Happy New Year from Florida!

Ring-Billed Gull

Ring-Billed Gull

Sebastian Beach, Florida

Sebastian Beach, Florida

Cannonball Jellyfish

Cannonball Jellyfish

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Happy New Year!  Warm wishes for a year ahead filled with peace, beauty, and joy.

Florida: Let’s Have Fun!

Walking on Sebastian Beach

Walking on Sebastian Beach

Watching Terns and Skimmers Flying

Watching Terns and Skimmers Flying

Boating on the Indian River Lagoon

Boating on the Indian River Lagoon

Sitting on the Dock at Dusk

Sitting on the Dock at Dusk

Designing our Personal Postcard

Designing our Personal Postcard

♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫

Oh the weather is so delightful,

For Flo-ri-da we’re thankful.

Things to do, we can’t pick just one,

Let’s have fun, let’s have fun, let’s have fun.

♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫

 

Florida: Port Canaveral and Jetty Park Beach

Back View of Iridescent "Sail" of Exploration Tower

Back View of Iridescent “Sail” of Exploration Tower

Exploration Tower Entrance

Exploration Tower Entrance

Top of Exploration Tower

Top of Exploration Tower

Exploration Tower at Sunset

Exploration Tower at Sunset

Color Wand Lit Path Around Tower

Color Wand Lit Path Around Tower

Exploration Tower at Night

Exploration Tower at Night

View of Port Canaveral from Top of Tower

View of Port Canaveral from Top of Tower

Recycled Art in Tower Atrium

Recycled Art in Tower Atrium

Recycled Glass Jellyfish in Atrium

Recycled Glass Jellyfish in Atrium

Recycled Glass Mobile

Recycled Glass Mobile

Ron Jon Surfboard Display in Tower

Ron Jon Surfboard Display in Tower

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Departure

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Departure

Jetty Park's Wide Sandy Beach

Jetty Park’s Wide Sandy Beach

Kitty Cat Drawing on Sand

Kitty Cat Drawing on Sand

Jetty Park's Long Fishing Pier

Jetty Park’s Long Fishing Pier

Sea Turtle by Fishing Pier

Sea Turtle by Fishing Pier

Dolphin Swimming by Pier

Dolphin Swimming by Pier

Seagull and Waves at Sunset

Seagull and Waves at Sunset

Seagulls Flying Overhead

Seagulls Flying Overhead

Vintage Poster of Jetty Park

Vintage Poster of Jetty Park

If you visit Central Florida, be sure to stop by Port Canaveral and Jetty Park near Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Exploration Tower acts as a Welcome Center for the area. The building opened in November 2013, and is meant to evoke the image of a sailing ship. The architecture is stunning, especially at night. From the tower’s 7th floor Observation Deck there is a bird’s eye view of Port Canaveral, Jetty Park, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and NASA to the north. It is an excellent place to view rocket launches (check schedule at: http://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/).  Info about visiting the tower is at:  http://www.explorationtower.com/.

A fun thing to do is to watch the cruise ships go out to sea. They exit the port past Jetty Park, with people waving and cheering all the way. Popular times to watch are Thursday and Sunday afternoons around 4 pm (a full schedule of departures and arrivals is at: https://www.portcanaveral.com/Cruise/Cruise-Lines-Schedules.  Port Canaveral was named America’s Best North American Cruise Port in 2015 by CruiseCritic.com.  The ship “Carla C” that inspired the TV show “The Love Boat” visited the Port in 1979.

Jetty Park’s wide sandy beach is especially nice for families. It is popular year round. If you walk onto the fishing pier, be sure to look for manatees, dolphins, and sea turtles in the water below. You’ll probably see egrets and pelicans “fishing” too. And don’t forget to bring bread to feed the seagulls – it is a family favorite. More info about visiting Port Canaveral is at: http://visitportcanaveral.com/.   Details about Jetty Park Beach and Campground are at:  https://www.portcanaveral.com/jpc  and  https://www.portcanaveral.com/Recreation/Jetty-Park-Beach-Pier

Florida: Colorful Giant Land Crabs

Overview of Colorful Land Crab

Overview of Colorful Land Crab

Side View Showing Blue Land Crab’s Giant Claw

Side View Showing Blue Land Crab’s Giant Claw

Female Land Crab Carrying Eggs

Female Land Crab Carrying Eggs

Five Land Crabs Walking

Five Land Crabs Walking

Group of Land Crabs Crossing Sandy Road

Group of Land Crabs Crossing Sandy Road

Side View of Colorful Land Crab

Side View of Colorful Land Crab

Very Colorful Land Crab

Very Colorful Land Crab

Blue Land Crab under Stump

Blue Land Crab under Stump

White Land Crab (probably female)

White Land Crab (probably female)

Two-Inch Long Juvenile Land Crab (claw almost as big as body)

Two-Inch Long Juvenile Land Crab (claw almost as big as body)

Very Young Land Crab (too small to pinch)

Very Young Land Crab (too small to pinch)

Summer and early Fall are the best time to see colorful giant land crabs in Florida. They live along the Atlantic coast from Central to Southern Florida, and are also found along the Gulf coast. We usually see them around the time of the full moon in August and September in the Sebastian/Vero Beach area. Giant blue land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) like to live in wet sandy burrows, and need to be within 5 miles of the ocean to spawn. Only one in a million eggs survives to adulthood. The distinctive brown “fuzz” around the mouth parts of land crabs is actually a net-like pattern of hairs. It works in conjunction with the internal gills to help them “breathe” while on land. Both male and female adult land crabs have one claw bigger than the other.  The crabs can grow up to 6 inches across, and come in a variety of colors including blue, purple, red, orange, brown, and white.  More info about the life history of these fascinating crabs is at: http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/blue-crabs/life-cycle/

Florida: Manatee Love

Manatee Swimming Offshore Sebastian Beach

Manatee Swimming Offshore Sebastian Beach

Manatee Mating Herd in Shallow Water

Manatee Mating Herd in Shallow Water

Mating Manatees (3 males and 1 female)

Mating Manatees (3 males and 1 female)

Manatee Named "Barney"

Manatee Named “Barney”

Sebastian Inlet Bridge

Sebastian Inlet Bridge

In Florida, manatee mating activity peaks in spring and early summer. When wildlife societies receive calls about beached manatees this time of year, they explain that it is natural behavior and manatee love is in the air. A female manatee will usually be pursued by several males into shallow water, and that forms a mating herd.  Florida’s West Indian manatee is an endangered species, so it is a real privilege to witness such an event. Best of all, a baby manatee will arrive a year later! At Sebastian Inlet State Park today, we saw 8 manatees off the pier in the ocean, and a mating herd of 4 on the lagoon side.  A manatee named “Barney” swam beside the jetty (named by surfers for the barnacles on his skin). 

Florida Beach in Winter

Sebastian Beach Waves

Sebastian Beach Waves

Scotch Bonnet Shell

Scotch Bonnet Shell

Fishing Jetty

Fishing Jetty

Tidal Cove

Tidal Cove

9 Armed Sea Star

9 Armed Sea Star

Willet Eating a Crab

Willet Eating a Crab

Snowy Egret (notice the bright yellow feet)

Snowy Egret (notice the bright yellow feet)

Black Skimmers and Beach Sunflowers

Black Skimmers and Beach Sunflowers

Royal Terns (male displaying to unimpressed female on right)

Royal Terns (male displaying to unimpressed female on right)

Herring Gull Sleeping

Herring Gull Sleeping

Florida beaches are delightful in winter.  Occasionally a sweater is needed, but otherwise it is great weather for being outside and walking on the sand.  These pictures were taken at Sebastian Inlet State Park on Florida’s central Atlantic coast (east of Orlando).

Beautiful White Pelicans

White Pelican Swimming

White Pelican Swimming

White Pelican Wing Stretch

White Pelican Wing Stretch

White Pelican Pouch and Knob on  Bill

White Pelican Pouch and Knob on Bill

White Pelican Flying

White Pelican Flying

Flock of White Pelicans Soaring

Flock of White Pelicans Soaring

White pelicans are one of North America’s largest birds.  Their 9 foot wingspan is second only to the American Condor.  They are true snow birds – they spend winter along our southern coasts and head inland and north in summer.  During nesting season, they grow temporary knobs on their bills and have bright yellow around their eyes.  They feed by dipping their pouches into the water, and sometimes work together to corral and scoop up fish.  It is always a treat to see these magnificent birds!

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