sea life offshore.  We can’t wait to go back!

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park: Peach Beach!

Peach Beach

Sanderlings on Peach Beach

Sanderlings Group

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is located south of St. Augustine, Florida. The eastern coastal side of the park is famous for its Peach Beach. The color of the sand comes from iron in the soil.  We are looking forward to a future visit at low tide so that we can photograph the beach’s picturesque coquina rock.

Perfect Florida Beach Day

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Seagull Flying

Ghost Crab and Shells

Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle

What a difference a few days make!  Florida beaches are back to normal – gentle waves, plenty of shells, brilliant blue skies, and lots of warm sunshine.

Hurricane Sandy: Blustery Beach Day in Florida

High Surf at Sebastian Inlet Pier

Waves with Wind-Blown Spray

Sea Beans Collected Today at Sebastian Beach

Although Hurricane Sandy passed far east of Florida’s Atlantic coast, the storm still brought high surf and wind to Sebastian Inlet today. The waves washed in lots of sea beans from the Caribbean.

Sea Grapes are Delicious!

Sea Grape Tree

Sea Grape Tree

Great Egret on Sea Grapes

Great Egret on Sea Grapes

Close-up of Back Lit Sea Grape Leaf

Close-up of Back Lit Sea Grape Leaf

Sea Grape Jelly

Sea Grape Leaf Turtle

Sea Grape Leaf Turtle

Sea grapes are growing quickly now in Florida.  In late summer and early Fall the fruit ripens and turns purple.  Grapes can then be eaten raw, or used to make jelly or wine.  A recipe for sea grape jelly is at:  https://www.visitsarasota.com/blog/authentic-florida-sarasota-sea-grape-jelly

Tourists in the 1930s used the sea grape’s thick leathery leaves to write postcards.  Today people use the fallen leaves for art, plates, wreaths, or even to make dresses for a fashion show!  This native plant is so important for beach stabilization and wildlife that it is protected by law.

Brevard County, Florida: Best Sea Turtle Nesting Site!

Loggerhead Sea Turtle at Florida Aquarium

Sea Turtle Species in Brevard County, Florida (poster at Barrier Island Sanctuary)

Sea Turtle Migration Map

Sea Turtle Migration Map

Sea Turtle Eggs Needed to Sustain Population

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Laying Eggs (poster at Barrier Island Sanctuary)

Graphic of Sea Turtle Nest and Its Developing Eggs

Unhatched Sea Turtle Egg Washed Out onto Sebastian Beach by Tropical Storm

Mother Loggerhead Sea Turtle Returning to Sea after Egg-Laying (taken without flash or lights during a guided sea turtle walk)

Sea Turtle Tracks at Sebastian Beach

Turtle Track Signs in the Sand

Marked Sea Turtle Nest at Canaveral National Seashore

Sea Turtle Hatchling at Sebastian Beach

Sea Turtle Hatchling at Sebastian Beach

Rehabilitated Sea Turtle Ready for Release

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Swimming Beside Jetty Park Pier

Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge: Sanctuary for Sea Turtles

We  live only 5 miles (as the crow flies) from the best loggerhead sea turtle  nesting beach in the Western hemisphere, and the second best in the world!   Nesting totals so far this year at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in  Brevard/Indian River Counties are as follows:  11,841 recorded loggerhead nests, 962  endangered green turtle nests, and 49 endangered leatherback nests (these  massive turtles can weigh a ton).  Nesting density here between Melbourne and Wabasso can reach up to 1,000 nests per mile!

Female loggerheads reach maturity at 35 years of age.  At that point she will begin laying 4  egg clutches per season every 2 or 3 years on the same beach where she was  born.  Each nest will contain 100-125  soft rubbery eggs that look like ping-pong balls.  She will haul herself onto the beach at  night to begin the long process of laying her eggs (it can take hours).  She must never be disturbed while  nesting, because otherwise she will abandon her nest and drop her eggs in the  ocean.  Special guided sea turtle  walks are permitted under strict supervision and can be scheduled in June and  July in Brevard County at:  https://seaturtlespacecoast.org/  and   https://conserveturtles.org/barrier-island-center-educational-programs/             

Sea  turtle flipper tracks look like tire treads and are easy to spot on the beach  during the day.  A guide to flipper tracks is at:  https://myfwc.com/media/11936/crawlidentificationguidelines.pdf   These distinctive tracks help scientists mark  and protect the nests.  Hatchlings  emerge about 2 months after egg-laying.  Gender is a function of temperature – the warmer the sand, the more  likely the eggs will become female.  In general the baby sea turtles emerge from the sand at night and head  toward the sea’s bright horizon.  No  distracting lights of any kind are permitted on the beaches here at night in  summer  – it keeps the baby turtles safe.  After reaching the water, the baby  turtles spend the first few years living in the relative safety of the seaweed  in the Sargasso Sea.  Later they spend time in near-shore waters and on migration in the Atlantic Ocean. 

When needed, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society performs local sea  turtle rescue and rehabilitation.  For rescue 24/7 call 321-206-0646 and someone will call you back:  https://seaturtlespacecoast.org/

Detailed loggerhead sea turtle information is at:  https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/loggerhead-turtle

Kids’ info is at: https://games.noaa.gov/seaturtle/links.html

And  an especially interesting color night-vision time-lapse video of nesting sea  turtles in Florida is at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Yqx24Qqx5M

2015 UPDATE:  Totals and statistics for the 20 miles of beach in southern Brevard County’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge for the 2015 sea turtle nesting season include the following:  (1) first nest was April 13;  (2) last nest was September 20;  (3) highest number of nests on one day was 264; (4) total number of nests was 11,541; (5) estimated number of eggs laid was 1,248,051 (!); and (6) estimated number of hatchlings reaching the ocean was 1,008,828.  Wow! 

2016 UPDATE:  Final sea turtle nesting totals at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge on August 27, 2016 were:  Loggerhead – 20,411; Green – 1,678; Leatherback – 72, and Kemp’s Ridley – 1.

2017 UPDATE:  Nest count through September 30, 2017 were:   Loggerhead – 15,921; Green – 18,031; Leatherback – 29, and Kemp’s Ridley – 0; Hawksbill (possibly hybrid with Loggerhead) – 1.  Unfortunately Hurricane Irma wiped out a significant number of nests.  

Florida Sea Beans: Hamburger Beans, Sea Pearls, and More

Hamburger Beans

Hamburger Beans

Sea Purse

Sea Purse

Sea Pearls

Sea Pearls

Sea Pearls (Nickernuts) in Fresh Pod

Sea Pearls (Nickernuts) in Fresh Pod

Sea Almonds

Sea Almonds

Coin Vine Seeds

Coin Vine Seeds

Blister Pods

Blister Pods

Bristly Porcupine Seed

Bristly Porcupine Seed

African Oil Palm Seed

African Oil Palm Seed

Antidote Vine Seed

Antidote Vine Seed

Sea Coconuts

Sea Coconuts

Sea Coconuts in Pod

Sea Coconuts in Pod

Tropical Walnuts

Tropical Walnuts

Australian Pinecones

Australian Pinecones

Crabwood Seed Pod

Crabwood Seed Pod

Mahoe Seed

Mahoe Seed

Overcup Oak Acorn

Screw Pine Seed

Screw Pine Seed

Thorns and Protrusions of Tropical Trees

Thorns and Protrusions of Tropical Trees

Sea Hearts

Sea Hearts

Ruddy Turnstone beside Coconut

Fibrous Coconut

Florida’s Atlantic coast is an excellent place to find sea beans, because the Gulf Stream carries the seeds north from the tropics.  One of my favorite sea beans is the hamburger bean – it looks just like a mini-hamburger!  The cute sea purse is also known as the saddle bean, and can be polished to make beautiful jewelry.  Sea Pearls are gray, and are used worldwide for medicine, jewelry, and as marbles.  The Sea Almond is one of our most common drift seeds; it is especially abundant in Fall.  The coin vine has seeds that resemble pennies.  The Blister Pod is bumpy because there are air pockets inside the bean.  The rare prickly porcupine seed is named for its spiny appearance.  African oil palm seeds are harvested from plantations in Costa Rica to produce cooking oil.  Antidote vine seeds are members of the squash family.  Sea coconuts are the size of golf balls and look like coconuts inside.  The mother palms grow in immense numbers at the mouth of the Amazon.  Tropical walnuts look very similar to our North American walnuts.  Australian pinecones are very tiny and can even drop locally from trees in Florida (the mother plant is not a pine, but a member of the casuarina family).  Crabwood seeds are especially distinctive for their triangular appearance.  Mahoe seeds are from trees in the hibiscus (mallow) family.  Overcup oak acorns are from a tree known as the Swamp Oak (the cup of the acorn almost entirely covers the seed).  Screw pine seeds are sometimes used as a paintbrush.  Sometimes you can get lucky and find corky or hard thorns and protrusions from tropical trees in the sea wrack.  Sea hearts are always a favorite of everyone, and sometimes lots of coconuts can be found washed up on the sand.  It is really fun to walk on the beach, because you never know what you will see!  Click on any of the above pictures to enlarge. 

More info on sea beans is at:  http://www.seabean.com/   An excellent guidebook on sea beans is “Sea-Beans from the Tropics:  A Collector’s Guide to Sea-Beans and Other Tropical Drift on Atlantic Shores” by Ed Perry IV and John V. Dennis, original print 2003.  An annual International Sea-Bean Symposium is held in Cocoa Beach, Florida, every other October.  More info is at:  http://www.seabean.com/symposium/

Florida Sea Beans: Coconuts and Sea Coconuts

Coconut Collected on Florida Atlantic Beach

Sea Coconuts Collected on Florida Atlantic Beach

It’s a real treat to find a huge coconut on the beach.  If you shake it, you might hear fresh coconut milk inside.  Coconuts can easily travel thousands of miles across the ocean, and have been documented floating for over 30 years!  If you wish to plant a coconut, drill a hole 1/8 inch deep so that fresh water can get inside for the seed to sprout.  Sea Coconuts look like brown golf balls and are also edible.  These  “miniature coconuts” come from palm trees at the mouth of the Amazon.  These trees have 30 foot leaves – among the largest in the world!  Notice how one of the Sea Coconuts floated for so long that it has barnacles growing on it.

Florida Sea Beans: Sea Hearts

Sea Heart Collected on Florida Atlantic Beach

One of the most sought-after sea beans by beachcombers is the Sea Heart. This large flat shiny bean comes from the monkey ladder vine in the American Tropics. Each seed pod is up to 6 feet long and contains up to 15 beans! Although only a few Sea Hearts have a perfect shape, it is always considered good luck to find this special bean. Sea Hearts have traditionally been used to make lockets and toys. An interesting article is at:  https://www2.palomar.edu/users/warmstrong/plmay97.htm

Florida Beach Surprise: Plastic Pigs at Sebastian Inlet

Sebastian Beach, Florida

Sebastian Beach, Florida

Beachcombing Find: White Piggy Bank from Cuba

Beachcombing Find: White Piggy Bank from Cuba

Beachcombing Find: Blue Piggy Bank from Guatemala (looking right)

Beachcombing Find: Blue Piggy Bank from Guatemala (looking right)

Beachcombing Find: Blue Piggy Bank from Guatemala (looking left)

Beachcombing Find: Blue Piggy Bank from Guatemala (looking left)

Sea Pigs Poster

Sea Pigs Poster

June 2, 2012

Last Fall we found a white piggy bank washed in near Sebastian Inlet. After cleaning, the pig’s cute features became visible – she has little flowers, hearts, and horseshoes on her body, a barrette on her head, and a smile on her face. So adorable! Even more impressive is her journey. I got the complete story from Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer at the Sea Bean Festival. This little pig probably floated away from Cuba around 1993-1994. She likely spent many years in the Sargasso Sea, before riding an ocean current to Sebastian Inlet.  Imagine her journey – she must have bobbed on the waves past sea turtles, fish, and dolphins!  Everything at the beach has its own special story.

Update:  December 16, 2012

We found another plastic piggy bank washed in near Sebastian Inlet!  This new pig is blue and is from Guatemala (according to writing on the bottom that says Codeplasa).  He has a soccer ball with stars on one side, and a baseball with stars on the other.  He is also wearing a sports hat.  Apparently he has been riding the waves for quite some time, because his little ears and feet all have fish bites on them!

A link to newsletters that contain a history of plastic pigs that have washed onto beaches throughout the Caribbean,  Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic is at:  http://www.seabean.com/newsletters/  [select Vol. 8(3): Dec 2002 and Vol. 10(1): May 2004].   Or just click on the link below (and once again) to see a copy of those newsletters and an Instagram post in December 2017 about a blue plastic pig that washed onto a beach in Oahu, Hawaii.

Click Here for Sea Pig Articles

 

 

Florida: Caspersen Beach and Shark’s Teeth

Caspersen Beach: Rocky Shoreline

Caspersen Beach: Pelicans Diving for Fish

Caspersen Beach: Fossil Seashells in Rocks Along Shore

Caspersen Beach: Fossilized Shark’s Teeth & Fish Vertebrae Collected Years Ago

Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida (south of Tampa) is famous for its fossilized shark’s teeth.  Venice is known as the “Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World”.  Years ago you could find handfuls of shark’s teeth as you walked along the shore; now you have to put an effort into finding them. Some people even use specialized scoops bought in local gift shops to find shark’s teeth in the water.  An annual shark’s tooth festival is held in Venice every April:  http://www.sharkstoothfest.com/.    An excellent article about the Venice area and shark’s teeth is at:  https://authenticflorida.com/articles/enjoy-the-thrill-of-discovering-shark-teeth/  Shark tooth identification is at:  http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/evolution/guide_f.htm

Florida: Blind Pass Beach

Blind Pass Beach: Colorful Umbrellas

Blind Pass Beach: Shoreline

Blind Pass Beach: Shells Along Tideline

Blind Pass Beach: Our Recently Collected Shells

Blind Pass Beach: Snowy Egret

Blind Pass Beach: Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Blind Pass Beach is a quiet peaceful beach in Sarasota County (north of Sanibel/Fort Myers). It is an absolutely beautiful place for a walk on the Gulf Coast – the color of the water is incredible! Once you leave the entrance area, you practically have the beach to yourself. We found lots of pretty shells, and saw some great birds too!

Florida: Sebastian Inlet

Sebastian Inlet Recreation Area, Florida

Pelicans Hoping for a Handout from Fisherman

Banded Brown Pelicans on Fishing Pavilion Roof

Banded Brown Pelicans on Fishing Pavilion Roof

Sand Dollar and Sea Fan on Sebastian Beach

Sea Glass on Sebastian Beach

Sebastian Inlet is a beautiful place to visit in Florida.  By April many species of fish (including sea trout, snook, and redfish) have left the inner grass beds of the Indian River Lagoon to feast at the mouth of the inlet.  At the same time king mackerel pass by the inlet on their way north for the summer.  Sea birds come to feast on the fish and nest in the mangroves.  If you see a bird that is banded, you can look it up at the Florida Shorebird Alliance website:  http://flshorebirdalliance.org/resources/banded-birds.aspx  

Sebastian Inlet is a wonderful place for fishing, birdwatching, and beachcombing.

Shimmering Rainbow Comb Jellies

Comb Jelly Close-Up

Comb jellies live in the Indian River Lagoon near our home in Florida.  They are a highlight of bioluminescent kayak tours in winter.  The comb jellies’ shimmering rainbow colors are amazing!

Florida: Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island Beach

Honeymoon Island State Park (north of Tampa) is an idyllic place for a walk on the beach.  The park got its name from a contest for newlyweds by Life Magazine in 1939 (winning couples won a 2-week stay on the island).  The park is famous for its beaches, birds, and seashells.

 

Florida: Ponte Vedra Beach

Wide Ponte Vedra Beach

Ponte Vedra Beach Dunes

Ponte Vedra Crockery Shard on Coquina Shells

Ponte Vedra Beach (north of St. Augustine) is amazingly wide! It is a gorgeous pristine beach with “sand” made up of crushed coquina shells. The 30 foot sand dunes are among the tallest in Florida. On top of all that, we found sea glass – an antique piece of crockery from a ship long ago.

Florida Beach View and Sandgrains

Florida - Sebastian Beach

It’s so relaxing to spend a day at the beach.  Each place has its own character and unique kind of sand.  An excellent website with pictures of sandgrains of the world is at:  http://sandgrains.com/Sand-Grains-Gallery.html

Sanderlings Running at the Beach

Sanderling on Florida Beach

Sanderling Running with the Waves

Sanderlings are so cute to watch at the beach.  They run back and forth with the ocean waves as they search for food.

Live Lightning Whelk

Lightning Whelk Shell

Lightning Whelk Underside with Operculum

Recently I found a live lightning whelk at low tide at Sebastian Inlet. These impressive shells can get up to 16 inches long, and live 10-20 years! Notice how the opening is on the left side.  Most shells open on the right, so Native Americans considered this one extra special.

Seashell Valentine

Seashell Valentine Heart

This picture shows a valentine heart made from Florida seashells.

%d bloggers like this: