Noisy Fish

Sausalito Marina

Sausalito Marina

Sausalito (north of San Francisco) is famous for its humming toadfish.  In July and August the fish create quite a din under houseboats in the marina.  Each mating call is droned in perfect A flat for at least an hour at a time.  Toadfish hum, growl, and grunt by vibrating the muscles above their swim bladders at 6,000 times per minute – twice the speed of a hummingbird’s wings!  A funny article about a Humming Toadfish Festival there in 1989 is at:  http://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/26/us/sausalito-journal-voice-of-the-turtle-no-toadfish-love-song.html

Fish have disturbed residents in other places too, such as black drum in Cape Coral, Florida, and cusk eel in Block Island, Rhode Island.  Each time it happens, residents express disbelief that fish could possibly make that much noise!  A delightful article with sound links of various fish is at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/science/08fish.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1    Another link with a drop-down box to sounds in the sea is at:  http://www.dosits.org/audio/marineinvertebrates/snappingshrimp/?CFID=4294156&CFTOKEN=80301649\

Fantasea the Manatee Mermaid

Fantasea the Manatee

Fantasea the Manatee

Fantasea's Seashell Hat

Fantasea’s Seashell Hat

Fantasea's Seashell Tail

Fantasea’s Seashell Tail

Fantasea's Delightful Portrait

Fantasea’s Delightful Portrait

Fantasea the Manatee greets travelers at Melbourne International Airport, Florida.  She was created as part of a series of manatee statues called “Sea Cows on Parade” to promote awareness and conservation of Florida’s manatees.  A sign beside her says, “Fantasea the Manatee, the mermaid of the sea, beckons you to live your dreams, and swim away with me”.

Star Shapes in Nature

Purple Pacific Sea Star

Purple Pacific Sea Star

Purple Hibiscus

Purple Hibiscus

Orange Pacific Sea Star

Orange Pacific Sea Star

Stapeliad "Starfish" Flower

Stapeliad “Starfish” Flower

Orange Bat Stars

Orange Bat Stars

Mickey Mouse Vine

Mickey Mouse Vine

Pink Bat Star

Pink Bat Star

Marsh Pink Flower

Marsh Pink Flower

Mottled Bat Star

Mottled Bat Star

Morning Glory Flower

Morning Glory Flower

Recently I saw a flower that got me thinking about the 5-point star pattern in nature.  Besides the obvious starfish in the sea, I’ve noticed the star pattern frequently in flowers.  How many “stars” have you seen today?

Point Lobos: Harbor Seals at China Cove

View of Seals at China Cove from Bird Island Trail

View of Seals at China Cove from Bird Island Trail

Mother and Baby Harbor Seals on Beach

Mother and Baby Harbor Seals on Beach

Harbor Seals Swimming

Harbor Seals Swimming

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve (near Monterey, California) is an excellent place to view wildlife.  Hikers on Bird Island Trail can see mother and baby harbor seals on the beach at China Cove every spring.  The patterns of spots on each seal are unique and do not change over time.  A fun fact is that harbor seals can sleep underwater.  

California: Scenic Jalama Beach

Jalama Beach

Jalama Beach

Travertine Onyx Sedimentary Rock

Travertine Onyx Sedimentary Rock

Beautiful Rock Patterns

Beautiful Rock Patterns

Pacific Sea Star

Pacific Sea Star

Orange Club Sea Squirts and Old Growth Kelp

Orange Club Sea Squirts and Old Growth Kelp

Feather Boa Kelp, Giant Kelp, and Surf Grass

Feather Boa Kelp, Giant Kelp, and Surf Grass

Vineyard Entrance Sign and Agave with Massive Flower Stalks

Vineyard Entrance Sign and Agave with Massive Flower Stalks

Mercedes-Benz Car Commercial Being Filmed

Recently we visited Jalama Beach (north of Santa Barbara, California).  The geology of the area is very interesting.  Walking along the beach it is possible to see sandstone, travertine onyx, and agates.  On a super lucky day you might even see petrified whale bone or fossilized fish.  Naturally-occurring black tar coats a few of the rocks on the beach.  It seeps from oil–bearing rocks along fault lines of the Miocene Monterey Formation.  The seeps can be both onshore (La Brea Tar Pits) and offshore, and are a source for oil and gas production in Southern California.  In the past, native Chumash people used the tar to waterproof their boats.  We saw lots of sea life on the beach, including dozens of starfish, a clump of orange club sea squirts, and several kinds of seaweed.  The road to Jalama Beach (west of Solvang) winds through rolling hills past several wineries.  The landscape is so beautiful that we were momentarily delayed while a Mercedes-Benz C250 car commercial was being filmed in the area!

Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola)

Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Closeup of Ocean Sunfish

Closeup of Ocean Sunfish

Monterey Bay Aquarium occasionally has an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) on display in the Open Sea Exhibit.  These fantastic fish have fins at the top and bottom, and a flattened tail at the back.  They can get up to 10 feet long and weigh over 5,000 pounds.  They increase their weight by 60 million times over their lifetime!  Fast growth means that each ocean sunfish at the aquarium is only on display for about a year.  At that point the fish must be airlifted out of the tank by helicopter to its freedom in Monterey Bay.  Adult females can produce over one million eggs per spawning season!

Ocean sunfish are related to pufferfish, and feast on jellyfish in the deep ocean.  After diving they like to float sideways at the surface, basking in the warmth of the sun. They are famous for being very curious and approaching divers, and are found in temperate and tropical waters worldwide.  More info is at: http://www.oceansunfish.org/index.php

Monterey Bay Aquarium: An All-Time Favorite!

Monterey Bay Aquarium Entrance

Monterey Bay Aquarium Entrance

Open Seas Exhibit

Open Seas Exhibit

Sardines in Kelp Forest

Sardines in Kelp Forest

Grass Rockfish

Grass Rockfish

Pacific Marine Life

Pacific Marine Life

Strawberry Anemone

Strawberry Anemone

Pacific Seahorse

Pacific Seahorse

Leafy Sea Dragon

Leafy Sea Dragon

Blue Spotted Jelly

Blue Spotted Jelly

Sea Nettles

Sea Nettles

Back Deck Overlooking Pacific

Back Deck Overlooking Pacific

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the world!  It is a place that we return to again and again.  It is mesmerizing watching the sea creatures on display.  A wonderful quote at the aquarium says “The sea is as near as we come to another world”.  I highly recommend a visit – it never fails to impress.  More info about the aquarium is at:  http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/ 

More of our posts and pictures on the Monterey Bay Aquarium are at:  http://winegarpics.com/category/california/northern-california/monterey-bay-area/monterey-bay-aquarium/   

Info on a surreal and fascinating jellyfish new to science found in 2016 near the Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the ocean) is at:  http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/news/2016/05/video-surreal-deep-sea-jellyfish-near-mariana-trench

Dolphins Call Each Other by Name!

Wild Dolphin Pair

Wild Dolphin Pair

Wild Dolphin Surfacing

Wild Dolphin Surfacing

A new study published in Discovery News says that dolphins call each other by name! Researchers found that each dolphin has a signature whistle that acts as a name. When separated, dolphins use that whistle to search out and call for the missing dolphin. The complete article is at: (http://news.discovery.com/animals/whales-dolphins/dolphins-call-each-other-by-name-130219.htm).

The attached pictures show wild dolphins at Monkey Mia, Australia (north of Perth). Researchers there have been continuously studying dolphins for over 30 years. The dolphins are famous because they are the only ones in the world known to use tools!

The dolphins carry basket sponges on their beaks, and use them to probe for food on the sea bottom. This technique has been passed down from mother to offspring for at least 180 years. Although tool-using dolphins tend to be solitary and make up only 5% of the population, the latest research says that these “nose-wearing spongers” simply prefer the company of other “spongers”. Fascinating!

More info is at: http://www.sharkbay.org/Monkey_Mia_dolphins.aspx and
http://www.livescience.com/21989-dolphin-sponge-tools-culture.html

Snooty – World’s Oldest Manatee!

Snooty and Coconut

Snooty and Coconut

Snooty Sign at Museum


Snooty Sign at Museum

Snooty is the world’s oldest manatee – he is 64 years old! Snooty was born on July 21, 1948, and lives at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton. Snooty is doing very well, and “corresponds” with children across the country. We enjoyed seeing Snooty play with a coconut.
More info is at: http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/TheAquarium/SnootyFacts.aspx
Snooty’s live cam is at: http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/TheAquarium/SnootyCam.aspx

Sad Update:  Snooty died in a tragic aquarium accident just after celebrating his 69th birthday in July 2017.  

Sea Glass Christmas Cards

Sea Glass Christmas Tree Card

Sea Glass Christmas Tree Card

Sea Glass and Sea Shell Christmas Tree Card

Sea Glass and Sea Shell Christmas Tree Card

Here are Christmas greeting cards that I designed made with sea glass we collected in California, and sea shells we collected in Florida. Happy Holidays!

Florida: Marineland

Marineland 1938 Sign

Marineland 1938 Sign

Vintage Dolphin Statue

Vintage Dolphin Statue

Vintage Dolphin Wall of Fudge Kitchen

Vintage Dolphin Wall of Fudge Kitchen

Vintage Neptune Statue

Vintage Neptune Statue

Vintage Photo:  Dolphin and Sunbonnet Lady

Vintage Photo: Dolphin and Sunbonnet Lady

Vintage Photo:  Dolphins and Songbook

Vintage Photo: Dolphins and Songbook

Vintage Marine Studios Sign

Vintage Marine Studios Sign

Three Dolphins Jumping

Three Dolphins Jumping

Marineland Entrance Sign

Marineland Entrance Sign

Marineland was one of Florida’s earliest tourist attractions.   It debuted in 1938 as the “World’s First Oceanarium” (south of St. Augustine).  The attraction’s original name was Marine Studios, because it catered to both tourists and film studios.  Movies and television shows filmed there include Tarzan, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Sea Hunt, and Benji (which featured the first scuba-diving dog). 

In 1951 Marineland was rated number one in Florida tourism.  I can’t help but smile when I look at those vintage photographs.  Marineland’s beloved dolphin Nellie was born there in 1953, and is now 59 years old.  She is one of the world’s oldest dolphins! 

Although the facility fell on hard times in the 1980s, the future looks much brighter now that it was bought by the premier Georgia Aquarium.  I especially like Marineland’s authentic feel.  Besides, where else can you feed a dolphin for $29?  More info is at:  http://www.marineland.net/index.html

UPDATE:  Nellie passed away at the age of 61 on May 1, 2014.  The previous May (2013) Nellie was given an honorary Ph.D. in health science and longevity by Jacksonville University.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center – Sea Turtle Hospital

Sea Turtle Hospital Mural

Sea Turtle Hospital Mural

Green Sea Turtle Patient in Hospital (doing well)

Green Sea Turtle Patient in Hospital (doing well)

Green Sea Turtle Patient in Personal Swimming Pen

Green Sea Turtle Patient in Personal Swimming Pen

Loggerhead Hatchling Patient and Sargassum Weed

Loggerhead Hatchling Patient and Sargassum Weed

Sea Turtle Hospital Quiet Sign

Sea Turtle Hospital Quiet Sign

Exhibit of Jupiter Inlet Near-Shore Coral Reef

Exhibit of Jupiter Inlet Near-Shore Coral Reef

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a sea turtle hospital, research facility, and education campus in Juno Beach, Florida.  Sick or injured sea turtles are brought to the center for veterinary care.  Turtles receive treatment and are rehabilitated for release.  Visitors are welcome to view the exhibits, watch veterinary care, and get a close-up view of current patients.  More info is at:  http://marinelife.org/

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!

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.

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.  

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Outer Bay/Open Sea Exhibit

Monterey Bay Aquarium – Outer Bay/Open Sea Exhibit Window

The window at the Outer Bay /Open Sea Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is massive!  Standing in front of it is like scuba diving without getting wet!  At night a wall of bubbles obscures the window so that the fish don’t run into it in the dark.  We arrived at the window before the bubbles were turned off for the day.  The beautiful blue color of the exhibit comes from the blue tiles covering its walls – over 1.6 million tiles were used! 

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Draw Your Own Digital Jelly

Draw Your Own Digital Jelly Touchscreens and Wall-Size Virtual Ocean

Draw Your Own Digital Jelly Touchscreens and Wall-Size Virtual Ocean

Touchscreen to Draw Jelly

Touchscreen to Draw Jelly

Touchscreen to E-mail Jelly Link

Touchscreen to E-mail Jelly Link

Richard’s Digital Jelly Swimming in a Virtual Ocean

Richard’s Digital Jelly Swimming in a Virtual Ocean

Pam’s Digital Jelly Swimming in a Virtual Ocean

Pam’s Digital Jelly Swimming in a Virtual Ocean

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Jellies Experience Exhibit, you can use a touch screen to draw your own digital jelly and launch it into a wall-size virtual ocean. You can also use the touchscreen to e-mail your jelly link. This display is irresistible and very popular!  

UPDATE December 2015:  Videos of digital jellies swimming in a virtual ocean are no longer available online since the special exhibit has been closed. 

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Glowing Jellies and Corals

Flower Hat Jellies

Button Polyps

Glowing Coral

Tiny Elegant Jelly

Fluorescent Jelly Proteins Display

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, jellies and corals in the Light Show Gallery can be seen brightly glowing under special lights as a result of fluorescence and bioluminescence. Scientists use fluorescent jelly proteins for laboratory research and diagnostics. Richard has used glowing jelly proteins in his own research. The protein was famously used in the year 2000 by French geneticists to create a rabbit named Alba whose hair glowed green under ultraviolet light. For those especially interested in science, check out this new article on the world’s first artificial jellyfish at Harvard University that is being used to study pumping of the heart muscle:   http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22088-heart-muscle-helps-cyborg-jellyfish-come-alive.html

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Delicate and Beautiful Jellies

Spotted Jellies

Upside Down Jellies

Egg Yolk Jelly

Blubber Jellies

Crown Jelly

Moon Jellies

Indonesian Sea Nettles

Crystal Jelly

The new Jellies Experience Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is outstanding!  Jellyfish are extremely delicate and beautiful.  Their bodies are 95% water.  They are a main source of food for sea turtles and ocean sunfish.  Some jellies sting as a defense and as a way to collect food, so always be careful around them.   An excellent article about how Monterey Bay Aquarium grows its jellies for display is at:  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/how-to-grow-a-jellyfish/

Weedy Sea Dragon with Eggs

Sea Dragon with Eggs at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sea Dragon with Eggs Illustration

We got extra lucky at the Monterey Bay Aquarium last week and saw a male weedy sea dragon with eggs. The male sea dragon doesn’t have a pouch like sea horses. Instead he has a tail that grows cup-like crevices for the eggs. He watches over the eggs until the baby sea dragons swim away. Note that the picture was very difficult to take because of the round glass of the tank UPDATE August 6, 2012:  The weedy sea dragon Dad and his 80 babies are now being cared for behind the scenes!  Success!

Monterey Bay Aquarium: New Jellies Experience is the BEST!

Jellies Experience Entrance

Tubes of Moon Jellies

Moon Jellies Lamps

Jellyfish Polyps Lamps

Comb Jelly Walk-Through Light

Beautiful Comb Jellies

Beautiful Comb Jellies

Crown Jelly Lamp

Jellyfish Mod Wall

Glowing Jellyfish Seat and Wall Art

The new Jellies Experience Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the BEST!  It is one of my ALL-TIME favorites!  I particularly enjoyed the exhibit’s “mod” feel and cool lighting.   

I remember when the Monterey Bay Aquarium debuted their wildly popular “Planet of the Jellies” in 1992, they enhanced the mood of the exhibit with a wall of lava lamps (the “lava” looked like jellies swimming).  In 2018 it was announced that the cybersecurity firm Cloudflare in San Francisco uses a similar wall of lava lamps to encrypt the internet.  It turns out that the randomness of the lava’s movement is so unpredictable that it is much more secure than randomly generated code.  Read more at:  https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/encryption-lava-lamps

UPDATE August 2016:  The aquarium has now figured out the best way to raise comb jellies.  It all comes down to what the baby jellies eat.  You can read about it at: https://futureoftheocean.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/untangling-comb-jelly-culture/?utm_source=AugustEnews&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2016-enews    

You can watch a video about shimmering rainbow comb jellies at:  https://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/34849426540/checked-out-our-comb-jellies-these-beautiful

Sea Lions and Seals Have Sensitive Whiskers

Sea Lion at San Francisco

Sea Lion at Moss Landing

Harbor Seal at Moss Landing

Harbor Seal at Monterey

Scientists have discovered that sea lions and seals have whiskers that are much more sensitive than previously thought.  They found that the animals can find and track fish from hundreds of feet away!  The whiskers (vibrissae) detect eddies left by the fish as they swim.  Harbor seals are thought to have the most sensitive whiskers all the animal kingdom.  Each whisker has up to 1,600 nerve fibers per single hair!

Marine Mammal Center

Marine Mammal Center Seal Statue

Marine Mammal Center Swimming Pens

Marine Mammal Center Kitchen

Rodeo Beach near Marine Mammal Center

The Marine Mammal Center is located in the Marin Headlands (north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge).  It is a state-of-the-art animal hospital with research labs, pharmacy, swimming pens, kitchen, and education center.  The patients are mainly seals and sea lions.  The center’s water filtration system runs through an abandoned Nike missile silo.  When we arrived, it was feeding time.  The volunteer kitchen staff were making fish milkshakes.  They brought out frozen blocks of fish, pulled them apart, and then ground up the fish in a blender.  Mmmmmm.  More info is at:  http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Pacific Tidepools: Emerald Green Anemones

Emerald Green Anemone and Pink Coralline Seaweed

Emerald Green "Sunburst" Anemone

Emerald Green “Sunburst” Anemone

Emerald green anemones are among the prettiest animals in Pacific coast tidepools.  Microscopic green algae give them their spectacular color.  They can grow up to a foot high, and get as big around as a dinner plate! 

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!

Our Favorite Starfish Photo

Pacific Sea Star at Pebble Beach

This picture shows a Pacific Sea Star at Pebble Beach in California.  We took a long exposure to soften the ocean waves in the background.  UPDATE:  This photograph is featured for the month of July in the 2016 Ocean Wildlife Calendar by the Ocean Conservancy.

Decorator Crab with Pom-Poms at Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Decorator Crab at Bottom of Picture

Decorator Crab with Pom-Pom Camouflage

This decorator crab lives at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz, California.  Scientists performed an interesting experiment to see if the crab would use unusual materials (such as colored pom-pom balls) to decorate his shell. The crab did use the balls for decoration.  In the wild he would use natural items for camouflage such as seaweed and shells.  What a cool crab!

“Ms. Blue” Whale at Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Ms. Blue Whale Skeleton

Ms. Blue Side View

Ms. Blue View from Tail

Sunflower Stars in Aquarium Inside

Sunflower Stars in Aquarium Inside

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Laboratory in Santa Cruz is a really interesting place to visit.   The facility has working labs with behind-the-scene tours, and a separate building for the public displays.  “Ms. Blue” is the skeleton of a blue whale that washed ashore near the lab in 1979.  Blue whales feed in the waters off the California coast in summer.  They are the largest animal to ever live on Earth, and their underwater songs can travel thousands of miles across the ocean.  Ms. Blue was recently named one of the top 10 family roadside attractions in America:  http://www.familyvacationcritic.com/10-best-roadside-attractions-with-kid-friendly-appeal/art/

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